The Seventh day Adventist church on Saturday 24th November 2018 joined other faith groups who gathered at IG Stadium, at Area 30 in Lilongwe to commemorate the day of prayer and action on child protection.
Speaking during the ceremony, the guest of honor, Dr. Esmie Kainja, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children Affairs, Disability and Social Welfare urged faith leaders to support government efforts in ending early child marriages by among other things refusing to officiate weddings of people below the age of 18.
Kainja said the government has put in place policies and legal framework to protect children from early marriages because child protection is a priority to the government. She further said child marriage is an evil in our society which requires divine intervention.
''The government established Child justice courts to promote child justice,101 Police child victim support unit, early child development strategy and deployed 800 community child protection workers to ensure that children in this country are protected We need the church to compliant these efforts,” said Kainja.
UNICEF Country Representative, Johannis Wedennig said the faith leaders hold a lot of power and influence to protect children. He urged parents, communities, churches and the civil society to stand together to protect children and speak up against any form of abuse against them.
Speaking on behalf of the Malawi Interfaith Aids Association, Pastor Innocent Chikomo, the Executive Secretary of the Seventh day Adventist Church said child marriage is the worst form of abuse; however he noted that some faith leaders have fueled this abuse by officiating marriages of children below the age of 18.
''As faith leaders we believe children are special in the eyes of God. These prayers today mark our commitment and determination to end child marriages and protect the children at church, in families and schools since 62% of educational institutions are owned by the churches,” said Chikomo.
A 13 year old girl, Maness Nkhululu from the Seventh day Adventist church preached during the ceremony. Quoting Genesis 2 verse to 24, said marriage according to God's plan was meant for man and woman and not boy and girl.
''God knew that boys and girls need to mature mentally, emotionally, physically and socially before they get married. Going against God's plan creates more social and physical challenges,” she preached.
The event was also attended by the deputy Inspector general of Police, Mr. John Nyondo, World Vision national director and faith leaders from various religious bodies.
Music performed by Malawi police band and the children, speeches by children, poem recitals spiced up the ceremony.
Day of prayer and protection of children is an international event which is commemorated annually on 20th November.