Monday night the Lord allowed me to experience a spiritual high, and low in less than thirty minutes that illustrated clearly the challenge of missions. At around 6:30 a boy I had been sharing with prayed to accept Jesus (I have doubts about his decision but trust God to continue working in his heart) then about twenty minutes later a group of boys came to my porch with an item that another one had stolen from my house earlier that day.
Because this was an expensive item I decided to send a message and walked him over to the police station. It actually became a big deal because lots of children were playing nearby and by the time I got to the station there were ten kids with me (thought he would run away and hide the next day)!
Sitting there in the station looking at an eleven year-old boy who according to the police was well known for stealing things one thought went through my mind….how did he get this way?
While there isn’t a clearly defined right or wrong answer, one of the greatest influences is the lack of structure or authority for the children of Barrouallie.
This doesn’t mean parents just let their children run wild. Instead in countries like Saint Vincent were jobs are hard to find its common for both parents and other family members to work all day doing something like fishing, or selling produce.
Obviously not being there means they CAN’T make sure their children do the right thing, or discipline them. So kids spend most of the day idle (spending time with friends) and come home around 7:00 or 8:00 at night. As you can imagine spending time with friends instead of family members affects how they define right or wrong.
Just to clarify this doesn’t mean all the children steal, the one who had stolen from me was being “physically restrained” by two or three others, and a group brought the item back to me.
The truly sad part of the situation Monday night was the boys mother who had just gotten home after working all day, only to be picked up by the police and brought to the station. My heart broke as she explained to her eleven year old son someday his “thiefing” (stealing) would lead to his death.
Unfortunately this is a common problem not only in Barrouallie, but mission fields around the world, and parts of the United States. The lack of authority figures who WANT to be there but CAN’T creates a generation of children who don’t respect any authority.
So what is the answer?
In my opinion spiritual parenting means an authority figure takes on the role of mentoring or discipleship with a child that teaches them right from wrong. Is this the job of their parent or family member? Of course it is! But what if that person cannot be there to teach the child right from wrong?
Because all children respect and obey “Mr. John” I have a responsibility to not only teach them Scripture, but take on the role of a spiritual parent. I’m sure I won’t measure up to being a parent, but this helps keep eleven year olds out of the prison station.