Today’s Christian parent is faced with myriad challenges. Some of these are due to work-related commitments that interfere with family time. Others have to do with lack of knowledge when it comes to godly discipline and positive role modelling.
That is why I thank God for my born-again parents, who taught me God’s ways while I was still young. It was mandatory every Sunday morning for all of us – including my two older sisters and a brother – to go to church; no excuse was entertained.
At first, we were staunch Seventh Day Adventists but in 1986, when I was 10 years old, we moved to Bible Baptist Church in Katito, a small town in Kisumu County. There I joined the Sunday school department and became an active participant under American missionaries Lonnie Brooks and his wife Georgine.
The teachings I received there, the prayers I made and the Bible verses I recited weekly moulded me into what I am today. I often ask myself where I would be now if my parents had not been keen on parenting me in a godly way.
Because of my passion and commitment in Sunday school, when I was 12 I began translating the missionaries’ teachings from English into Dholuo. Over time it dawned on me that being religious was not enough to please God, and I finally gave my life to Christ on August 13, 1989 at the same church. A week later I got baptised by immersion in River Awach, about five kilometres away.
Life was very different back then. I looked after cattle during the school holidays or on weekends and helped my mother occasionally with household chores. I would wake up at 5:30am daily and prepare myself for school before having some lukewarm porridge, often with sweet potatoes, and walking the three kilometres to St Aloys Primary School, arriving at 7am.
Since there was no Disney Junior’s Babar and the Adventures of Badou cartoonsor Inspekta Mwala to watch on television back then, there was no need to rush back home. Did I mention that we did not own a television to begin with? The only one available was a black-and-white Great Wall set belonging to a neighbour who lived half a kilometre away. I went there twice a week after school to watch Vitimbi and Vioja Mahakamani which featured characters like Othorong’ong’o Danger (played by Joseph Anyona), Amka Twende (Benjamin Otieno), Otoyo Obambla (Samuel Mwangi) and Masanduku arap Simiti (Sammy Muya).
Occasionally, I also watched Football made in Germany. Back then, TV programming started at 4pm and ended at midnight, and there was no need for a remote control to change channels because the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) enjoyed a monopoly over the airwaves.
My life then was a sharp contrast to the way my two daughters live today. They were born in a world of colour TVs and remote controls, and are daily bombarded with advertisements and images that glorify ungodly lifestyles such as sex outside marriage – even making it look like a normal way of life.
The viewing of explicit content among young people has increased, including physical displays of affection, which is something that was once frowned upon, and the use of contraceptives among young girls to prevent “unwanted” pregnancies. There is even a World Contraception Day, launched by the World Health Organisation in 2007 and observed every September 26. The mission of this worldwide campaign is to improve awareness of contraception and enable young people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.
That is why I believe godly parenting is something to be highly valued. Sadly, many parents today are more focused on providing their children with physical basics such as food, clothing, education and shelter. Only a few address the social and spiritual aspects of their children’s lives.
A new study by Pew Research Centre on the religious practices of children aged between 13 and 17 years says the majority of American teens still follow their parents’ lead when it comes to religion. The poll found that evangelical teens, like their parents, stand out as the most confident and active in their faith when compared to their peers.
“Over half of evangelical teens said they attend church at least weekly (64 per cent), pray at least daily (51 per cent) and belong to a youth group (64 per cent), compared to a minority of teen respondents from other traditions,” states the survey that was published by Christianity Today on September 10.
Pastor Ken Yapha of River of Life Fellowship in Nairobi’s Donholm Estate often says children are messages parents send into the distant future they will never get to, hence the need to raise them in a godly manner. That is why despite the many societal challenges, every parent should pay attention to what Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”, failing which we will have a generation that is alive in body but dead in conscience.