Sunday, March 7, 2010

One Million Arrows (Teaching Kids to Change the World)

"Will the world change our children...or will our children change the world? Time is short and lives are at stake. Right now, God is inviting our families to become part of a bigger story—a vision that will engage hearts to make a radical difference. One Million Arrows is an inspirational call to raise our kids to impact their culture, community, and world for Christ." Julie Ferwerda from One Million Arrows

There is a battle scene in one of my favorite movies, Last of the Mohicans, in which the English are fighting with the local colonists. The English soldiers line up in parade-like formation, take slow aim and fire at their opponents. It's all very civilized.

But we know the outcome: Those rude, wild Americans fought in an uncouth style...sneaking around and shooting willy-nilly, ultimately sending the English Red Coats sailing back across the pond defeated.

As Christian parents, most of us have been raising our kids with a very clear and organized plan. We take them to church on Sundays, drop them off at AWANA, write an occassional check to the youth program and hope for the best. We say grace at mealtimes and share how God has blessed us around the Thanksgiving dinner table. It's all been prescribed and we're following our marching orders.

The problem is that our enemy doesn't fight by the same rules. He's sneaky and goes after our kids in random, surprising ways. We need a new battle plan in which we are prepared for attacks in unexpected places and our guns are blazing from every-which-way.

One Million Arrows (WinePress), by Julie Ferwerda, lays out the complacent path toward destruction we are traveling, bringing deep conviction. She offers stories and reliable statistics about how children are growing up, and growing away from the faith of their youth.

Inspiration for the book came from the vision of Dr. M.A. Thomas, a man known around the world as "Papa." During an extended visit to India, Ferwerda spent time with this humble man and grabbed his vision with both hands. His vision was to "Gather one million broken branches--the native-born, orphaned, and abandoned children--sharpen them with education, faith and a heart for The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and launch them like arrows back into all the regions of India that have never heard about Jesus...or the world."

The Enemy wishes nothing more than to coax our kids, if not into rebellion, into pursuing passionless, insignificant, and potentially empty lives. As long he he can hamstring them with apathy, he need not worry about them doing damage to his kingdom. But now, like Papa, we've been given the exciting opportunity to raise arrows--weapons of warfare. Our kids [and those we have influence over] have been put on this earth for great puropose and a mission. P 21-22 OMA

In OMA, Ferwerda doesn't stop at stomping on our hearts to reveal the damage we may have done or the opportunities we've missed. She doesn't leave us feeling sad and desperate. Through story after story of families who've been employing this philosophy, we are built back up and inspired with a game plan. Our children, their children and the future of God's good purposes are not lost because we can step back into the battle with new armor and fresh strategies. The message is clear: It's never too late.

I hope people with and without young children will read One Million Arrows. Each of us has a potential role to play in gathering, sharpening and launching the weapons God surrounds us with each day. Buy the book at Amazon. Give one to the parents you know. Give one to your pastor and children's ministry workers. (*All proceeds from OMA go to international orphan ministry) Use the resources on the website. This isn't just a book, it's our collective mission as Believers.

Share your thoughts, concerns and experiences about raising (and influencing) kids that will change the world. You'll automatically be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of the book. Check back for the winner at the bottom of the post on March 14. Contact me if it's you!
Diane Markins


Ally Johnson said...

Recently my 12 year old son said to me, "Mom, it's hard to be a Christian at school." We had an in depth discussion about what it was he thought was hard. He shared that he realizes that he's "different" because he doesn't swear or talk bad about people. By the time our discussion was over a few things were clear...the battle for his Christianity had already begun and he recognized that people are seeing God in him because of his differences. As Christians we are at war and our youth are not immune. Thank you for sharing this vision and I pray it touches the hearts of many!

Jeff and JIll Williams said...

Diane, this is an awesome book review, but as your friend, I know it is more. This is the passion of your heart for your own children, too.

We did all the right things; or at least we thought we did, but it hasn't guaranteed a smooth path or freedom from "distractions" in our children's lives. Yesterday we were taking them to Sunday School, and the biggest problem was a skinned knee. Today it's about sexual purity, academic diligence in their chosen fields, and courage to continue believing and proclaiming the truth of John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life..." in a culture demanding tolerance.

