“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” Prov 22:6
Recently, I went to the church my parents have attended all their lives. The same church I was dedicated as a baby and raised as an infant till I grew up and went away to university. It is an old orthodox church founded by the United Missionary Church of Africa so many years ago and it is still alive and vibrant and thriving till today. They have a huge congregation and have a membership base ranging from infants to the elderly. Their fellowships include ones for children, teenagers, singles, young adults, new couples, old couples, ladies, men, pregnant women etc. It is a church where they still preach in that old, stodgy way we pentecostal, charismatic and new apostolic young Christians like to disparage. We have forgotten “Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set” Prov 22:28 and we have also forgotten the fact that most of us were raised in this faithfully steady orthodox churches. Many of us even gave our lives to Christ there.
It was a very nostalgic service for me that day. I saw many of my parents’ friends and church members. I saw old friends and age mates who had stayed back in the church; I saw old Sunday school teachers and former pastors. As I sat in the auditorium, my mind went back many years to when I was a kid in one of the numerous children classes behind the main church. I remembered reciting –
“A for Abraham, the father of faith; B for Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob; C for Caleb, one of the two to enter Canaan” etc.
I remembered learning all those bible stories through songs and plays. Many times, my Sunday school teacher, a dear lady who has gone to be with the Lord now, would have us read certain bible stories as homework and then tell the story to the class the following Sunday. That was when my storytelling ability developed. I always won the storytelling prize.
I remember when I grew up and moved to the teen classes and how we use to sneak into the main church because we believed we were already adults and should be there. How the ushers would chase us back to our own class and we would sulk and pout there and generally give our Sunday teachers a tough sullen time but they never gave up teaching us.
And finally when I turned eighteen and was then eligible to sit in church with the adults, only to leave and go off to university a few weeks later. That wasn’t fair!
As my mind wandered in church that day, I suddenly realized that this old church and my family gave me the solid foundation to be who I am today!
I derailed badly in my university days. I left all I had been taught and went my own way but even in all that, something in my heart and spirit was uneasy. I knew I was doing wrong and I hid that part of me from my parents. Why? – Because I had been raised on God’s foundation and I knew right from wrong!
God’s word never fails. When He tells you to raise a child in the path he should go and that in the future when the child is all grown up, he or she will not depart from it, it is a FACT! I am a living testimony of that. That foundation drew me back from the brink of destruction and set me on the path of life. That foundation is what I am still building on today!
Yes, those orthodox churches might bore us and may seem backward because they don’t have demon chasing, miracle working and motivational firebrand preachers like our modern churches but all through the years they have stayed committed and faithful to God’s commission – laying a solid foundation for millions and raising people in “the ancient landmarks of our fathers”.
And you know the funny thing? I will love my children to be raised in that way!