Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)
By Helen Murray
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I shared my house, for a while, with a twenty-eight year old African of Zulu descent. He was trying to revert to his Christian upbringing while he stayed with me, but in the end he went back to his worldly lifestyle. However his stay with me was most enjoyable.
When a child came riding past (we have lots of “street” children in our area) he would race outside to play with him. They just loved him because he would lift them up and throw them around, (there was nothing conservative about his vigorous playing with them) and then ask them inside to partake of his special brew of porridge, which was boiled rice with sugar. He cooked it up and gave them plenty, then demanded they wash all their dishes immediately. I was recovering from knee surgery at the time, so they were instructed that it was my house and they were to respect me, always greet me by name, and make certain that everything was the way I wanted it. They loved him so much they did exactly what he asked.
During my recovery period he was not working, so, in the school holidays he lined all the boys up to remodel my garden, cut down overgrown trees and re-establish the fishpond in beautiful surroundings. They all worked hard and even listened to the ideas of a small seven-year-old sister as to how they should remodel the fish pond. It was all to be a surprise for me, and I was not permitted to see it until it was finished!
They presented it to me, at length, with great pride, and, with many photographs, I appreciated their efforts as they had done the major things I had requested. Of course we celebrated with a barbecue at which the boys were permitted to light and tend the fire while we were there.
These children continued to visit me long after he had left for his other world, and I taught them chess as my contribution to their personal development. They did receive Jesus in the process, but are now far away from me and my influence, but there is nowhere for them to go away from THE FATHER.
The thing that I always remember is how he loved the children, and raced out to collect them and play vigorously with them. This did nothing to diminish his manliness, as he also taught them constantly many things about growing up in Africa. I long to see this in my present culture, where the hearts of the fathers are turned to the children, which Jesus said will happen in the last days. For him it was so natural to teach the boys and girls how to be and get along properly. No child felt unimportant, or lacked his attention. Any issue that came up was attended to immediately. In his village, he said, if there was a great need, forty church elders would present themselves within ten minutes to pray until the need was met (sometimes deliverance of a child would be the issue).
I look at western society today and long again for the immediacy and responsiveness of my African boarder. I long to see the thoughts of the fathers returning to the children. I look at the Children’s churches and see mainly women, whereas God commanded Abraham to teach his children. I feel that for those young men who plan to go into ministry, that this is the place where they should be starting, that not only youth clubs (peer groups) should engage their attention. We need to see their passion for the lives of children. The street children usually lack the influence of a loving, disciplining father and need that sort of attention with the kind of energy he gave them. Because of his love for them, there was nothing they would not do for him. What I learned of his African, Christian childhood community made me long to see it established and take root here. There is so much we, in the west, can learn.
I pray to God that the passionate, energetic, playing, teaching and disciplining love of the fathers will return to the children.
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