A cheerful card made by Anaya from Anguilla for a child in St. Vincent. [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]
U.S. Virgin Islands | Royston Philbert and Inter-American Division News Staff

On May 22nd, children across the North Caribbean Conference (NCC) recently participated in the World Day of Prayer for Children at Risk. The event placed special emphasis on praying for the children of St. Vincent, many of whom had their lives challenged by the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in April.

“Children at risk need to be protected and helped so that they can use their God-given talents to the fullest,” said Linda Ambrose, Children’s Ministries Director for the church in North Caribbean and main organizer of the activity. “At-risk children are those who are exposed to some kind of harm or danger. They need our prayers,” she emphasized.

Ambrose shared that the department she leads decided to be relevant and focus on the children at risk in St. Vincent for 2021. “Many of these children are at risk for displacement and homelessness; at risk for increased health issues; at risk for malnutrition; at risk for dehydration; and so much more,” Ambrose said. The special day of prayer is an initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that they decided to support. “We love it!” she said.

Ambrose reached out to Arline Thomas, the Children’s Ministries Director in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for 250 names of local children. “We wanted families in the North Caribbean Conference to adopt a child before [the special day] so they can keep them in their prayers and later, when things settle down and the trailers stop coming, these same families may be a blessing to them in another way,” she explained. Thomas was “truly touched” by the initiative.

Meanwhile, in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Children’s Ministries Director Dawnlyn Henry’s team said they were not intimidated by the length of the list. Henry urged families of the BVI territory to set aside some time to focus on its children and those around the world.

Starting one week before May 22nd, local leaders were asked to share the list of children with their congregations so families could adopt a name and immediately begin praying for that child. On May 20th, ministry leaders shared a video across church chats informing them about the special day and the NCC’s initiative. Leaders also asked churches to show the video at the region's churches and dedicate several minutes to pray for children in St. Vincent and around the world.

Ambrose shared that across the NCC, families went to great lengths to embrace and own the initiative. “Some children journaled their prayers for the child their family adopted, and sent these prayers to our office,” she said.

But people were moved to do more, Ambrose added. “As soon as families picked the names, [I received] calls and texts [from people] stating their desire to do more than pray,” she said. “They wanted to know how they could send special packages to their adopted child.” According to her, Thomas was overwhelmed with gratitude for all the prayers and the desire to send packages for the children.

Pastor Desmond James, president of the church in NCC commended children’s ministry leaders for the idea. “This was a great initiative of support for our hurting families in St. Vincent,” he said.

Church leaders were reminded that on the world Seventh-day Adventist Church’s calendar, the special Day of Prayer is reserved for urgent intercession and acts of goodwill. “It is a time to pray on behalf of millions of children around the world who are affected by neglect, human trafficking, starvation, and many other forms of abuse,” leaders said.

The North Caribbean Conference oversees a church membership of more than 16,000 throughout 36 churches and congregations in Anguilla, British Virgin Islands (including Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda), United States Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas), and the islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. The conference operates five primary and three secondary schools.

This article was originally published on the Inter-American Division’s website