It takes a whole village to raise a child
Children are not only the future of the Church. As a matter of fact, the focus is on them already in the present, and a whole “village” looks after them: teachers, ministers, brothers and sisters, and of course, their families. Examples from three continents.
Nurture the child
The New Apostolic Church Southern Africa has declared 2019 as the Year of the Child. It started on a musical note with a big recorder project. This, however, is only one focus area. Parallel to this is another focus, namely the spiritual development of all children. The overarching theme is "Nurture the child".
The ministers in the District Church are being trained for this. The Soul Care Diary 2019, a publication for priestly ministers for use during soul care visits, is intended to support parents and children in developing godly virtues. One article, for example, which is entitled “Inheritance of faith” and is based on Proverbs 13: 22—“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children …”—refers to the longevity of the spiritual legacy that parents leave their children. Parents and grandparents are asked to think about the spiritual legacy they wish to leave to their children.
Learning to pray
Every year, the New Apostolic Church India publishes a calendar. This year’s theme is “Prayer”. There is a novelty this year: a web series of articles elaborating on the theme. The focus in the month of May is adoration and worship. “Worship is owed primarily to God, because He far transcends anything we can directly experience, and because all limitations are suspended in Him. It is in adoration and worship that the individual approaches the majesty of God in reverence, which comes to expression in terms such as ‘holiness’, ‘omnipotence’, and ‘eternity’.”
For thousands of years, believers have conveyed this knowledge and this inner attitude to their children and grandchildren. The May leaf is beautifully illustrated with pictures of children and young people praying.
Professing one’s faith
Across the world, young Christians are currently celebrating their confirmation. They publicly confess their faith in God before the congregation and renounce the devil. Following their vow, which goes back to an old baptismal confession, they receive a blessing. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider has dedicated Luke 6: 45 to this year’s confirmands: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
At the end of the month, thousands of young Christians will come together for the International Youth Convention in Düsseldorf (Germany). There is excitement everywhere as they look forward to celebrating their faith. Adding to the excitement is the IYC Guide, which the organisers have just published. Some 300 programme items await the young people—from divine services and music galore, to panel discussions, workshops, and presentations.
“It takes a whole village to raise a child,” an African proverb says. And when it comes to a child’s spiritual development, sometimes the whole congregation is involved—last week and in the coming week.