Pastor Amos Lee
Two weeks ago, I was sitting across from a brother in Christ enjoying our lunch at an all-day Evangelism Conference organized by the Northern California Chinese Baptist Association. Our small talk soon led us to what we heard earlier in the morning when the Keynote Speaker, Rev. William Eng from Orange County, Southern California spoke on “Reaching the Next Generation for Christ.” Rev. Eng was most qualified to speak on the topic for his more than 30 years of experience pastoring, working with and reaching out to American born/raised Chinese in the US.
Our conversation then turned more somber to the topic of our children (Yes! We are very Chinese!!) and how we should raise them in the Lord so that they will walk in the straight and narrow. He has two school going teenage daughters and I have a grown son. He is worried for his younger one. But we agreed on one thing – our culture is very unkind to the faith of our children and it is the parents who are the real disciplers and ministers to their own children. We cannot shirk that responsibility even though we might have great youth programs and youth ministers in our churches. These supplement our efforts as parents.
However, we cannot fault our culture entirely. We have to take responsibility because we are part of that culture. If we as Christian parents do not impart the faith to our children, we are just one generation away from unbelief! And the numbers are not good. Not a few of our children who have grown up in Christian homes and churches have dropped out of church and their faith when they go to college and move on in their careers. And as parents we have no idea where we have gone wrong when we have been faithful in bringing them to church and doing our bit in trying to be faithful in church. Often, parents fail to realize that doing those two needful things alone do not necessarily add up to much in helping their children grow in their faith. Those actions must be followed up by what they do in the privacy of their homes and life in general apart from church, living out their faith transparently in front their children that teaches them what faith and faithfulness is all about. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) For you see, faith is caught in the course of living more so than taught!
The big turn off for youths is to see the hypocrisy of their parents when they profess one thing (the Christian faith) and act contrary to that faith. Jesus asked a pointed question for us to ponder: When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8b) Will He or won’t He? That’s THE question for every Christian parent for now until He comes again!
同軛手記 – 我們子女有信德麼?
對於孩子們的成長，我們的談話變得凝重，心情鬱悶。我們要怎樣在主裡教育栽培自己的孩子、以至他們的人生在正直和跟隨神的窄路中行走呢? 那位弟兄有兩位女兒，都正在青少年時期，當中令他最擔心的是細女。我有一個成年的兒子。我們作為父親，有一觀點非常認同，就是現今美國抗拒神和不信神的文化，對我們孩子的信仰實在非常不利, 而 基督徒父母本身就是孩子真正的導師，不能輕忽或推卸這個責任。縱使在我們的教會裡，有很多非常好的青少年事工，或有忠心服侍青少年人的牧者，這些都只是作補充劑，絕不能取代父母的教導。
然而, 我們不能將責任完全歸咎於今天美國社會的文化，因為我們也是文化中的一部份。我們必需對存在的問題有所承擔。如果我們作為基督徒父母，卻不能以生命影響生命，把活潑的信心、基督的信仰帶進孩子的生命中，我們的下一代將會逐漸遠離不信神! 數據顯示，許多在基督教家庭或教會長大的孩子，在上大學或進入職場後，便離開了教會和信仰。作為父母的，不知那裡出錯。他們以為自己一直忠心地把孩子帶進教會，並且自己在教會裡也盡一點力以表忠誠便是了。 他們沒認識到，單單做這兩件需要的事情，不一定能幫助他們的孩子信心增長。他們必須明白在教會以外，就是在他們的家庭和生活為人處事中，特別在孩子面前切實地活出他們的信心/ 信仰。如此，孩子從他們身上才能學到什麼是信心/ 信仰和忠誠。正如申命記6章4-9節說:「4以色列阿，你要聽！耶和華─我們神是獨一的主。5你要盡心、盡性、盡力愛耶和華─你的神。6我今日所吩咐你的話都要記在心上，7也要殷勤教訓你的兒女。無論你坐在家裡，行在路上，躺下，起來，都要談論。8也要繫在手上為記號，戴在額上為經文；9又要寫在你房屋的門框上，並你的城門上。」從經文可見，信心/信仰並不只是言教，更是身教、從生活的過程中將信仰顯明出來!
對年青人來說，對信仰最大的障礙是看見父母虛偽。倘若他們見父母一方面自稱有基督信仰，卻在行事為人上背道而馳，這會造成很壞的影響。耶穌在路加福音18章8節下，問了一個尖銳的問題，值得我們深思:「然而，人子來的時候，遇得見世上有信德麼？」衪會遇見? 還是不會？ 這個問題，每個基督徒家長都要問一問自己，直到主再來 !