Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Parents: Teach Children Christianity with Love

I was born with a bible on the table- growing in a Christian home meant that I had unlimited access to liturgical literature to read and hymnals. From a tender age mother kept us tidy in Saturday morning for church. With strict parental supervision I, together with my age mates rarely missed church.
But, looking back that was long ago, as I got older with the power of making my own decisions I realize the I, with a score of my age mates rarely go to church unless for special occasions like wedding. Looking at the contrast manifested over time made me question: does Christianity with a rod spoil a child?
The thought nagged me during church service recently. A group of children came to the podium to perform for us. Their sweet voices cut through the rapt audience as they recited memory verses, poems and songs. As the congregation was carried away I saw myself as a boy in the innocence of their cherubic faces and beautiful clothes.
To most the first lesson of Christianity is of an overbearing God, aloof in heaven busy writing down all our transgression in his big book. Christianity is thus taught not with love, but ‘forceful coercion’. The culmination is on judgment day when we’ll be brought to account and ashamed before everyone.
Additionally, although these children don’t do as they are told they are adept at emulating their parents’ behaviors of being Christians as a means to an end. Let’s consider when a child is born; both parents in joy attend the dedication. Once given to God they will seek the pastor to pray for the child in national primary examinations.

Alternatively, God will be sought again at secondary level, graduation and later in case of unemployment. As they will grow they learn that Christianity is just a last resort, a by the way!
The effect to the child? In boarding schools away from parental control God’s existence and authority will be questioned. The first morsel of personal authority away from parental guidance is used in rebellion.

The erstwhile world is contrasted with a new one where immorality is, sadly, revered. Later in colleges and universities as young adults they are easily swallowed in the whirlpool of decadence.
Immediately I think of my childhood friend Joab Oyugi and a college friend Peter Ng’ang’a, both their fathers are church ministers who ensured they had a strict Christian upbringing.
I met Joab, whom we grew up with in the same church, while covering a court beat as a volunteer reporter. Together with others he was sentenced for 14 years when the court found him guilty of violent robbery and rape. Sitting at the press gallery it pained me to witness a good story of a Christian with a very a sad ending.
In the second case, Peter never misses college binges where he drinks often, but back home with his father he becomes an epitome of Christianity. The paradox is that even at home when drunk he opts to shack with friends and relatives till he sobers up before going back home.

A trend which he tells me is taken by his three elder brothers.
We relate to the two cases as parents, children and youth growing up in a world with rampant crime, unemployment, drug abuse and immorality. In this world religion should be a shield and not a burden.

As we sojourn on the vast sea of life to our destiny Christianity, or any other religion, practiced with love and not forced coercion should a campus.
As our children need to mature into responsible and God loving adults, Christianity need to be taught with love for God himself created us with love and wants us to realize our potential and fulfill our lives.

Before him we are an empty pitcher on a fountain to be filled and made useful.
Personally I have realized a truth: God is there for us to call and lean on and not to run away from and hide on fear!

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