More Information
ISBN: 9781839732751
Imprint: Langham Global Library
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 16
Publication Date: 31/05/2022
Pages: 310
Language: English

God’s Heart for Children

Practical Theology from Global Perspectives

Special Price £15.19 Regular Price £18.99

In the New Testament, Jesus is explicit in communicating God’s heart for children. Yet what does it look like for that heart to encounter the contextual realities of life in the twenty-first century?

This book explores the theological implications and practical realities of ministry with children in a globalized world. Affirming 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 – this book traces the impact of such far-reaching issues as displacement, climate change, human trafficking, persecution, and gender discrimination on childhood development. Written by over twenty contributors from around the world, each section roots its premise in contextual theology, examines the implications for praxis, provides a case study, and includes questions for discussion and reflection.

Through each chapter the conversation around childhood development is broadened, prioritizing the experiences of children and practitioners to truly reflect the realities of our changing world. This is an excellent resource for all those concerned with the current risks facing children, especially among the world’s most vulnerable populations, and what best practice looks like as the people of God work to bring God’s heart, and hope, to children in their communities and beyond.

Author Bios

Rosalind Tan
(Edited By)

ROSALIND TAN is a project consultant, trainer, lecturer, and researcher who is actively involved in community development, spearheading preschools for indigenous children in rural and urban settings. She has a PhD in education from AGST Alliance, where she serves as education director.

Nativity A. Petallar
(Edited By)

NATIVITY A. PETALLAR has worked with children in both church and academic settings for more than twenty years. She has a DTh in Christian education and practical ministry from Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary and currently serves as the associate dean of PhD studies at the Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, Taytay, Philippines.

Lucy A. Hefford
(Edited By)

LUCY A. HEFFORD is an educator with experience in intercultural ministry and development. She has an MTh from the University of Oxford, UK, and is a PhD candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary, California, USA, where she is researching local and contextual theologies of children. She also serves as researcher of theology and practice for the Viva Network, a Christian NGO working with children internationally.


You will be informed, challenged, and changed by reading these articles, and you will never look at children in our world the same way again.

Pioneer Mission Leadership Training, Oxford, UK

The fingerprints of God are on this book.

World Vision International, UK

This book honors children by enlarging our view of their vulnerabilities, strengths, and contributions and offering creative strategies for protecting, learning from, and collaborating with them.

Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota, USA

A practical, contextual, and contemporary resource for any Christian organization working with children.

Tearfund, Sri Lanka

With the continued growth of Christianity around the world, the median age of Christians is falling fast. Thus, the subject of this book ought to be a concern for all Christians thinking about the church’s existence, both today and in the future.

Global Connections, UK

This book locates itself stubbornly on the margins alongside vulnerable children.

Formerly World Vision India

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Preface
  4. List of Abbreviations
  5. 1 Created in Dignity
    1. Global Critical Issue: Getting to the Root of the Problem
      1. Jan Grobbelaar – South African
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Affirming Children’s Dignity as a Theological Vision and Mandate
      1. Jessy Jaison – Indian
    3. Case Study: Restoring Dignity to Children in Bonded Labor
      1. Adnan Azhar Sandhu – Pakistani
  6. 2 Placed in Families
    1. Global Critical Issue: Children Outside the Door
      1. Rosalind Tan – Malaysian
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Kinsman-Redeemer: Welcoming Children Outside the Door
      1. Nativity A. Petallar – Filipino
    3. Case Study: A City without Orphans
      1. Faith Kembabazi and Patrick Byekwaso – Ugandan
  7. 3 Cared for in Community
    1. Global Critical Issue: It Still Takes a Village to Raise a Child
      1. Amberbir Tamire Habtemariam – Ethiopian
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Ubuntu: Conceptualizing Community for Children in the African Context
      1. Roseline Olumbe – Kenyan
    3. Case Study: Church and Village as Community
      1. Saw Law Eh Htoo – Myanmarese
  8. 4 Advocated by Society
    1. Global Critical Issue: Hubs of Light
      1. Menchit Wong – Filipino
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Children, Advocacy, and the Kingdom of God
      1. Bradley Thompson – Indian
    3. Case Study: I Exist, I Am a Citizen
      1. Carmen Alvarez González – Costa Rican
  9. 5 Secured in Hope
    1. Global Critical Issue: Spirituality and Hope: The Extraordinary Hidden within the Ordinary
      1. María Alejandra Andrade Vinueza – Ecuadorian
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Love, Faith, and Hope
      1. Shake` Geotcherian – Armenian-Syrian
    3. Case Study: Child Friendly Spaces: Spaces of Hope
      1. Kezia M’Clelland – British with Subhi Nadhaf – Syrian
  10. 6 Affirmed in God’s Church
    1. Global Critical Issue: Children on the Move
      1. Enrique Pinedo – Peruvian American
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Beyond Welcoming to Engaging Children for God’s Kingdom
      1. Shantelle Weber – South African
    3. Case Study: The Lion Is Furious When He Doesn’t Know How to Get Back to His Home
      1. Clenir Xavier dos Santos – Brazilian
  11. 7 Included in God’s Mission
    1. Global Critical Issue: Redeeming Children Is Integral Missions
      1. Sublimé Nyundu Mabiala – Congolese (DRC)
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Children as Full Members of the Priesthood of All Believers: A Pastoral Paradigm for Including Children in the Mission of God
      1. Harold Segura – Costa Rican
    3. Case Study: The Cost for Children Witnessing to Christ in Nigeria
      1. Nathan Hussaini Chiroma – Nigerian
  12. 8 Engaged in Creation Care
    1. Global Critical Issue: Children and the Global Climate Emergency
      1. Athena Peralta – Filipino
    2. Biblical and Theological Response: Our Beautiful Dwelling Place
      1. Rei Lemuel Crizaldo – Filipino
    3. Case Study: Children and Nature: A Pilot Program of the United Church of Zambia
      1. Jane Travis – British and Damon Mkandawire – Zambian
  13. Epilogue: Two Prayers in Response to God’s Heart for Children
  14. About the Editors
  15. About the Authors
  16. Special Tribute
  17. Subject Index
  18. Scripture Index


