I know a boy who experienced pain and suffering most of his young life. His mother died of cancer and his father was later killed in a tribal dispute. This made him one of millions of orphans living in the country of Kenya. He tried to stay with his uncle, but that brought so many beating, that he needed to run away. Living on the streets, he struggled to survive by eating garbage. He would also sneak into nearby schools for a chance to learn like other children. This boy was being treated like an animal instead of someone created in God’s image. My family learned about him when he was rescued off the streets by Oasis for Orphans, an organization that was already caring for his two sisters.
The boy’s name is Edward and we have been sponsoring him since he was 12 years old. One of my greatest joys has been meeting Edward face-to-face and telling him how much he is loved by us and by God. Even though it was not possible to adopt him, we immediately considered him part of our family. Edward is now 18 years old. He is tall, kind, and has an infectious smile. He is a hard worker that has excelled in school despite having to catch-up on all subjects. Edward is a caring leader among the other children in the orphanage and wants to honor Jesus with his life. I thank God for being able to witness his transformation; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I just returned from a missions trip where we sat down and talk through some exciting college plans.
Last month my church's children’s ministry was focusing on the environment of Love and Respect. This environment, from Michelle Anthony’s Spiritual Parenting book, recognizes that children need both love and respect in order to be free to both receive and give God’s grace. Without love, our faith becomes futile. Without respect, our self-esteem falters. Children, like Edward, who are deprived of both, are at a serious disadvantage. No family is going to get this perfect, but we should all be striving to let love and respect reign in our homes. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12:10 (NLT) to, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” As parents, we will be more effective if we model this for our children instead of demanding it from them.
Now that summer has ended, we are managing all the responsibilities of school. This can bring a new level of busyness and stress for us and our children. I pray that our focus on love and respect will keep us grounded in what matters most.