Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6
There’s usually a healthy discomfort that comes with seeing extravagant wealth juxtaposed with abject poverty. It’s troubling enough when we know it’s going on thousands of miles away. But when a short 10-minute drive reveals two vastly different ends of the economic spectrum, it brings up plenty of questions.
While in South Africa with my family this spring, our children were confronted with the grim reality of deep poverty. We drove through posh sections of Cape Town only to travel three miles further down the road to witness the absolute squalor of some townships. It created plenty of opportunities to discuss those challenging questions that we grapple with during our journey of faith.
We used our experience not only to immerse our children in another culture but also to teach them a few things about the character of God, starting with his sovereignty. We also talked with them about God’s grace and His mercy. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in the same situation as the many people we saw, except for His mercy in our lives. When the “Why?” questions came, we were able to explain that what happened is the result of living in a fallen world where the greed and selfishness of man has created this terrible situation.
I enjoyed watching my children awaken to the heart of God, responding with mercy and love toward those they encountered who had obvious need. They wanted to help everyone. And while that was simply impossible, we were able to talk about ways to truly help others and what that looks like.
Those are the moments that excite you as a parent. It’s thrilling to see the stirring of your children’s hearts as they begin to move in sync with God’s own heart.