Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Youth: Mission's Neglected Priority

Magazine article International Bulletin of Mission Research

Youth: Mission's Neglected Priority

Article excerpt

According to Bryant Myers in the lead article of this issue, every third person in the world today is a youth under the age of fifteen, and almost four out of five are growing up in non-Christian settings.

Three-quarters of today's urban slum population--more than 400 million--consists of young people under the age of twenty-four. As many as 100 million under fifteen live on city streets. There are half a million prostitutes under the age of twenty in Brazil, 800,000 under sixteen in Thailand. Every year upward of a million children are forced into the sex industry. Children in many regions of the globe are being exploited as child laborers in ways some of us might have supposed had ended in the last century.

Wondering to what extent children of earlier generations have been identified as a category for special mission concern, we invested an afternoon in the Day Missions Library at Yale University Divinity School--and found relatively little. Edwin Munsell Bliss's landmark Encyclopedia of Missions, published in 1891, offers under the topic of "Woman's Work for Woman" a brief column on the education of Western children about world missions but nothing about the status of children in the world as a whole. (With satisfaction Bliss noted the enrollment in the United States of at least 200,000 in 10,000 children's missionary "bands.") James S. Dennis's Christian Missions and Social Progress (1899) features a twelve-page review of the welfare and needs of children in various parts of the non-Western world. …

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