We thought that we'd somehow put our kids in a protective bubble beyond the enemy's reach, but free-will has led them off the path to distractions at times (like Christian at Vanity Fair in Pilgrim's Progress). Thankfully, their merciful Maker has germinated the training of their youth to hold sway against the tide that would like to carry them away to a spiritually inert and impotent life. Conversation amongs them (21, 19 and 15) in our living room the other day proved that. "Where'd they get their spunk and conviction, AND humility to say they were wrong and that they need to set their feet on the right path again?"

Keep writing you heart, sister. You are making a difference. Now, it's between me and Ally for a copy of the book?

blessings, Jeff


Teaching Smart Servanthood

Where should your kids give their time, money, energy and talents? Where are they most likely to learn and grow, and to help others do the same? Here are a few ways we can aid them in making these important decisions, and prepare them to handle tough situations on their own in the future:

1.Point them to Scripture. The Bible is the only place to get the comprehensive instructions every smart servant needs. No text is better for equipping us to do God’s work and showing us how to follow in his ways (II Timothy 3:16-17). Additional wisdom is also available for the asking (James 1:5).

2.Help them discover and develop their interests. Ask which organizations, groups or causes interest your child, and why. Research service organizations with them: Who do they help and how do they spend their donations? Visit local charities to see how they operate.

3.Encourage thoughtful decision-making. Allow kids to make smaller day-to-day decisions. This builds their confidence, and confident children, research shows, are less likely to be targets of predators.1 Ask kids what they know about the person or organization they want to help. The Bible tells us a tree is identified as good or bad by the type of fruit it produces (Matthew 12:33); the same can be said for groups and individuals.

4.Point to examples. Identify the characters in books or TV shows, and discuss the positive and negative decisions these people make. Ask children who their heroes are, and why. Introduce them to noted humanitarians and other positive role models in their church or community.

5.Learn about the job. Before — and during — your child's volunteer stint, learn what his responsibilities are and who he's working with. It may be wise to suggest group projects. If kids work alongside their families, friends, youth group or service club, they're less likely to find themselves in situations where someone can take advantage of their money or kindness.

Serving Safely
Just as we want our children to serve the world wisely, we also want them to develop a healthy sense of physical self-preservation.

We can help them remember that God knows their heart and is still proud of their efforts — as are we! Christ himself was sometimes shot down, but he never stopped reaching out or loving others.



*Here's an extra "GOLDEN" nugget for parents*

Bless your kids!

Want to start blessing your kids? Not sure how exactly to go about doing it? Try simply using this text from the Old Testament:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.
— Numbers 6:24-26

You can also bless your kids using passages from the New Testament, such as the ones listed below:

May God himself, the God of peace,
sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful
and He will do it.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
— Ephesians 3:17b-19

And this is my prayer:
that your love may abound more and more
in knowledge and depth of insight,
so that you may be able to discern what is best
and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ —
to the glory and praise of God.
— Philippians 1:9-11


Dawn Rutledge said...

Thank you for this poignant article. The reality is that we need to teach our kids how to be in the world, but not of the world. The best way to teach is to lead by example. Every time we swear at somebody we cut off in the car, mumble under our breath at the server who messed up our food, pass by an opportunity to serve somebody in need, etc. it teaches our child something about how they are to behave and interact with others. Scary thought, but it's true. It is imperative that we shine the light and that we obey the two greatest commandments and model them for our kids - to love God and love others. And, to stand in and for truth and love, regardless of the pressures to assimilate. When they see us not shrinking back, they will have the confidence to do the same when the storms of life come their way.

Anonymous said...

What a great post Diane! Deep in my heart, I experience the edges of hopelessness as I look at the current landscape in this nation - I think you know of what I speak. And yet, PAPA (the "BIG ONE") always has a plan. And just like the film "Last of the Mohicans", we know the ending. The battle may appear to be lost, but in the end - ultimate victory is ours when we stick to "the" plan.

As I read your post, I think of my grandchildren - especially the 2 still in grammar & middle school. Thank God they go or have gone to a parochial school where traditional moral values are taught daily. It may not be a religious tradition to which I adhere, but the message is clear. And yes, folks, I did use the word "traditional".

But I'm not one that feels led to beat folks - children & young adults, included - over the head with 'faith'. I believe we do more with how we live out our faith than our words can ever deliver. We will make mistakes since we don't give up our humanity as long as we walk this earth. But we can point young folks in the right direction - walk along with them until they have internalized the message - and then allow them to fly on their own. Fly with the firm belief that even when they stray; they will always find their way back 'home'.
Linda F., Ohio