Within the past 25 years, China has seen tremendous growth in its cities, where around 56% of its population now live. Around 250 million city-dwellers are Chinese migrant workers from rural areas.
Due to China’s residency registration system, many Chinese migrant workers are unable to afford for their children to move as well. So children are often “left behind” with their grandparents in the rural villages. Families are typically reunited at most once a year. As a result, millions of children are growing up without the regular presence of either parent. In some villages, about 80% of the children are in this situation.
“Left behind” children often suffer from depression or anxiety and, on average, perform worse than their peers in school. They are more vulnerable to trafficking and getting involved with crime. Some children attend boarding schools; they see their grandparents only on the weekends. For some children, their parents never return.
One way Chinese followers of Christ have responded is by opening schools and youth centers in these rural areas. Through the efforts of teachers, counselors and other workers, some “left behind” children are understanding for the first time that they are loved.
“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” (Psalm 27:10): Our Father, we cry out on behalf of these “left behind” children in China. Let them know that You will take them in. Let them know the comfort of Your presence at all times. Bring healing to their families.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27): Great God, we thank You for our brothers and sisters who are ministering to the “left behind” children and their families. Give them the strength, compassion and emotional endurance they need to make known Your great love.
Ask God how else to pray.
Invite someone who lives far from relatives to spend time with you.