That Sunday, I arrived at the Assemblies of God Church, impressed deeply that each time I went to that branch to minister, something new would take place. This time, it was the expansion of their auditorium. A woman came and greeted me in a most familiar way. ‘Are you the guest minister?’ she asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘I have been waiting for you,’ she said, and dashed out. Within split seconds, Pastor Sule had come to receive me.
I thanked them for inviting me and also for the renovation going on in their church. ‘As you are building for God, He will build for each of you,’ I blessed them. I then detailed the four caretakers for children: Parents, church, school and the society. I told them that I would concentrate on the parents. ‘Before Esau and Jacob were born,’ I reminded them, ‘God had revealed their gender and nature to Rebecca, their mother, and not to the pastor of the church they would attend, not to the headmaster of the school they would attend nor the president of their country.
Adam and Eve did not bear Cain and Abel before their marriage. That was to ensure comfort and protection for their children. All parents owe their children a great measure of responsibility until they grow up. Even when the human eaglets are fully fledged and have left their nets, they are still regarded as children by their parents’.
I spent a night with a family that has only one child in Maryland, in the US. The parents are committed Christians. When the boy was 16 years old, he told them that he would not be that age twice. That is, “Leave me, for I’m an adult”, while still living with the parents, enjoying free food and accommodation. If he had reached the age of 18, he could be sued for food and for rent for the room he was occupying if he refused to pay the bills. What we learn from this is that children clamour for freedom even when they cannot pay the price. Therefore, they need caretakers.
I used the family of Isaac, the son of Abraham, whose marriage with Rebecca was absolutely by the will of God, in examining the responsibilities of parents as the caretakers of their children. If Isaac and Rebecca failed in executing the duty, I wonder who would succeed and this is the reason we must be careful and dutiful concerning our children.
We should provide them a home. In Gen 25: 28, the Bible tells us that Isaac loved Esau because of the food he was serving him while Rebecca loved Jacob. That was more of a National Assembly with two political parties – PDP and APC – than a home. Theirs was a house not a home. Parents should provide a home. The difference is enormous. A home is different from school, church, et cetera. A thief, a murderer or a mischief maker may be reprimanded or rejected anywhere but is welcomed in a home. A home is where a child tells the story as it is. It is where he is welcomed if he failed his examination or is a failure in life.
Esau returned from his hunting expedition one day hungry and begged Jacob for the food he was cooking. It cannot happen in my family. It can happen in a house but not in a home. I cannot imagine any of my children, who will not take the food. Why should he beg for it? I raised my children to know that they are one. They ‘give’ and do not ‘loan’ to one another. What belongs to A belongs relatively to B. If each of them leaves like a hermit, then my wife and I have failed in our duty as Christian parents. Any man can train his children in any other way.
We welcome people of all sorts in our home. Of the 36 states in Nigeria, there was a time people from six states were living with us. Students compete to spend their holidays with us. One girl was once recalled by her parents after some weeks. She went home fuming. The dad asked her whether she wanted to go back and she acquiesced. She was sent back to us. It was not about good food nor a cosy environment. It was about acceptance of every child.
Parents are to provide love. I told them to spell ‘love’. They did but I rejected their spelling. ‘S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E’ I spelt for them. They laughed and clapped their hands for me. Jacob was envying his brother’s birthright and seeking to buy it, a symptom of no love. Children will respond to love if they see it between their parents. If their mum must fast and pray before obtaining their dad’s “visa” to go and see her sick mother, their children know that there is no love between them. If their dad flies his mother to Lagos when she is sick but tells his darling wife to contact her elder brothers when her mum is sick, children also understand that type of love between their parents. Kelechi, my second son, said that children learn from what parents DO and not what they SAY!
Chinenye, my cousin, lived with me for 17 years. We were so close that she reported to me advances to her from men. Most of the time, I drafted the reply of her letters to them. If parents make themselves LASTMA or MOPOL, their children will fear them and will not share intimate things with them.
Parents should assume spiritual responsibilities for their children. What we see in the family of Isaac is rivalry – Gen 25: 30 – 34. Esau was ready to sell his birthright – evidence of no fasting life. Jacob insisted that the contract must be legally executed because of lack of trust on his twin brother. Rebecca hatched a successful coup in which Jacob supplanted Esau, his elder brother. Jacob did not object. His worry was whether his Dad would find out the deception. But Joseph, rejecting the evil proposal of his amorous master’s wife said, ‘How can I do such wickedness and sin against God?’ This is all revealing of the spiritual weakness in Isaac’s family.
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0909 041 9057; [email protected]