Monday, December 27, 2010

Keeping the Faith

I just completed reading "Loving them Back, leading them home" by Pr Barry Gane. The book discusses the issues of youth leaving the church, and the common reasons why they do, and also encourages the reader to win them back. It's interesting to note that the book was more about emphasising the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships with the young people rather than following a specific program, although it does have a suggested program which I'm thankful for.

One key point that I have noted is that prior to generation Xers, theological issues were discussed on an intellectual level, and the question usually was "How can you prove what you believe?", whereas from generation X onwards, the question is "Can you live what you believe?". I fall in the latter category and the truth is, this is true. In my early teen years, I often looked at the other folk in church to find an excuse for the flaws of the belief and faith of my parents, BUT one thing was undeniable........the faith of my parents!

They would religiously have morning worship before they left for work, and my brother and I would sneak back under the sheets to soon ready ourselves for school and when we were home in the evening we had evening worship too. They would attend Wednesday night prayer meetings with the faithful few who gathered on those evenings and take us all to church on Sabbath. They were involved with a lot of the church activities. They were charitable to families that needed assistance. They were staunch in how we needed to support our own family but never careless of their own household. They would live by the lectures they gave us and the biblical instruction they understood.
And there were occasions where I would unintentionally interrupt their private bible study and prayer sessions. Above all, as a kid when I reflect on my childhood, I actually got to see both my Dad and Mum grow in godly character over the years too. I remember Dad being incredibly hot-tempered, and reluctant to speak in front of the church to being calm and controlled, speaking fluent Matai (chief) lingo and comfortably preaching on the pulpit. Mum being a little loose tongued when having a great time with friends and family to being more conservative. (Trust me this is a good thing, I think my brother and I are still traumatised by some of the things she shared).

Regardless of all this, I had come to the conclusion as an experienced, and mature (sarcasm intended) 12 year old, sitting in church on a Sabbath morning, while looking at (but not listening to) the preacher that 17 would be an appropriate age to declare to my folks that it was time for me to sever my ties with their beloved church. I had hopes of starting at Kelston Boys High School the following year, and I loved rugby and so did KBHS. I coveted a position on the KBHS 1st XV team but games were on Saturday mornings, but I had worked out what I needed to do.

In the following year, plans were coming into fruition, and furthermore I'd started to experience other things contrary to my parents counsels. They appeared to be fun at the time but I was 13 so I knew what I was doing. So there I was still going to church every Saturday morning, and waiting patiently to one day make my announcement. I still remember being gutted when Saturday morning games started popping up it's ugly head in only my second year at high school!

The day of my announcement never came because I moved to Australia from NZ the same year I was turning 17. By this time it was quite evident that I wasn't a christian, my friends back then probably didn't know I was a christian. Furthermore, D-day came to me one day and I had to choose for myself and guess who was sitting with me in a room and challenging me to take the step over the threshold?..... yep my parents. I was 20 by that time, and I chose Christ, and I haven't regretted a day since. I think the living testimony of my parents were crucial in that decision, and I realise now that as a parent myself, I need to reciprocate this towards my own children so that this type of legacy is manifested through the generations.

I'm truly thankful to my parents for showing me consistency of character, integrity, and being awesome role models for my brother and I and for any other person they've been able to influence with their leadership. May God bless their souls. So whether you're a parent or not, somebody is looking to you an example. You matter much more than you think!

Shalom,

Dave