I've been thinking a lot lately about the African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child."
After listening (twice) to Shane Farmer's message, he talked about having 5-6 Godly adults active in your children's lives, I wondered who was out there for my kids? I really prayed hard about this, I never even thought to pray that they be revealed to me, but that's just God's special way of rewarding those who seek him. And, it's been exciting to see God revealing them to me little by little.
I have three great examples for you! (as I have 3 kids)
My oldest was at youth group, and I was talking to someone while waiting for her. They told me that "I'm watching out for her, she's my kid! I had her in Sparks (Awana) when she was just little. I want you to know that I pray for her!" - Wow. This really touched me as I've been telling the kids that people who work with you when you were little, are still watching you, loving you, praying for you.. and you may never know exactly who they are. I then urged them to say hello to these special people in their lives who've given and sacrificed so much to help teach them. Even if they just have a tiny recollection of their involvement in their lives, please say hello.. I promise they'll remember you!
I still remember the kids I taught in VBS one particular year. I've seen these beautiful ladies grow up into amazing women of faith, and servants of the Lord. I pray for them when I see them or think about them. I feel the same way as the previous person I was talking about. They're "my kids!" They are both currently on their "gap year" traveling with missions to other countries right now. This is really the neatest idea. After graduation, you apply to a missions trip that takes the entire spring/summer and sometimes longer. You find out who you really are, grind your feet solidly into the ground - the foundation of your faith, and focus on others. Some come back to start their first year of college, some go on into the mission field, and some realize that college wasn't where they *had* to be, and continued on to raise a family.
- A great place to start looking for information on this would be Ventana Ministries it will give you a great idea about what a gap year is and does.
My middle one is going on a missions trip very soon. They are told to send out sponsor letters, and he was a bit nervous as he carefully decided who he would send these to. One person he really feels connected to is a Sunday School teacher when he was younger. He would always lean his head into her classroom and say hello..long after he had moved on. Just the other day, this particular teacher called him. She questioned him about his upcoming trip, asked how she could pray for him personally, as well as their entire group. I was immediately struck with this being yet another person in our kid's lives who are praying on their behalf. I welled up with tears as I listened to him carefully articulate their mission, and knowing he doesn't like to talk on the phone, I was very proud of him. I just knew his heart was in the right place, and that this teacher was part of his village! Who does that anymore? This really spoke to me. I realized I need to be more active in actually telling the people that I am praying for them. That they mean something to me, and that they are not alone. They are "my kids" as well.
Last one - and I tell you, these are just in the last couple of weeks that I've been praying for people to be in their lives, that would take an interest in them, personally..
My youngest was at Awana, and the buzz was over Awana games. She wanted to do this so bad, but once again, it was something else to be added to our plate. At this time, I had to tell her no.
One of her teachers noticed what was going on. I never knew the depths of this woman's love for kids, or for my children alone.. until she met me privately a bit later and asked if I would consider her coming to pick her up, and take her home afterwards. This may not sound like a big deal to most, but she does know were we live. And, it's nowhere near our church. This would be quite a trip in, and backtrack to the church, then take her home and so on.. I was a little taken back, but told her thank you and I couldn't ask her to do something like that. She told me, "I know, I asked you."
So I go home and the next day received a heartfelt email about how it would actually minister to her as her children are almost all gone. She said she was in a different season of life and would really enjoy coming to get her as they have bonded a lot this year. Wow! After swallowing my pride, and accepting, I realized how excited she was about this as well. Praise the Lord for someone else coming to light as someone in her village! Someone that will come alongside of her and pray, and lead, and be a Godly example to them.
Our kids need this so much as sometimes us parents are not the ones they will keep their eyes on at all times. Don't get me wrong, they're watching...very closely, but they also need someone other than the ones they are with 24/7.
I am so thankful for these particular ones that are in the lives of my children. These are only 3 examples. I could go on as another woman asked about my oldest the other night. She has also reached out to her. And, you know where my role will be in this? To accept. This is hard. I will accept, and I will also pray. I will pray for these special leaders that are absolutely a Godsend in our lives, that our children will see this, and become someone else's "village member" one day.
So, I ask you - "Who's in your village?" I challenge you to pray about it, and consider sharing this with others. Wouldn't this be amazing if we could actually start a chain of people reaching out, and letting our kids know, if we would only pray that they would be revealed to us. And that our Lord Jesus Christ's name would be praised as a result.
I'd love to hear about your similar stories. They would help encourage me, and others who read this!