He came as a baby and as God’s great gift to humanity: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). And that divine gift points us to others, for as Mother Teresa taught, every child is a gift of God. Never have so many of these precious gifts so urgently needed our attention as they do now.
Could there be any greater obligation—or opportunity—than to love and care for them? Even the United Nations has recognized that “mankind owes to the child the best it has to give” (Declaration of the Rights of the Child, Preamble), and “motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights 25(2)).
It is a subject on which Mother Teresa spoke emphatically, urging parents to prioritize their own family. “Spread love everywhere you go,” she urged, but “first of all in your house. Give love to your children,” for while it is possible that they “do not hunger for bread, do not need clothes, [and] do not lack a house,” yet “are we equally sure that none of them feels alone, abandoned, neglected, needing some affection? That, too, is poverty.” We at the International Organization for the Family have previously declared,
We gratefully acknowledge the selfless service rendered by parents, grandparents, guardians, and other caregivers who provide opportunities, as prescribed in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, for children “to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.”
But multitudes of children lack even the basic necessities and find themselves in dire circumstances. To such as these Mother Teresa was an angel of mercy, devoting her life to the rescue and nurture of as many suffering children as possible. As the world today continues to be ravaged by poverty, hunger, disaster, disease, and violence, we applaud the numerous individuals and organizations that follow in her wake to reach out and bless the lives of children. One shining example among many is the work of Engage Now Africa, whose mission is to heal, rescue, and lift.
Meanwhile, as the world is also increasingly ravaged by the breakdown of, and a war against, family and marriage, IOF continues to champion the cause of children. Two decades ago our founder, Dr. Allan Carlson, affirmed the timeless truth that every child has a right to a mother and a father, and a home built on marriage. More recently, we have stated in our World Family Declaration that “a functional, nurturing family founded on marriage between a man and a woman provides the surest safeguard of the special care and assistance to which children are entitled.”
This Christmas as we celebrate the gift of God’s Son, it is time to remember what He taught when He said, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me” (Luke 9:48). And time to remember Clarence Herbert Woolston’s poignant lyrics:
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Our Christmas wish is that as we worship God’s Son we will also reach out to the children He loves and give them the best we have to give.