Monday, 28 August 2017

Following Hard After God - Book Review by George A. Lane

Many thanks to Andy Lane for this review of my book - Following Hard After God - Discover how to make the pursuit of God your life time affair. Have a nice read.

Having a close personal and ever increasing relationship with God is the most essential need for believers.  All other aspects of our faith walk as Christians depend on the spiritual growth and grooming that results from this relationship with our Heavenly Father.  In Following Hard After God, Chris Ekwedam provides a view of how we must adjust our desires and actions in order to become Seekers of God.  This is a view that will not be found in the rituals and dogmas of religion.  While it is ever so important to repent “from” sin, an even more important aspect of repentance that is often not adequately emphasized is “Turning Toward” God to truly seek His will for our lives.  Here in this book, Ekwedam takes the other approach to illustrate the importance of turning toward and following after God, and so the necessity of turning away from our selves, worldly influences, and sin becomes obvious in comparison.

In each chapter, the reader is challenged to consider the many distractions, both from worldly influences as well as our own human natures, which draw our attention away from this relationship that we most desire and need.  Perhaps the most important challenge is to put away the many various inadequate images of who God is that we are trained to imagine by religion and social conventions: images that limit our faith and access to God as the source and supply for all our needs.  Realizing that this is a process, a lifelong journey, to learn who God truly is and who we truly are to God, Ekwedam admits, “My aim is not to give you the A, B, C, on how to quench the thirst of your soul and satisfy this great desire that you have; my intention is to help you kick start the journey.”

Following Hard After God is certainly among the most clear-cut and direct discussions of this topic that I have ever read.  It makes an excellent text for the introduction to any curriculum of Biblical / ministry studies.  I refer to this as an introductory text because it is much better to begin the Journey with this understanding in hand than to correct bad study, worship, and Seeking habits once they have been formed.  And likewise, it is a great book to give as a gift or to recommend to those we are inevitably in a position to assist and encourage on their journey with God.

George A. Lane

Chairman, Advisory Board - Vision Bible College Support Society
Project Manager, Vision Bible College Campus Development Project

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Going beyond the Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes as a Panacea for abandoned Children

There are Orphanages that are doing a great job in giving care to abandoned children especially children born under uncertain circumstances. There are other 'orphanages' run as an enterprise where the owners are there, not because they have any burden for abandoned children, but just to enrich themselves. Most of them are not registered and operate without authorized license. They are the ones that engage in the so-called baby industry racket. Individuals and groups visit them and donate money, food and sanitary items only for the items to be diverted for their personal use.

Now, is anybody asking where the children that grow up in some Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes around us end up? Where do they end up when they turn ten-eleven years old? Most of them end up in the streets while the Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes continue to bring in more babies and continue their activities. I read a piece by Sarah Zylstra on Why Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage, and I found it interesting how a ministry was able to evaluate their activities and change their approach. The purpose of this discourse is to make a case for Adoption; it should be the end goal for Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes especially as it concerns the little children below the teenage age who do not have any real families to call their own.

The best environment for a child to grow and develop is in a family home. One of the greatest gifts the family gives to a child is IDENTITY. The Orphanage and Motherless Babies Homes cannot give this gift to a child. A child that has no identity enters into crisis early in his/her teens. Only very few come out of this crisis without developing hatred, anger, and resentment against the society and established authorities.

Another gift the family gives to the child is the opportunity to receive TRAINING both as per education, values and morals. Most of the parents seeking to adopt babies belong to the middle class. They can give the child minimum education. Cultural ethics and morals are taught the child in the family which prepares him for the life ahead.

The next gift the family gives is that of LOVE AND SUPPORT. The chances of a child who did not receive parental love to become aggressive and violent later in life are very high. These are the fabrics that hold the society together to ensure the continued survival and existence of our specie. 

We live in a country where scarce data is kept. Most research works are bogus and not addressing real problems. We are not able to plan and forecast. We are just reacting to life’s immediate situations; hence we are not able to appreciate these societal problems and their consequences both mid-term and long-term.

The point is that as the light of the world, Christians have to do things that work; things that bring real transformation to both lives and the society.  It is good to run Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes, but it has to be only a holding point. Efforts should be made to put every child from an Orphanage or Motherless Babies Home into a family home. We may not be able to put every child into a family home, especially grown up ones, but we can reduce this number and pray that those that remain in Orphanage Homes receive God's touch.

Why should many Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes be filled with little children when many couples are looking for children to adopt? Why should a couple seeking to adopt a child pay through their nose when actually they are not just adopting to meet a need in their lives but also helping to build the society by giving the child a future? Many questions, right? But it is only in answering them sincerely can we have a paradigm shift that we need. God bless you.

Abandoned Street Children - The Church’s Response

Our cities are littered with children who are abandoned by their parents and care-givers. Most of them live in Motor Parks, uncompleted buildings and under the Bridges. Others street-hawk or are used by their supposed-to-be guardians to service their own families and are abandoned later when their services are no longer required. But how did they come to that point?

Causes of abandonment of children include:
1. Unwanted pregnancies by young adults who cannot carter for their children when they are born. Our African societies do not have much sympathy for any girl that makes the mistake of getting pregnant before marriage. They do not put any serious responsibility on the shoulders of the man who impregnated the girl. As a result, some of the girls, especially those living alone in cities, will hide the pregnancy from their parents and relatives but throw away the baby once they are born. Others will live with the baby for some time but when they grow up, they are abandoned by their mother who is not able to care for them properly by sending them to school. Some of the women who have the fear of God or are advised properly consult with some Christian Hospitals or Social Welfare, early enough, to take the babies for adoption after birth. Absence of social security systems in the country only worsens the situation.

2. Poverty of parents who give birth to high number of children which they do not have enough resources to take care of. This makes them to either send the children out as early as at seven years old to learn a trade or to be a house-maid to some families or give them out in early marriage. More often than not, these children end up in the streets, as these actions of their parents are not to their best interests.

3. Pregnancies by lunatics, female beggars and disabled people who give birth to children around our society. Most of them will not allow anybody to take their babies from them, thus the children grow only to walk away to fetch for themselves once they are above seven years old. Social work by churches and religious bodies is not robust in our societies.

4. Religio-culturally motivated abandonment is a problem that is widely spread in the Northern Nigeria. These abandoned children are popularly called 'Almajiris'. It is true that the religio-cultural system has a way of attempting to care for these children; however, statistics have shown that most of the children end up in the streets because they are not equipped with the education that can carry them on through life. In fact, the reason Boko Haram is having enough available recruits every now and then even after each time they are decimated may not be far from this fact that there are a lot of abandoned grown up children who are within reach.

5. Exploitative and ignorant "Motherless babies homes". These also help to throw children into our streets. How? When the children grow up to eight – ten years old, they tend to become uncontrollable. The only thing the Orphanage will do is to push them out; hence they go out with that frustration and become dangerous in the society.

The church can take up the issue of abandoned street children as an opportunity for evangelism. We can build Orphanages to take these grown up children out of the streets. We can develop social support projects in our churches. What are the practical ways your church is impacting their communities? Does your church have schools for their communities? Are they mission schools or just business establishments? Does your church have skill acquisition projects? Do you have any program for the street children? 

If you have met any of them during evangelism, you will agree that the Gospel they understand must deal with both their spiritual and immediate physical situations. Let us do our part because these souls matter too.