Greetings once again! We are meeting this year to celebrate our home and Family week in such a time as this. A time when the whole world is facing a crisis of the COVID 19 pandemic which has seen schools, colleges and businesses closed, be that as it may we need to meet and celebrate the presence of God in our families, celebrating how God has kept us and led us this far. Friends let us take this time as a time to celebrate our love and hope in Christ. May we rise above every circumstance in the understanding that our help comes from God. May God bless us all.
I thank you
Day 1 The family that prays and stays together.
Day 2 Parents and Children.
Day 3 Families and sexual violence against children.
Day 4 Developing a healthy family.
Day 5 Managing catastrophic events and other devastating circumstances.
Day 6 Managing anger in families.
THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS AND STAYS TOGETHER
READING: 1 TIMOTHY 5 V1-16
Every age group is catered for and helped to find appropriate ways to praise God as a family. This kind of service can be an opportunity for all families to learn from each other’s understanding of God. It also stands as a weekly reminder that the church itself is a family. Regardless of whether you are single, widow, married, divorced, single parent with or without children, younger or older you all belong to a family and have a right to celebrate family week.
All human life is in 1 Timothy 5 v1-16, older and younger men, mothers and sisters, widows, children and parents, grandchildren and grandparents. Two great principles stand together in this chapter. One is the responsibility of human family life. If anyone does not care for his own and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Tim 5v8). Every member of the family has an important place in his or her home. Through the scriptures the Lord has explained how parents and children should behave and feel toward one another.
In the shared responsibilities of parenthood fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. They should work together to provide for the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the family. Some responsibilities must be shared by the husband and the wife. Parents should teach their children to pray and to obey the Lord’s commandments. Children share with their parents the responsibilities of building a happy home. They should obey the commandments and co-operate with other family members. Children should not quarrel with each other. The Lord has commanded children to honour their parents according to Exodus 20v12. To honour parents means to love, obey and respect them. (Ephesians 6v1). Some children are disobedient, stubborn, and mischievous and have no respect for their parents thus bringing shame to the family. Children should also learn to work and share responsibilities in the home. They should be given tasks to keep the home neat and clean, thus empowering them to be responsible citizens.
The other principle is that the church should function as a family. In the family of the church each person should gain strength from others. In most of our congregations there are lonely or neglected people who wince when they hear the word “family” (bereaved people, single men and women, those who are divorced or separated, young people and orphans who struggle with family relationships). We need to make sure that our church life includes them all and that our idea of family reaches out to everyone and draw them in.
• What can each member of the family do to make home a happy place?
• What are some traditions and practices that can make a happy family?
PARENTS AND CHILDREN
READINGS: EPHESIANS 6v4 COLOSSIANS 32v1 GENESIS 18v19
It is the solemn obligation of parents to give their children the instruction and correction that belong to a Christian upbringing. Parents should be examples of Christian life and conduct, caring more for their children’s salvation than for jobs, professions, ministry in the church or social standing (Psalm 127v3)
According to Paul’s word in Ephesians 6v4 & Colossians 3 v21 as well as God’s instruction in many O T passages (e.g. Genesis 18 19), it is the responsibility of parents to give their children the upbringing that prepares them for lives pleasing to God. It is the family not the church or mission school that is primarily responsible for the biblical training of the children. Church and mission schools can only assist and affirm parental training in bringing up their children. Parents should show no favouritism, encourage as well as correct, punish only defiance or intentional wrong doing and dedicate their lives in love to their children with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience (Colossians 3v12-14, 21)
Here are the 10 steps that parents can take to lead their children to lives of godliness.
• Dedicate your children to God at the beginning of their lives (1 Samuel 1v28, Luke 2v22)
• Teach your children to fear the Lord (Hebrews 1v9)
• Teach your children to obey you (Deuteronomy 8v5)
• Protect them from ungodly influences (Proverbs 13 v20)
• Make your children aware that God is always observing and evaluating what they do, think and say (Psalm 139v1-12)
• Do all you can to help your children come early in life to personal faith, repentance and baptism (Matthew 19v 14)
• Establish your children in a spiritual Church (Psalm 119v63)
• Encourage them to remain separated from the world (2 Corinthians 6v14 -7:1)
• Instruct your children in the importance of baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1v4-5)
• Let them know that God loves them (Luke 1 v 13-17
FAMILIES AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN
READINGS: GENISIS 34v1 -2, 2 SAMUEL 13 v14-15
Sexual abuse, rape and incest in Zimbabwe, as in most countries of the world, is very high. Sexual violence against children is also common in our county. It is the sole responsibility of families to protect their children and adolescents from sexual violence. Families should be empowered to raise voices against sexual violence in children. The church should challenge the social norms such as family values, cultures and belief systems that promote sexual violence, like the belief that there are certain things that cannot be said out. The church should create an open environment for congregates to speak about sexual violence against children. Violence issues should be given the urgency needed and not to turn a blind eye or give a deaf ear to such issues
Any child can be vulnerable to sexual violence this can happen to any child be it a boy or girl. Sexual violence has no gender or age boundaries, but girls are at a higher risk of sexual violence because of their biological set up. There are also mythical conceptions which make girls more vulnerable like “Ukarara nemhandara unopfuma kana kuti unorapwa HIV/AIDS”. Boys are also abused sexually, but they are not forth coming because of gender socialisation. There are sugar-mums and other men or boys who abuse the boy-child. The boy-child like the girl-child should be empowered to come out in the open and not to suffer in silence. We must encourage our children to report any forms of sexual violence as soon as possible. The police have a Domestic Violence unit staffed by officers who have special training in this area. Reports also may be made to ‘Child Line’ on toll-free phone number 116.
