“Yahweh Shalom”, the Lord is Peace. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, goes well beyond the idea of an absence of conflict or a state of inner calm, but refers to wholeness in all of life. Shalom comes from living in harmony with God and bears the fruit of harmony with others, health, prosperity, and wellness. Yahweh Shalom is the source of all peace and Jesus, the Prince of Peace, welcomes us to a place of flourishing and wholeness. In praying for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done, on earth as it is in Heaven, we are led to consider those for whom flourishing and wholeness is not a present reality.
Peace and the upholding of human rights are intertwined. “Everyone has the right to enjoy peace such that all human rights are promoted and protected and development is fully realized” (Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace). India is one nation that provides some confronting examples of equal rights not enjoyed by all. While the right to education is a fundamental human right, an estimated six million children in India remain out of school and two out of five drop out before completing elementary schooling. Numbers are much higher for children from disadvantaged groups. Crime, lack of services, limitations of government policy implementation, labour exploitation, and religious and cultural norms, are examples of barriers that can lead to children’s disengagement with school and the closing of a pathway that could see a different story written for the next generation.
Vision Rescue works with children within their context of family and community to identify barriers to education. Through a household-focused approach, they provide various services and referrals to others, as well as a range of formal and non-formal education programs. Vision Rescue see a connection between education and freedom – preventing exploitation through engaging and sustaining children in education. They also see the potential of education to lead to inter-generational change.
While focusing on education, the interplay of physical, mental, emotional, political, spiritual and social factors is recognised. Physical health is enabled through providing increased access to medical treatment. A parent’s mind is eased knowing their child in safe in a classroom and not on the streets. Household violence is reduced through supporting a family to generate more income. A brighter future is envisioned through inspiring and equipping a young mind and mobilising a community to know they have value, dignity and potential to create positive change.
Engaging and sustaining children in education from an early age, when it matters most, tells a story not of rescue but prevention, and prevention stories are to be celebrated! A young girl is not trafficked because she was in school, a family does not separate because they were able to access supportive services, a boy does not stay stuck in a pattern of rag-picking to try to make ends meet and starts to dream of what he wants to do when he grows up. Preventing exploitation, supporting families dealing with addition, separation, or violence, changing the course of children’s lives; this is promoting peace and flourishing within communities across India.
Wage Peace with us this Christmas. Go to hillsong.com/tpp to GIVE to Vision Rescue’s work with local communities in India.
Human Rights Watch (2015). Millions of Indian children are being denied school education due to discrimination. Available: https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/05/19/millions-indian-children-are-being-denied-school-education-due-discrimination
Save the Children (2010). When Peace Begins: Education’s Role in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Summary. Available:
United Nations Human Rights Council (2016). Declaration of the Right to Peace. Available: http://unipd-centrodirittiumani.it/public/docs/Declaration_RightToPeace_24062016.pdf