A celebration with colourful balloons, tasty puddings and fruity drinks heralded the release of Viva’s new book, which we hope will inspire and challenge theologians and practitioners to better care for at-risk children around the world.
Our in-person launch of God’s Heart for Children in Oxfordshire earlier this month was attended by 60 people, including long-standing Viva friends and representatives of other mission organisations.
Many guests stayed around after the formal presentations to talk and network, and we were delighted to have staff from Langham Publishing on hand to sell the book.
Lucy Hefford, a co-editor of God’s Heart for Children, and Viva’s Theology and Practice Researcher, shared how the new edition comes 15 years after the original title and has a highly-diversified authorship, with 27 different contributors from 21 countries.
There are eight chapters, covering God’s original purpose and will for children, where they are created in dignity, 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. Seven of these topics are the same as the first edition, with the theme of creation care an addition this time around.
Lucy said, “My prayer is that this book will be a rich and valuable resource in itself, but also a rallying cry. We, the worldwide church, the body of Christ, must do better at listening to children and at having contextually relevant theologies of children.
“That way, God’s Heart for Children, like the front cover of the book, can be captured and reflected by people of all nationalities, with all the different colours and insights they bring.”
Mark Stavers, Viva’s CEO, welcomed guests to the launch. He said, “In many ways, this project reminds us as Viva of the Cutting Edge conferences which we use to facilitate – the global span of the authors, the collaboration between theologians and practitioners, and the heart to see more child’s lives changed to reach their God-given potential. That’s our vision at Viva and that’s the heart behind the new publication which we’re delighted to be launching here today.”
Patrick McDonald, Viva’s Founder and Founding Partner of Openwell Oxford, made the keynote address, giving thanks for the book, which he called “timely and critical”.
Referring to the words of Jesus in Matthew 16: 24, Patrick said, “I pray that the publication of this book marks an accelerating point for a movement of those who seek to ‘forget themselves’ to instead put service and concern for children at the heart of their lives.”
He went on, “This is timely for all of us. We know at least one or two children who need us in their lives. We can motivate churches to build programmes of outreach. We can help vulnerable families to parent well. We can form the networks of churches able to take a seat at city hall. And we can endeavour to have some sense of understanding of what the collective challenge facing children is in our communities – and then do something about it.”
“My prayer is that we see from this book a growing body of trained, focused and connected Christian workers who know their business and pursue it with competence, commitment and deep-rooted compassion. We must first and last pursue God for all we are worth.”
Click here to buy your copy of God’s Heart for Children.
Photos: John Cairns