Negative effects of sexual violence
• Poor concentration
• Behavioural changes
• Risky behaviour
Characteristics of sexual violence in Children
• Child to child abuse – children who are experiencing adolescence may abuse other children.
• Adults against Children
• Incest – fathers abusing daughters, siblings, relatives
• Adolescents are vulnerable because in their relationship they may experience sexual violence. They may get exposed to sexual violence in the concept of dating
Non- Contact Sexual Violence, there is no physical interaction
• Posting nude pictures
• Showing or exposing genital parts to children
• With the coming on of technology there is lot of online sexual abuse
How to protect our children from sexual violence?
• Empower them to fight for themselves.
• Teach them to dress well and not to expose their bodies.
• Discourage our adolescents from being found in compromising places with their partners.
• Listen to what they are saying.
• Be careful on how our children interact on their phones.
• Be mindful and careful that our children are not lured by technology, because our children are more technical than we are and very advanced. They are far ahead of their parents. They abuse social media and they are easily exposed sexually. Guide them and give them the necessary advice. “Information is power “
• Children and adolescents should be given the confidence to refuse to be manipulated by power hungry, corrupt people.
• Encourage children to reject bribes and threats and report any destructive behaviour to respected authorities.
DEVELOPING A HEALTHY FAMILY
Developing a healthy family is among the most challenging tasks human beings can undertake. Even when people really intend to develop healthy relationships in their families, it is still challenging because we are human and every human being is imperfect (Romans 3v10). Our failings make it very difficult to sustain healthy, harmonious and loving relationships. At home, with our families, we can learn to love to share, to serve one another and to manage conflict in a timely manner. Connected family members are committed to being patient, kind understanding and forgiving. While this kind of commitment is not easy, it is worth, while and will contribute to the happiness, health and quality of life of every family who puts it into practice
One of the important dynamics in healthy families is the quality of their communication. Communication means a willingness to be open, to share ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions, to understand and to be understood, to accept and be accepted, to encourage and to be encouraged, to give and receive love. (David 1997:6)
Family specialists often say that the quality of relationships within a family depends on the quality of their communications. Healthy communication is the primary skill needed for maintaining a strong health family. The quality of your family life will have much to do with the way you communicate. Families whose members speak with each other in a regular and loving way experience a level of closeness that families who rarely or unkindly communicate with each other can never achieve.
Proverbs 16v24 says; pleasant words are a honey comb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Take time to consider the impact of the following words in developing a healthy family:
• Thank you
• I love you
• I am sorry
• You are so special
• Well done
• You are the best
• Stay blessed
• I miss you
• Happy birthday
• I am praying for you
• God bless you
Kind words bring life, therefore, determine to use them more often. It takes determination to build a great family. Make the commitment to communicate well and watch your family blossom and grow healthy.
Do you think you are making progress in your quest to develop a healthy family or are you feeling frustrated, irritated and more helpless as time passes?
MANAGING CATASTROPHIC EVENTS AND OTHER DEVASTATING CIRCUMSTANCES
READING JOB 1v13-22
Often, times of crisis are times of discovery. They are periods when we cannot maintain our old ways of doing things and we enter into a steep learning curve. Sometimes it takes a crisis to initiate growth.
