Our most important 'mission field'
All parents reading this will recognise this: the desire that our Lord Jesus Christ will also be the personal Lord and Saviour of our children! That their lives will bear fruit to His glory! Everyone also knows that this will not automatically be the case. Let me share a little bit how we, here in Togo, aim to pass on to our children, the faith we ourselves also received.
First, of course, I have to start with the need for Neline and Niek to be able to eat daily of the spiritual fruits that our own lives produce! That is where we ask your prayers for in the first place! That every day, through everything we do and say and through all our habits, we may communicate this to them: that we ourselves love the Lord Jesus with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our strength!
Neline and Niek do not often attend Sunday school before the sunday services at church. Much of sunday school is in Ewe, and the experience is that lessons are not often fully translated into French when Neline and Niek attend, which makes it difficult for them to follow the lessons. The good Dutch habit of reading the Bible together after every meal is also something that doesn't work here in our half-Togolese family! We almost never have a meal all together at once as a family.
So what do we do to make the Bible central to everything we do here in the family?
First of all, we all read from the Bible for ourselves in the mornings. We are working on making this a non-negotiable habit for Neline and Niek also! We have a daily devotional book for them with Bible passages and explanations. But what makes this difficult in practice is that they have to go to school as early as 7 o'clock in the morning. Going to bed earlier so they wake up in time to read does not always happen...During the summer break this becomes much easier.
Every evening we read do family worship together....often outside on the terrace and we take our time for this! When Alexandre is at home, obviously the four of us together, but since Alex is not at home at least 5 evenings a week, we are often with the three of us. We first pray for the Lord to help us concentrate (very necessary ;-) and ask for the help of His Spirit! The last thing we want is for Bible knowledge to merely 'coat' their lives with some sort of 'Christian sauce'. Or anything that will result in an outward obedience produced with their own efforts! No! It is the power of the Gospel which must transform them from the inside out....and in between our total inability to bring that about and God's faithful Covenant promises God places: PRAYER! So it is not out of superstition but pure necessity that we pray for the help and power of the Holy Spirit, each time before we start.
Then we spend the first 5 minutes memorising Scripture verses. My motivation for this came through this video....and I must say that they now know many Bible verses and portions by heart, by just doing this for 5 minutes every day. After memorising we read through Bible books, just reading a passage each day. We discuss verses, raise and answer questions and I try to teach important doctrines as we go along. If we do not know an answer.... we try to remember to ask Alex the next day....so that even if he often cannot be there he is involved! At the end we pray again.
Of course, we are grateful that in addition to what we share with them at home, we also get to be part of the Agbonou congregation. More on that in another post.