Jan Grobbelaar

JAN GROBBELEAR is a retired pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. He served two congregations for 13 years before joining Petra Institute for Children’s Ministry in 1996, where he served in various positions contributing to building the leadership capacity of churches and communities to become children-inclusive spaces in various African contexts before his retirement at the end of September 2021. He obtained his PhD in Practical Theology from Stellenbosch University in 2008. His main research interests are the intersection between children/childhood and theology, and intergenerational faith formation and he is still actively involved in doing research in these fields Jan is a Research Fellow of the Department of Practical and Missional Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, at the Free State University in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He is also involved with research at the Theological Faculties of the Universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria. Over the years he published various articles and chapters in academic Journals and books. He is married to Marie and they have three adult children and three grandchildren.

Jessy Jaison

JESSY JAISON is Regional Director of United World Mission and Overseas Council for South Asia, as well as serving on the board of ICETE. Jessy worked at New India Bible Seminary, Kerala, India, for three decades, both as Professor of Practical Theology and as Director of Research and Advancement. She has a PhD in Practical Theology from the Queen’s University of Belfast, UK, and an MTh from the University of Oxford, UK.

Adnan Azhar Sandu

ADNAN AZHAR SANDHU completed his theological studies at Gujranwala Theological Seminary, Pakistan and Children Bible Ministry, New Zealand. In 2001 he started the Pakistan Sunday School Ministry which focuses on supporting children and building bridges between churches and their communities. In the past twenty years he has trained more than twenty thousand children’s workers in South Asia, and he is now in the process of training master trainers who will continue and multiply this work. Over the last nine years he has served alongside international movements including the 4–14 Window Movement and the Global Children Forum. Adnan is also serving with the Lausanne Movement as a catalyst for children and evangelism. He is married to Neelam, and they have four daughters – Annika, Sabrina, Adelina, and Selena.

Faith Kembabazi

FAITH KEMBABAZI is the Director and Network Development Coordinator of CRANE (Children at Risk Action Network), a Viva partner network based in Kampala, Uganda. Faith holds a Master’s of Science in Development Management from the Open University and a BA in Social Sciences in Psychology, Sociology and Social Administration. Previously she served with ‘True Love Waits’, a drive to reduce HIV/AIDS in Uganda, under the Baptist Ministry.

Patrick Byekwaso

PATRICK BYEKWASO is the Children in Families and Church Partnerships Programme Manager for CRANE (Children At Risk Action Network) in Kampala, Uganda. He is also an Associate Pastor of Lugogo Baptist Church. He holds a BA in Theology from the African International University. Patrick is passionate about working with young people, other leaders, social justice, sports and inspiring a generation of young people to be all that God created them to be.

Amberbir Tamire Habtemariam

AMBERBIR TAMIRE HABTEMARIAM is the deputy director of the Child Development Training and Research Centre (CDTRC). He has an MA in holistic child development from the Malaysian Baptist Theological Seminary and a BTh from Evangelical Theological College, Addis Ababa. He lives in Ethiopia with his wife, Tegene Bekele, and their three children – Tinsae, Zekarias, and Melkam.