Catastrophic events are public disasters such as Cyclone Hurricane, floods, tornadoes and other natural calamities, as well as deliberate acts of other humans causing widespread destruction such as veld fires, acts of terror and war. Whereas devastating events or circumstance are unexpected, sudden or terminal illness of self of loved ones or the death of family member are also catastrophic for the family concerned. As a nation we have gone through a lot of catastrophic events. The devastating Cyclone Idai struck Chimanimani and Binga claiming hundreds of lives and left thousands of people homeless. At present the country is suffering from the Covid 19 pandemic which is life threatening and has disrupted our lives in unexpected ways. As the stories of families who survived the floods began to unfold, we were reminded that as the church we are not immune to the ravages and trauma of unforeseen events and the difficult task of managing our lives in their aftermath
In a country faced with such calamities, we may well ask what managing catastrophic events such as Covid 19 means. The term ‘manage’ is a vital action word that refers to our ability to cope with and survive the stormy blast of difficult circumstances and events that threaten our well-being.
These events typically result in large scale of human suffering and damage to persons and possessions. There are times when we are hopeless in the presence of life threatening situations but we can find our comfort in Jesus Christ. The Bible can help families to find comfort even in the darkest times. In the words of Psalm 94:19 the psalmist said to God, ‘When anxieties overwhelmed me you comforted and soothed me’.
Building resilience can be considered as one of the principles to help families manage catastrophic events and other devastating circumstances. We may have no choice but to endure a persistent trial. Some become overwhelmed with discouragement, which may only make matter worse. “If you become discouraged in the day of distress, your strength will be meagre (Proverbs 24v10). Job reacted to the disaster that happened to him with intense grief but also with a humility that submitted to God and continued to worship Him in the midst of extreme suffering (Job 1v20-21).
To deal with catastrophes and other devastating circumstances effectively, the following should be considered.
• Widespread awareness of the problems, their causes and effects and how to deal with them.
• We should remember that God cares about us even in our time of suffering. (Romans 8v35-39)
• Consider the various reasons human beings suffer and how those reasons apply to you and your family.
• Read the Word of God, especially those psalms that give comfort in times of afflictions.
• Seek revelation and discernment from God regarding your particular situation. Through prayer, scripture, the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit or the counsel of godly mature believers.
• Recall a time you or your family faced a catastrophic event or a devastating circumstance
• How did you respond to devastating circumstances that befell you?
MANAGING ANGER IN FAMILIES
READINGS: ISAIAH 43v18 ,PSALMS 37v8
Anger is a negative emotion and a negative attitude that delights itself in arguments frustration and irrational behaviours. Anger is often triggered by a feeling of being unfairly or badly treated. The devil loves the spirit of anger as his favourite attack on us, because it has the capacity to enter anyone’s nervous system regardless of being rich or poor young or old. Some people may refuse to lie, steal, fornicate or refuse many things but when brought under irritation, anger can use them to sin. It is the worst of all demons which brings destruction to families.
An angry person stirs up a fight and a hot-tempered one commits many sins (Proverb 29 v22). A fight causing pain and destruction is all that anger can see as a solution to injustice. Hot tempers forbid new opinions, new thoughts and new ideas. There is no glory in anger but shame and curses. It causes emotional wounds and pain of the heart. Families that do not control their anger suffer poverty. They often lack friends and relationships are destroyed. However, in close relationships anger cannot be totally avoided but God says; ”In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4 v26-27). In this text, Paul is fully aware that the spirit of anger makes it very difficult for a person to pray. It kills and destroys prayer life and drives away peace creating strife in families. We are therefore warned not to give the devil a chance in our families by getting angry unnecessarily and keeping grudges against one another. Anger steals away love, harmony, peace and kills the good life in a family. An angry father hurts the love of the family and a mother’s anger is destructive in the home. If any child is hurt emotionally and gets angry with his or her parents, he or she is allowing anger to take control and needs to repent and apologise. Good sense makes one slow to anger and it is a glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11). James 1:19-20 says; ”Know this my beloved brothers let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak , slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
When offended ask God to grant you the grace to be humble and the grace of a forgiving heart. Ask the Lord to hold your tongue and emotions when you are tempted to be angry. Families infested with the spirit of anger suffer from many kinds of sickness and diseases all the time. Anger is a poison in the body, it disturbs the smooth flow of blood to all parts of the body.
• Anger weakens the liver
• Grief weakens the lungs
• worry weakens the stomach
• stress weakens the heart and brain
• fear weakens the kidneys
Trace your body pain and assess what causes your pain
• How do you respond when you are offended or irritated?
• How many times do you get angry in a week?
• Do you ask for forgiveness after expressing your anger?
READING PSALMS 133v1-3
This year, Home and Family Week is in December and there are many Christmas festivities going on. Plan to have a special celebration for families. Those who live in towns may think of holding a church-based Christmas celebration before going out to your rural homes to spend Christmas with your relatives there. -HAVE TIME TO SHARE, LAUGH AND PRAY TOGETHER AS FAMILIES.