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FORMATION. You do not have to rely on the old adage that charity begins at home. The Church has decided to take part in shaping the young ones, explores Roland D. Nasasira.
When most people hear the word church, they probably think of a building. Maybe it is a fancy or simple building where believers gather. But biblically speaking, a church is much more than a building. In fact, some would say the church is not a building at all, but is all about the people.
During a symposium organised by World Vision’s Christian Commitments and Church Partnerships programme recently, it emerged that the church needs to reach out to people and especially children. This involves spiritual, physical, social as well as economical ways.
Under the theme, “The role of the church in shaping the future of children of Uganda,” Eria Luzina, the retired bishop of Mukono Diocese acknowledged the need for the church to take care of the children.
The retired cleric started by defining the church as not only a centre of modelling moral integrity and a development agency but also a blessed place to shape the people that society needs, especially children.
He referred to the bible in Matthew 18:5 that says; “And whoever welcomes one such child welcomes me,” says the Lord. He added, quoting another verse which says; “See that you do not despise one of those little ones, for I say to you that their angels in Heaven continually see the face of my father who is in Heaven.” Unfortunately, these days churches are set up with a fancy outlook and aim to recruiting more members (of course the adults) and end up neglecting the children.. Who will nurture them?
What the church should do
Fredrick Mukhwana, a child development lecturer at Uganda Christian University, a key note speaker, explained that for children to have a bright future, the church should not only be conscious of the children’s mandate and be friendly to them but also spread awareness to the congregation to advocate and mobilise for children’s concerns and rights.
“As parents, we should provide maximum opportunity for children and the youth to practice their faith and equip ourselves to fulfil God given responsibility to pass on our faith legacy to children,” Mukhwana advised.The church is strategically positioned to impart values among the children.
He noted that some of the vices that have shattered the children’s future include early marriage that accounts for 57 per cent, alcoholism that accounts for 46 per cent and 42 per cent of children having their first sexual intercourse before 14 years, plus exposure to social media without monitoring them..
Mukhwana advised parents to consider taking time to groom their children at different stages of growth. “Between the age of four and 14, a child is mouldable into anything a parent desires. Unfortunately, it is also the same period that parents do not have time for their children.”
What it takes
While it is every parent’s responsibility to identify places that are high risk areas for children and empower the community to provide, include and protect every child, he highlighted that every church should have chaplains in schools and trained Sunday school teachers to minister to children. “Let’s us walk our talk. When as a parent or church leader you say ask children to do something, they may not do it but follow your example. If you read the Bible, they will also read it,” Mukhwana explains.
While proper nurturing of a child to prepare them for the future does not come with ease, Mukhwana says it takes parents’ sacrifice, a shared vision as a church, prayer, humility, perseverance, patience, forgiveness, accountability and God being at the centre of this partnership. Mukhwana, like Luzinda, referred to the book of Malachi 4:6 that says; “He will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents, or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Martin Othieno Radool, senior programme manager at World Vision Uganda, Soroti cluster, concluded that transformational development of children includes a change in the values, attitudes and relationships towards children because church is widely recognised as a sustaining institution because it has big congregations with huge numbers.