Roseline Olumbe

ROSELINE OLUMBE is Lecturer and Coordinator, Institute of Child Development, Daystar University, Kenya. She has a PhD in Holistic Child Development from the Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary. She lives in Kenya with her husband Duncan and they have three sons.

Saw Law Eh Htoo

SAW LAW EH HTOO is the Programme Coordinator for the Pathein Myaungmya Sgaw Karen Baptist Association’s Child Ministry. He has a BTh degree from the Kothayu Theological Seminary in Pathein, Myanmar (Burma). He lives in Myanmar with his wife Naw Deeyar Htar and their two children.

Bradley Thompson

BRADLEY THOMPSON has served with World Vision for over 20 years, including various technical and leadership roles in India and the Philippines. He currently coordinates World Vision’s global Child Sponsorship capability and ministry integration team. They are focused on enabling country offices and programme teams to work effectively with partners to achieve sustainable child well-being outcomes through Child Sponsorship. Bradley has a Masters in Community Health from Trinity College, Dublin and a Masters in Social Work from Loyola College, Chennai/University of Madras, India. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in ‘Holistic Child Development’ at Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS) in Manila, with the goal of utilising his knowledge and experience to create a caring, loving and just world for children. Bradley is based in Hamilton, New Zealand with his wife, Feby, and their two children - Joshua and Tirzah.

Carmen Alvarez González

CARMEN ALVAREZ GONZÁLEZ is the Regional Director for Latin America of Viva - Together for Children. She has a Ph.D. in Health and Social Sciences and has extensive experience working to protect children and develop practical solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. This experience includes the management of regional teams, the design of strategies, the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of social development projects, public advocacy, and the promotion of justice. Carmen also has a bachelor’s degree in Theology with a specialization in Education, and a bachelor’s degree in Law and a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Peace Education from the University for Peace, UN.

Enrique Pinedo

ENRIQUE PINEDO is Compassion International’s senior program advisor on strategic alliances for Latin America and the Caribbean. He is a member of the Latin American Theological Fellowship, and he served as president of the Latin American movement “With Children and Youth.” He also served as the coordinator of the Global Thematic Forum about Children at the Micah Network and as facilitator of the Global Track “Holistic Children Ministries” at the 4/14 Movement. Enrique was a member of the Children at Risk Committee at the Lausanne Movement, and has a master’s in religious sciences from the Evangelical University of the Americas in Costa Rica. He is an ordained minister and serves with his wife in the parenting ministry at the Church of All Nations (COAN) in Florida, US. Enrique is married to Miriam, and they have four children – Miriam J., Cesia, Jonathan, and David.

Shantelle Weber

SHANTELLE WEBER has a PhD in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch, where she is currently employed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Practical Theology and Missiology. Her research interests include faith formation of youth and cultural and interreligious studies. Shantelle is also the director of Uzwelo Youth Development, a non-profit organization focused on youth leadership development where her team trains youth workers who cannot study full-time and also mentors young adults. Shantelle is married to Brandon, and they have two daughters – Shannon and Ashleigh.

Clenir Xavier dos Santos

CLENIR XAVIER DOS SANTOS is the Lifewords Pavement Project global director and is part of the Lifewords international executive team. She is a trained social worker and psychologist, and she specializes in marital and family psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic, London. Since 1999, Clenir has been in the leadership of the Pavement Project, operating in twenty-one countries. She also founded and spent fifteen years directing a local church’s project with street children in Rio de Janeiro. Clenir was elected and served for two years as a member of the Brazil National Children’s Rights Council. She currently lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a pastor’s widow, and is inspired daily by her three children and grandsons.

Sublimé Nyundu Mabiala

SUBLIMÉ NYUNDU MABIALA is a Global Educator with Converge International Ministries. In the past, Sublimé has served as missionary in West Africa, the Arab World and in America with several US-based mission agencies. He completed his PhD in International Development from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland UK. He currently works on “Juvenile Mobility & Hostility” post-doc project. Sublimé is married to Rachel and they recently relocated from Detroit Michigan to Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), West Africa.

Shake` Geotcherian Koujryan Jackson

SHAKE` GEOTCHERIAN KOUJRYAN JACKSON is a lecturer in the field of Practical Theology focusing on Christian Education, Spiritual Formation, Leadership Training & The Teaching Ministry of the Church . She has recently moved to join her husband in the United Kingdom, after holding the position of Lecturer and Director of the Christian Education Resource Center, at the Near East School of Theology (NEST), Beirut, Lebanon. During her work at NEST, she organised more than 40 trainings for church leaders who came from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Shake` has also been an active member of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAECNE) and has served in many positions and represented both NEST and the UAECNE in many international conferences. She has a Masters in Sacred Theology (STM), from The Near East School of Theology, Beirut, Lebanon.

