Fullerton William Young is the man who profiled for us the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Young recounts an incident when John Spurgeon, the father to Charles Spurgeon, turned back from an engagement to attend to his family after having a conviction that he needed to mentor them the same way he was doing with other people’s children. John’s itinerant involved trotting from one place to another. In this particular incident, he was on his way to a preaching engagement when it struck him that he was steeped into helping straighten other people’s children while neglecting his own. He decided to go back and take care of his children’s spiritual needs too. He reached his home and entered quietly only to find his wife, Eliza Jarvis, praying for her children’s conversion. John Spurgeon concluded that his children spiritual welfare was in good hands and he consequently returned to his preaching appointment.
The Spurgeons were people who loved God, and it is clear that they left an indelible mark in the lives of their children specifically Charles. This can be evidenced in the way Charles grew up: He read John Bunyan’ The Pilgrim’s Progress at the age of six; read Scriptures at family worship and memorized hymns and would later use them in his adult preaching. Charles’ teachers said that he was very intelligent too: Too bright for his age.
His grandfather was not left behind. He had impressionable marks on the young Charles Spurgeon too.
Charles Spurgeon crops up whenever names such as Catherine Booth, John Wesley, John Bunyan, Susanna Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield, are floated. Profound spiritual upbringing provided a strong foundation that would propel Spurgeon to prominent levels.
Catherine Booth is another great servant of the Kingdom who benefited from stout Christian foundation. Catherine read through her Bible several times when she was still a child. She was a bright girl who was considered by people of the day as an intellectual. She had read the Bible eight times by the time she was twelve years. Her mother Sarah, who schooled her at home, had taught her selflessness, piety and submission to the will of God. She read Christian literature by John Wesley and Charles Finney.
Get the clay while it is still wet
According to Barna Group, an Evangelical research firm based in the United States, a half of children who embrace Christianity before their teenage, do so after guidance from their parents. This is according to a research that was conducted in 2004. Several other researches have been carried out with fairly similar findings.
Barna Group goes ahead to inform us that the age a person accepts Christ as personal Saviour impacts on their Faith:
- People who become Christians before their teens are likely to remain ‘absolutely committed’ to Christianity.
- Those who embrace Christianity while they are between 13 to 21 years of age, are less likely to describe themselves as ‘deeply spiritual’; are less likely to be charismatic or Pentecostal; and are less likely to engage in lifestyle evangelism.
- Those who accepted Christ in their adult years are less likely to have a biblical view of God; are less likely to believe that divorce without an instance of adultery is sin; and more likely to believe that the Bible is accurate in its teaching and that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
“Notice that when someone is born again during their adult years, their beliefs are an inconsistent blend of biblical and non-biblical ideas that lead to some unusual lifestyles and some questionable evangelistic explanations. However, those adult converts are also more likely to be involved in church activities and to be serious about sharing their faith with non-believers.”
– George Barna
The findings of this research and other similar studies help us arrive at several conclusions: That it is important for the Church to reach out to as many preteens as possible. It is at this age when serious molding and shaping takes place. Lifestyles adopted at this age get ingrained and become lifetime beliefs and practices. Parents should take note of this fundamental reality.
“Families, churches and parachurch ministries must recognize that primary window of opportunity for effectively reaching people with the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is during the pre-teen years. It is during those years that people develop their frames of reference for the remainder of their life – especially theologically and morally. Consistently explaining and modeling truth principles for young people is the most critical factor in their spiritual development.”
– George Barna
There is uncouth trend that has been taking shape in Kenya. Teenagers, chiefly from both informal and formal settlement have been joining criminal gangs at a worrying rate. Gaza Boys, Baragoi boys, Sikujui, Taliban Boys, Kawangware Boys, Young Killers among others are typically made up of boys below twenty years of age. It is a nerve-wracking trend. It proves that we have serious cracks in our social fabric. The warps and wefts are hanging loosely. Our abdication of parental and guardianship responsibilities is making us pay a heavy price. It pains to see a seventeen year boy felled under a barrage of police bullets. It pains more to see a sixteen year old boy take up a gun and kill innocent citizen to get money.
We have the opportunity of arresting this situation by bringing our teens and preteens together and showing them the Way.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
– Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (The Message Bible).