While I was playing with my two boys on the family jungle gym, I paid attention to the way my eldest son (age 3) related to me as his father and the way that he related to his younger brother (age 1).
I noted certain behaviours that can only be explained through an understanding of sinful nature.However, in the blink of an eye the same child is transformed into the most precious angelic being.
Right there I started guiding my son in prayer as we played and making him more aware of the fact that God is always with us. I told him that Jesus loves him and sees everything he does, how he plays and how he shares toys with his brother.
As the day progressed, I saw that my son showed a great interest in this concept and had the ability to run the race I planned ahead. When his mom arrived with some yogurt, out of his own, my son prayed as he sat on mommy’s lap, ready to dig into the tub of yogurt.
The next day I delved into my theology books, trying to discover either a definition of or a meaning behind the spirituality of children. I found a working definition in the work of Dr. R. Nye “Children’s spirituality: what it is and why it matters”. Her explanation fundamentally changed the way in which I defined my own son’s spiritual life and identity in Christ. Nye’s definition was simple:
It is God’s relationship with the child And it is the child’s relationship with God
It was daunting to think that, even as a father, I am an outsider to this relationship between Father and son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the author of life, and all mankind find life within Him (John 1:1-4).
We as parents must never underestimate the capacity to author life to our children. If we accept this commission to train our children, we are certain we can rely on the authority of the risen Lord.
We as parents therefore have the authority to build up, to correct, to rebuke, to encourage and make disciples of our children.
The best way to encourage the child to cultivate and grow in his relationship with his Heavenly Father is to do so in child’s natural environment: the home and his playground.
-David J. Rudolph
And the best way to train is to use the child’s natural strengths, playful nature and curiosity (as I learned on that day at the family jungle gym). It was through this passion within me, as a father and a missionary,that God called me to assist other parents in my community to fulfill their biblical mandate and
transform their children into lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ – kids who know, love and serve God.