Four Actions to Teach Our Children in Response to Evil

 

A Four Part Series by Jedd Medefind

Our nation is freshly torn by old wounds.  We grieve and grapple with the killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others … and with what has transpired since … and with all that it represents.

My own heart aches as well.  At the cruel and degrading death of a man, made in the image of God.  At the profound divisions in this country I love and the riots in its streets.  At the hurt and vulnerability so many dear brothers and sisters have felt all their lives.  At the way my own heart has so often been callous to this and to so much other pain besides.

 

I have family members both in law enforcement and of African descent.  So I find the “sides” we supposedly must choose between to be a false and destructive choice.  Americans can and must do both.  We can express immense gratitude for the men and women in uniform who risk their lives daily for our safety and confront the reality that some police use authority to pour out their resentments in both brutal violence and subtle degradations.  We can see America to be a nation of unique beauty and unparalleled opportunity and as a people who’ve often failed profoundly to live up to our highest ideals, including race-based evil.  We can honor our justice system as among the best in the world’s history and work vigorously to root out its failures.

 

Among many questions, parents wrestle with how to guide our children’s thoughts and feelings in this time.  Indeed, what our children hear in our words and see in our faces will teach them how to respond, whether we intend it or not.

This is not simple for any parent.  It also carries unique challenges for the many multi-racial families that are part of the CAFO community, including my own.  This is true whether it was marriage, foster care, adoption or another choice that welded bonds stronger than blood across lines of race, ethnicity and/or nationality.

How can we aid our children – of every race – in processing this moment?  How, ultimately, can we help them live well amidst all that it represents, not only now but also over decades to come?

 

In the four-part series ahead, with much debt to wisdom from wise and Christ-hearted members of the CAFO African American Leadership Council, we’ll briefly explore four concrete actions we can help our children take in response to evil – whether in the form of racism and other injustice…or in the myriad other expressions they will certainly encounter throughout their lives.

 

Lament.  To name and mourn the brokenness of our world.

 

Repent.  To name and turn from the sin in our own heart and life.

 

Ascent.  To name and turn toward the goodness and strength of God.

 

Advent.  To name and live into the coming of God’s kingdom, both now and yet to come.

 

I’ll be engaging each of these things with my family over the days ahead, and I invite you to join us.  And don’t forget:  to gift these things to our children, we must begin by doing them ourselves.

-Jedd Medefind

This series first appeared at www.cafo.org. © 2020 Christian Alliance for Orphans.

Part One: Lament

Christians sometimes fail to mourn evil, particularly when we’ve not felt its impact personally.  The Bible never does.

 

From start to finish, and especially in the Psalms, the Bible names and mourns all that is bent and broken in our world, from hidden thoughts of the human heart to the affairs of nations.

 

“How long, O Lord?”

 

“My God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

“Creation groans…and we groan inwardly…”

 

“Jesus wept.”

 

If we do not see evil, we do not see the world as it is.  And if we do not mourn with those who mourn, we fail to love them.

 

Yes, all around us are so many blessings, too.  This is the beauty God intended from the start, when He first spoke over all creation, “It is very good.”  But alongside these gifts are sorrows and wrongs beyond number.

These evils all begin in the human heart.  Greed.  Self-centeredness. Arrogance and superiority.  Lust.  Contempt. 

 

But things that live long in the heart never stay there.  They always grow upward and out, rising into actions.  Exploitation.  Adultery.  Racism.  Abuse.  Murder. 

 

Evil rarely stops there.  The sins of individuals eventually take shape in the communities people form, from small organizations to entire societies.  Systems marked by corruption.  Oppressive governments.  Cultures that give advantage to some and repress others.

 

One way this mushroom cloud of sin is expressed is racism, the mistreatment and diminishing of others because of their race or ethnicity.  All throughout history, racism has allowed otherwise decent people to feel okay about trampling the humanity of their neighbors.  It defined Jews’ view of Gentiles in Jesus’ day.  It infected the relationship of Ladinos and Mayans in Guatemala and of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.  It played a driving role in Europeans’ enslavement of Africans beginning in the 1500’s, and in slavery in North America before, during and long after the founding of the United States.   Even after slavery was brought to an end at the cost of more than 600,000 American lives, the tentacles of racism spread throughout the land in hearts and laws and institutions.  Both its presence and its consequences echo to this day, and we see and feel its vile effects afresh in the killing of George Floyd.

 

Certainly, racism is but one of evil’s many forms.  But whenever and wherever we observe it, we must treat racism for what it is:  an abominable sin that savages the beauty God intended in the marvelous variety of humankind.

Our first action as we confront this evil, or any evil, in our world is to name it and mourn it – to lament.  We do this before God first, laying before Him all that we feel, just as the Psalms.  And, when possible, we lament together – mourning with those who mourn.

 

Lament is the first action we must teach our children to ready them to confront evil, to prepare them for the world as it is.  To teach our children to lament, we must learn to lament ourselves.

To read:  Psalm 55:1-10 & 22-23

 

To explain:  Share with your children how God created all things good and beautiful, and yet sin has twisted all of creation.  Explain how God calls His people to lament this brokenness and pain, including “mourning with those who mourn.” 

 

To discuss:  Where do you see pain and evil in our world?  What do you think it means to lament these things?

 

To do:  Join together in a prayer to lament the pain and brokenness of our world, including the death of George Floyd.

 

For further exploration:  “Recovering Lament” – Workshop from CAFO2019; “Raising Black Children (in a Multi-Racial Family)” – Workshop from CAFO2019

This series first appeared at www.cafo.org. © 2020 Christian Alliance for Orphans.

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