1st Oct 2012, by Mindy Oon, CM –
Families are important – it is where children learn and develop values. It is where children learn to model the behavior of parents and siblings. However, these days more often than not parents spend more time at work and are absent from children’s lives. Kids have a lack of good role model and end up modeling their personality and character after the latest MTV/movie star. The number of teen pregnancies is rising, children and teens are smoking, drinking and involved in gangsterism. And yes, it is sad to say that these apply to Christian children and teens as well.
With these issues heavy on his heart, it is not surprising that Alan Seow, together with his wife Sally find themselves drawn towards the “Youth and Family Ministry”. Having served for 10 years with Scripture Union, Seow is no stranger when it comes to dealing with parents and their children. Over the years he has realized that there is often a dis-connect between the different age groups in the churches that he has visited, and often times, there is little communication between family members.
What this ministry aims to do is to equip the parents to build strong family units. Strong marriages are encouraged by teaching effective communication, conflict resolution and forgiveness between spouses. Parents are trained to take on the role that God has given them, to see parenthood as a God given honor. Families are also encouraged to learn from each other, with the older generation passing on their experiences. According to Alan, “one of the simplest ways to start building a strong family is to train parents to have family altar. Families need to set aside time to pray, worship and do devotions together. Churches can even help families to get going by printing out booklets that help parents to lead prayer and devotions.”
By training and equipping and discipling parents, children will be able to see living examples of people who love God. Psalms 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart form it.’ These children will see genuine Christians living life God’s way, and hence, have models who take their relationship with God seriously. “Satan works overtime to destroy family units because a strong families would mean strong churches, which leads to strong communities and strong nations” said Alan.
Churches therefore need to have a paradigm shift and start taking intentional steps to build up strong family units. Intergenerational programs such camps that bring families together during sessions, ministering time and games instead of camps that segregate participants according to ages (adults, youth & children) need to be more common. Though it may be tough to cater for all the ages at the same time, it is not impossible for such programs to take place. Certainly, there are times when there is a need to teach separately, and this should not be overlooked.
Churches can also organize programs and activities such as marriage courses, parenting courses and seminars, husband-wife night out, father-son camps, father-daughter night, and mother-daughter outings etc to help build strong marriages and bridge the generation gap and improve communication between family members. Additionally, churches can encourage whole families to serve together in a ministry.
Alan and his wife are currently mentoring several families, equipping and counseling the parents to have strong marriages and strong family units. He hopes that these families will in turn impact other families.
Alan invites others who share the same vision and burden to come together to work towards building strong families. He can be reached through this email: firstname.lastname@example.org