Tuesday, December 13, 2011
World Of a Child
Some kids are afraid of the quiet. The stillness at night
and sound of insects and birds are threatening to them
no matter how tough they appear.
Some kids have been raised where racial prejudice is
Some kids love to retreat into their private worlds of
Some kids who accept Christ are often persecuted
Some kids schools dont often adequately prepare
them to read, so a significant proportion will be
Some kids have no good example of a Fathers love.
Some kids are superior in verbal communication but
tend to be inferior in written communication.
Some kids cultures include elements which are
opposed to Christianity e.g. ancestor worship,
acknowledgment of many gods.
Some kids come from severely dysfunctional homes. Some kids are media junkies.
Some kids are self-consciously cool. Even when
enjoying themselves theyll often conceal it with a
Some kids have few friends and constantly feel out.
Some kids live in a verbally abusive environment. Some kids parents are very protective of them.
Some kids become sexually experienced very early.
Their sexuality issues/concerns are different from those
of your typical camper.
Some kids are afraid of school because.
How We Can Expect a Childs Context to Influence Them?
Consider some of the kinds of families we are likely to meet in our ministry:
Single parent family - through divorce, death or non-marriage.
Blended families remarried and step families.
Single faith, mixed faith or atheistic family.
WORLD OF A CHILD
Each one of these has the potential for being caring, cohesive, supportive, chaotic, abusive,
divisive, religious or strongly opposed to God (Cupit). In Gods plan, a person learns about
God and his characteristics from relationships within the family. Trust is developed within
the family as a child learns to trust family members. This is transferred to God. As a father
has compassion on his children, so the Lord (Psalm 103). Love, too, is learned to be
received and given in a family relationship, and transferred to God.
The breakdown in family relationships has serious consequences for the potential for faith
of the children affected. The fact that many children are born unwanted has tremendous
implications for the development of the childs sense of worth and value to God.
Consider some of the potential results of family breakdown on the spiritual development
of children, e.g. How does a child whose father is a wife beater or a deserter learn to trust
God as FATHER? Compare this with a child from a Christian home with parents who love
each other and are actively trying to run their home Gods way. What can we do to
overcome the effects of these realities in our teaching of biblical truths?
The immediate neighbourhood/community in which a child grows up can make a
tremendous difference to the childs thinking and behavior. Rural and city children are
different. Even more so is the difference between a child living in a war zone in one of SAs
townships and one brought up in a quiet peaceful suburb. Many are children in body and
age, but have experiences of life that would outstrip many an adult. The realities of their
day to day living is very different from the child living in the quiet suburb.
Consider too, the impact of a context of secular influences - experimentation with drugs,
sex, the influence of music and fashion etc.
Religion and Religious Pluralism
Children from Christian homes: John Inchley in his book All About Children refers to these
children as spiritually privileged because of the knowledge of God they have grown up
with. Many will have learned to trust God and experienced the reality of God in their lives
and that of their families through prayer and participation in Christian activities in church
and Sunday school etc. They will have at least some awareness and understanding of the
basics of the Christian faith. They will have supportive families to return to, eager to help
them to grow in the faith.
WORLD OF A CHILD
Children from non-religious or other-faith families: Especially in school missions we are likely
to come across children from other-than-Christian families, and as our schools increasingly
integrate, this will be the case more and more. Serious thought needs to given to the
handling of responses from children whose parents are committed to another religion or
are a-religious. A child who becomes a Christian from a home other-than-Christian is in
a very difficult position. The child is immediately at odds with its parents. The family unit
is broken and this could have serious consequences for the child. Careful and sensitive
counselling needs to be given. What one says to a child of Christian parents is simply
inadequate for a child whose parents will be unable to help them, and may in fact be
The challenge and confusion of a multi-faith context: Another consideration relates to
children from Christian homes who are suddenly faced with the reality of people who hold
a totally different set of religious values. What previously may have been accepted by the
child without question, is now seen to be an option. Perhaps we may need to be more
apologetic in our approach and teaching, including arguments for biblical truth (why we
believe what we believe to be truth). At the same time we need to avoid being pointedly
critical of other faiths. We need to grapple with 2 key questions in this regard: What are
children brought up in different faiths likely to think of the teachings of Christianity? In
what ways do we need to adapt our approach?
This is linked very closely with religion. Cupit shows distinct differences in family solidarity
between the Maori and WASPS in Australia. There are other areas as well. In South Africa,
I believe there is a big difference between a typical white English-speaking child and a Zulu
child in Kwazulu Natal, in so far as an acceptance and understanding of the supernatural
is concerned. Whites in SA do not accept the existence of spirits, whereas in Zulu culture,
even many who would call themselves Christians firmly believe in and fear the ancestral
spirits. There is also a tremendous difference in the openness of the acceptance of sexual
immorality, as the Bible defines it, between various cultural groups in SA. Children learn
these at a very early age.