Towards a Global Theology of Children

11 July 2022

Nativity Petallar, editor and contributor of God’s Heart for Children, explains the motivations behind this new book and the major differences with its predecessor.

God’s Heart for Children: Practical Theology from Global Perspectives is a sequel to the former Understanding God’s Heart for Children: Toward a Biblical Framework (2007). Our goal in convening this new book has been to diversify the authorship of the former Understanding God’s Heart for Children to ensure that we hear African, Asian, and Latino perspectives on practical theologies of children more clearly. Furthermore, we set out to update the practitioner contributions and case studies to reflect issues that children at risk are facing in 2022, including adding a new chapter entitled “Engaged in Creation Care.”

The book is carefully and prayerfully written by twenty-four authors from various countries around the world, giving it a blend of global voices.

This updated version considers contextual theologies from the non-Western world as the basis for reflection and praxis. To our knowledge, this approach has not been used in a publication about children at risk to date. Hence, we hope that it will be a vibrant and meaningful tool to guide dialogue and improve practice, especially when practitioners are informed and shaped by contextual theology. The Bible, Lausanne Occasional Papers on children at risk, and the Cape Town Commitment have acted as our guide posts.

The book is carefully and prayerfully written by twenty-four authors from various countries around the world, giving it a blend of global voices. The authors are a combination of theologians, seminary and university professors, missiologists, leaders and practitioners of various non-government organizations, and pastors and church leaders, all voices from different parts of the globe – united with a common bond: their love for God and his children. The book explores eight core beliefs regarding the place of children in creation – that they are created with dignity and intended to be placed in families, cared for in community, advocated by society, secured in hope, affirmed in God’s church, included in God’s mission, and engaged in creation care.

Each chapter starts with a global critical issue, followed by a theological reflection in light of contextual realities, and ends with a case study. There are suggested reflection questions in each chapter for further discussion. The authors honor children as gifts from God and prayerfully consider the theological implications of the challenges that children at risk are facing.

The book calls every single reader to appreciate the contribution of children in the Missio Dei and act upon the multi-faceted injustices that thousands of children are suffering from. The books ends with two prayers: first, a prayer asking God for forgiveness for failing to care for his children, and second a prayer of commitment (based on Isaiah 61) asking the Holy Spirit to make God’s people instruments of deliverance and healing for children around the world.

God's Heart for Children is published in partnership with Viva, an international charity dedicated to changing children's lives to fulfil their God-given potential.