Nathan Chiroma

NATHAN CHIROMA is the Dean of the school of Theology and acting Head of department of Children and Youth ministry at Pan Africa Christian University, Nairobi Kenya and a research Associate, department of practical theology and Missiology, University of Stellenbosch. He has been serving in theological education for the last 30 years, following his work as a pastor spanning different countries. Nathan has a PhD in Practical Theology from the University of Stellenbosch.

Damon Mkandawire

DAMON MKANDAWIRE lives in Mbereshi, Zambia, where he serves as Hospital Administrator for the United Church of Zambia’s Mbereshi Mission Hospital. He is a minister of word and sacraments in the United Church of Zambia. He is an environmentalist, young theologian and gender justice activist. Growing up surrounded by copper mines, Damon has first-hand knowledge of environmental degradation and its potentially deleterious impacts on women, children, human health and welfare. Damon spent years as an Environmental Officer at the Konkola Copper Mines, one of Africa’s largest producers of copper, and continues to work towards national and international environmental justice and gender justice.

Menchit Wong

MENCHIT WONG currently serves in the International Board of the Lausanne Movement. She also serves in the leadership teams of global mission networks for children and youth, such as the Global Children’s Forum and the 1for50 Movement Since 2018, Menchit’s focus of ministry is now in the marketplace, after retiring from 30 years of ministry in child advocacy and holistic child development. She currently serves with the OneCORE Success Center in the Philippines, as a senior consultant, learning facilitator and Gallup-certified Strengths coach for leaders of companies and for-profit organizations. During her 30-year tour of duty with Compassion International, she served as Country Director, and International Child Advocacy Director. Menchit is happily married to Rico for the last 35 years. They are blessed to have three sons, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.

Athena Peralta

ATHENA PERALTA serves as programme executive for economic and ecological justice at the World Council of Churches. Previously she worked with the National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines as senior economic development specialist. Her research and advocacy focus on the intersections between economic, ecological and gender justice.

María Alejandra Andrade Vinueza

MARÍA ALEJANDRA ANDRADE VINUEZA is an Ecuadorian theologian, sociologist and childhood specialist, with passion for issues related to spirituality, faith and justice. She has spent more than 15 years accompanying Christian communities in engaging with justice and development in different places around the world. Her current research areas include environmental justice, migration, gender and decolonial theologies. She currently serves as Tearfund’s Theology and Network Engagement Global Lead. Maria currently lives in Ecuador with her life partner Frank and their two boys Jose and Mati, with whom she is discovering God in new and exciting ways.

Kezia M’Clelland

KEZIA M’CLELLAND is the Children in Emergencies specialist for Viva. Over the last fifteen years she has learned from and helped equip local churches and communities to support children and families in crisis situations. This work has spanned Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and has a focus on child protection and psychosocial support. Kezia has a master’s in violence, conflict and development from SOAS University of London. She is passionate about creating opportunities for children affected by conflict and disaster to be safe and fulfill their potential.

Jane Travis

JANE TRAVIS is the International Programme Manager for Viva. She leads programme development to equip churches and faith based organisations globally, to engage with and respond to priority issues facing children. Previously she worked in the international NGO sector focussing on emergencies and people affected by conflict. Her roles have included setting up and leading community services in refugee camps in Tanzania, Chad and Zambia. She has also lived and worked in Sudan, India and Rwanda. Her passion is to see the church engaged with issues of our time. Jane is actively engaged with local and national environmental initiatives.

Harold Segura

HAROLD SEGURA is the Director of Faith and Development for World Vision, Latin American and the Caribbean. He is also Baptist pastor and was previously Rector of the International Baptist Theological Seminary of Cali, Colombia. Rev. Segura completed his doctoral studies at the Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia.

Rei Lemuel Crizaldo

REI LEMUEL CRIZALDO concurrently serves as the Theological Commission Coordinator of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and as the theological education network coordinator of Tearfund UK in East and Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, he serves on the faculty of the Asian Seminary of Christian Ministries and as a local author with several books published by OMF Literature, including ‘Boring Ba Ang Bible Mo?’ (Is Your Bible Boring?), which won a ‘Filipino Reader’s Choice Award.’ He is a licensed professional teacher with a degree in theology and a Masters degree in mass communication.

Subhi Nadhaf