“I have witnessed God's love for children”

by Valter Hugo Muniz last modified 07 November 2019 08:45 AM
“I have witnessed God's love for children”

Photo: Valter Hugo Muniz

07 November 2019

During the next Universal Children's Day on 20 November, the international community will be called to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – calling on world leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child now and for future generations.

In my work at the World Council of Churches, I have learned and witness the countless initiatives embraced by churches and Christian communities all around the world to end violence against children. But I can't talk about children's dignity without recalling a recent experience. Less than two months ago, my wife and I celebrated the birth of our second daughter. I always struggle to put in words how incredible is the privilege of being co-creators of life.

Just after that overwhelming experience, I had the opportunity to go to a mission in two African countries, Nigeria, and Tanzania. I was called to provide communication support to workshops promoted by local churches in collaboration with the World Council of Churches and UNICEF to raise awareness of the urgency of fighting against child abuse and exploitation.

The two events were to introduce the Out of the shadows Index, an initiative that is part of the Churches' Commitments to Children based on research undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit, specifically looking at how to end sexual violence against children.

As a father, it seems impossible to accept that on the global level, around one billion minors, between two and 17 years old, have endured violence either physical, emotional, or sexual. It is even more painful to learn that according to UNICEF, such violence is committed mostly by parents, relatives, spouses of child brides, or teachers.

Learning about these statistics and about the fact that child abuse and exploitation are happening everywhere, regardless of a country's economic status, almost stole my happiness for being a father for the second time.

During these two workshops in Africa, the different local church representatives shared several devastating cases. But there, I have also witnessed hope.

A lot has been done both in Nigeria and Tanzania to tackle the problem. Church leaders, schools, and communities are working together in partnership with the UNICEF and local governments to shine light on the response to child abuse and exploitation.

The experience of looking from the inside of two different African communities made me prouder to be Christian. I have witnessed God's love for children through the work of WCC.

I know there is still a lot to be done. But I left my brothers and sisters in Africa joyful and with my hopes renewed.