Families more critical than ever in growing faith, fighting extremism
Elvin and Esther Foong // January 28, 2021, 3:19 pm
"When we consider the fact that out of 168 hours in a week, only two of those are spent in a church setting (probably less now due to the pandemic), we cannot overstate the importance of family when it comes to spiritual and emotional formation," say Elvin and Esther Foong from The Treasure Box SG. Photo courtesy of Elvin and Esther Foong.
We read with great shock and sadness the news of the 16-year-old boy arrested under the Internal Security Act for plotting to attack members of the Muslim community.
Despite his self-professed affiliation to the Christian faith, his ideology is starkly at odds with everything Christians believe and what is taught in the Bible, and we are thankful that the authorities were able to take action before he could carry out his deeply misguided and heinous plans.
It grieves us even more to learn that there were no means of earlier intervention regarding his way of thinking, because his family and friends were unaware of his motivations.
What is increasingly coming into focus is the criticality of families in growing faith in children at home.
What was the missing link? Was it that he was able to conceal his contempt from everyone around him? Or was there no place for him to communicate his growing mental and emotional disquiet over the years – after all, radicalisation is not an event but a process.
Our intent is not to demonise the young man nor his parents. We are not, and will never be, in any position to judge their actions or motivations, as there are many unseen and unknown factors that lie beyond our limited perception and human understanding.
Nevertheless, while the reasons for this young life being led astray by extremist ideology may be unclear, what is increasingly coming into focus is the criticality of families in growing faith in children at home.
Are we outsourcing our children’s spiritual growth?
When we consider the fact that out of 168 hours in a week, only two of those are spent in a church setting (probably less now due to the pandemic), we cannot overstate the importance of family when it comes to spiritual and emotional formation.
We believe that growing faith at home should be carried out in concert with deepening and enriching family relationships, and that both should be done with the utmost intentionality.
When we create an environment where our children feel comfortable asking difficult questions, and where they know they will receive authentic answers, however imperfect, then we have a better chance of ensuring that they do not subscribe to radical, extremist ideas, no matter how great the pressure may be to succumb.
“Growing faith at home should be carried out in concert with deepening and enriching family relationships.”
Parents, it is time to stop outsourcing our children’s spiritual growth to the church.
Pastors, it is time to learn that our role in discipline and nurturing the next generation is in inspiring, training and equipping parents.
The church-home partnership is crucial for our children’s holistic development, but neither should overstep the other’s boundaries.
We pray that the heart and mind of the young man who has been detained would be open to receive the guidance of the earthly and spiritual authorities in his life, and that the Holy Spirit would do His work of a true heart transformation, so that this boy can be a true witness for Christ after his release and re-integration back into society.
We pray, too, for his family and friends, that rather than feel the weight of condemnation, that they would likewise seek the Lord on behalf of this young man, and in doing so, find the peace and assurance that they need for this season.
Let us continue to work together to help parents undertake the awesome and great responsibility of training up their children in their way they should go, so that in due time, they will reap the promise – “when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 6:22)
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