Yesterday during prayer meeting a Church member asked us to pray for the school where she is currently student-teaching. Yesterday a 14 year old student refused to become part of a “gang” with friends, so after school five of them beat him up so badly he was put into the hospital.
While this is an extreme illustration, I have seen children who couldn’t learn enough about God three-years ago but today have no interest in the Lord whatsoever. It’s sadly as if once they reach the age of twelve, they turn from things like “Church” or “Bible Club.”
Of course this doesnt mean I stop trying to reach Secondary Students, I’m still praying God would open doors to do that. However, more than ever the Lord is challenging me to reach young people at a young age when they would actually listen.
Of course part of reaching is sharing the Gospel with them…but it also involves adding structure to their lives. Something I refer to as “spiritual parenting.”
It’s my personal opinion that the lack spiritual parenting (a form or mentoring or discipleship) particularly from Godly men, is what leads to things like gangs of fourteen year olds bringing weapons into a Secondary School. Without someone who lays down (and enforces) rules children can just make up their own.
The need for spiritual parenting in the Vincentian culture (along with teens turning from God) has burdened me to start reaching out to children at an early age.
This morning I spent 30 minutes with three second-grade boys teaching them reading. However, the majority of that time was spent doing some extreme spiritual parenting.
One of the greatest ministry tools I have here is a stack of fake money used by Child Evangelism Fellowship missionaries in the States. I use them during every Bible Club, and reading help session to play a game.
The rules are very simple…whoever has the most dollars at the end gets a Jolly Rancher. To obtain a dollar you must:
- Look up-watch me and only me
- Sit up-your hands are in front of you, not touching anybody else
- Hand up-self explanatory
- And of course Zip up-NO TALKING!
Many times the following scenario takes place
- Child disobeys and I give a warning
- They keep disobeying so I take away a dollar
- Child puts their head down and starts to cry thinking that will make me give the dollar back (they’re wrong)
- Child eventually dries their tears, gets their attitude right, and is rewarded with a dollar
I’m not foolish enough to believe fake dollars will keep a child from rebelling later in life, but maybe instilling structure (right from wrong) in them at a young age can create a respect of authority later.
This morning a boy who had lost a dollar for calling out the answer last week during someone elses question came and sat down with an incredibly serious face. When I asked him why he looked so serious he responded “I’m not telling anyone anything!”
Though he did lose a dollar for shouting out answers (old habits die hard) I’m grateful to see God beginning to do a work in his heart. May the Lord help us reach children while they are open to Christ instead of waiting till the hardened teen years.