He was about the size of my 7-month-old son, but my Food for the Hungry guide told me he was a 5-year-old. His engaging smile drew me in to his shy handshake. He curled into a laughing ball as the orphanage director tickled him. I thought his contagious giggle must have resembled the singing of God’s angels in heaven.
Then I learned he would soon die from an incurable lung infection. He had contracted the disease on a desperate trek across a Somali desert in search for food. His parents didn’t survive the trip.
That moment—my heart broken and my understanding of the world turned upside down—forever changed me. I wanted to fix my new friend. My guide told me to let go, return home and encourage Americans to help others like him by funding projects and sponsoring children.
|Food for the Hungry empowers some of the world’s most vulnerable mothers to better care for their children’s physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional needs.|
In that short encounter, God began using Food for the Hungry to teach me (and, ultimately, my son) that poverty—whether physical, spiritual, emotional or intellectual—is caused by broken relationships in four areas. No human is whole without these potent bonds, so it’s important that we parents help our children develop them. Here are some ideas about how you can nurture them in your children. [Tweet this]
1 – Model a healthy relationship with God.
People who are poor in spirit usually will be poor in other ways. God designed the relationship with Him to be our most important link.
Deuteronomy 6 and 11 tell us to love the Lord, obey his commands and teach our children about His teachings by: “Talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Tell your kids that God made all of creation. Talk about His beneficial instructions for staying healthy–and model that behavior in your own life. Help them notice and appreciate how God has blessed them. Let them see you studying the Bible, praying, journaling, appropriately confessing your sins.
2 – Show your children how to love and respect others.
Caring people often exude generosity and compassion.
Romans 12:10 says to: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
The American culture has moved away from this teaching, evidenced daily on television sitcoms and news stories. As a parent, you can counteract negative cultural teachings by insisting that your children follow your lead in your behavior toward others.
Don’t allow your children to insult others, teach them about the power of their words, recognize and praise the people around you for how God has made them without suggesting that one person is better than another. Teach your children to manage conflict and give kudos for positive conduct.
3 – Teach your children to care for God’s creation.
People exhibit biblical stewardship when they correctly care for wildlife and the environment.
The book of Genesis tells us that God put humans in charge of caring for creation. Yet, the soil in many areas of the world is so depleted that it no longer can produce nutritious crops. Water is so polluted that it makes children sick.
Teach your children that God created everything and manifests through all of creation. Get them used to being around and properly treating animals. Model biblical stewardship by picking up trash and conserving water. Take your children along when you recycle harmful chemicals—unused medications and used engine oil, for example—at appropriate facilities.
4 – Create an atmosphere where self-confidence can flourish.
A child with a healthy self-esteem is less likely to fall victim to cultural lies. Children gain self-esteem by knowing they are made in God’s image and individually loved and respected by Him and you.
In his book, Have a New Kid by Friday, noted psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman outlined the ABCs of cultivating a healthy self-esteem in children: Acceptance (listen and ask questions to show you care about their interests and concerns rather than criticizing), Belonging (allowing them to take part in decisions, supporting their involvement in activities such as sports and music) and Competence (resist the urge to be over protective or do things that children can do themselves).
Food for the Hungry has seen the profound impact of people reconciling these four relationships. Whether you live in a Nairobi slum, a Beverly Hills mansion or a middle-class neighborhood anywhere, we want to help you bring these connections into harmony in your life, to equip you to better instruct and nurture your children. We’ve created a free Bible study to get you started. You can use it in a group or on your own. Download 4 Relationships That Will Make You Whole right now. [Tweet this]
Karen Randau works at Food for the Hungry is Phoenix, Arizona. Her passion is to help the world’s most vulnerable children to thrive and reach the potential that God designed for them. Her Africa encounter set her on a path to raising a generous and caring son, who is now a young father.
Thanks to Food for the Hungry for partnering to share this post with my community.