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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Doing Theology with vulnerable children

Written by: on November 30, 2018

My world revolves around working with children from vulnerable communities and it always amazes me the possibilities these children open up for their families and their local communities. One of the greatest concerns for every family is the welfare of their children. They work hard to feed, clothe, educate, and facilitate for their children to be independent and self-reliant and they will do anything to accomplish this. Families are judged as successful or failures by how well or poorly they are able to accomplish this task. This is the standard across the world regardless of culture or financial status. For people living in poverty, this is not easy and there are many factors that make them fail. Most of the children coming from such communities end up failing in life and they are forced to join crime and other anti-social activities for survival for lack of alternatives. In the process of serving in these communities, God has helped us to learn that intervening in the lives of these children opens up multiple possibilities of influencing their families and communities with the Gospel. As we recruit children into our formal Christian schools and develop them holistically, they not only give us a direct link to holistically empower their families and other local community members but they become missionary agents to their peers in their community. Luis Bush, a Christian missionary strategist says, [1]children are targeted because they’re the “most receptive but also because they are the most effective agents for mission” to evangelize their peer group. There is a growing interest in children targeting strategy due to the success of the ministries that have prioritized children evangelization. [2]Groups supporting the evangelization initiative have argued that it is crucial that mission efforts be reprioritized and redirected towards the 4/14 age group worldwide.

As I read the book by [3]Grenz and Olson, the first thought was about these children that we are ministering to at the most strategic age of influence. How can I and my co-workers in Christ effectively introduce these children to God, to know Him whom to know is eternal life[4]. As I read the book, I realized that constructing Theology in the context of the children is what is applicable. These children have been told so many things about God and are trying to make sense of who He truly is. We have a great opportunity to apply [5]contextually constructive theology by putting together all their different ideas into one and introduce them to God in a way that they understand as children, living in the vulnerable communities. These children have so many disconnected ideas of who God is from different sources at home, experiences in their community, the media, and other sources. Contextual theology, also known as enculturation is seen as the way the church in every age tries to adapt its teachings to the culture it finds itself in. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 4-7 finds himself tackling the issue of dressing because of the cultural context that he is ministering in. These children from vulnerable communities have unique experiences and the best way for them to know God is through their cultural setting.

As we minister to these children, our main objective is to empower the whole family holistically through our four pillars approach of: Redeeming through the Gospel as we plant churches; Educating the future generation through quality Christian education; Economically empowering the families through business training, vocational skills training and business incubation; Restoring through both preventive health education and curative services. In my dissertation, I have chosen to concentrate on the economic empowerment component of our ministry model to research on How a renewed vision of a bible based financial literacy and economic empowerment model be applied in the Kenyan context. As I think about the children as the entry point into these communities, I realize that starting the children early with financial literacy can equip them to empower their families and transform their community. One of the biggest challenges within these vulnerable communities is the poor personal financial management and high business startup failures. The level of financial literacy is extremely low and may be the main course of these problems. Borrowing from the [6]mathematical analogy of numbers 1/2, 1/3, 1/10, 1/15 that seems to have nothing in common but through finding a common denominator, 15/30, 10/30, 3/30, 2/30 helps to add them together to get a whole number. They have ideas about finances that they ordinarily may not be able to put together to a wholesome understanding of sound financial solutions. I see the application of the contextually constructive theology in teaching sound bible based financial solutions to the children and eventually to their families and other community members. The situation is made worse by widespread folk theology practice that has led to the spreading of popular clichés and legends in form of prosperity Gospel and other wrong teachings. The bible provides the solutions which can be conveyed to these vulnerable communities through sound theology. As they know God, they will be able to understand their agency relationship to God concerning their finances. God is the source of their finances and He has clear principles of financial management that are in the bible. These principles can very effectively be communicated to the children through the contextually constructive theology.

[1] Luis Bush (June 18, 2013). “4/14 Window – A Golden age of opportunity” (PDF) 4/14 movement. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 14, 2013.

 

[2] Luis Bush (June 18, 2013). “Raising up a new Generation from the 4/14 window to transform the world” (PDF) 4/14 movement. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 14, 2013.

[3] Stanley J. Grenz & Roger E. Oslon. Who Needs Theology?. An Invitation to the Study of God. InterVasity Press, Illinois, USA.

[4] Bible. John 17:3

[5] Stanley J. Grenz & Roger E. Oslon. Who Needs Theology?. An Invitation to the Study of God. InterVasity Press, Illinois, USA. Page 106.

[6] Stanley J. Grenz & Roger E. Oslon. Who Needs Theology?. An Invitation to the Study of God. InterVasity Press, Illinois, USA. P 78; 104

About the Author

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Wallace Kamau

Wallace is a believer in Christ, Married to Mary Kamau (Founder and Executive Director of Missions of Hope International) and father to 3 Wonderful children, Imani Kamau (Graduate student at London School of Economics, UK), Victory Kamau (Undergraduate student at Portland state University, Oregon, USA) and David Kamau ( Grade student at Rosslyn Academy). Founder and Director, Missions of Hope International (www.mohiafrica.org), CPA, BAchelor of Commerce (Accounting) from University of Nairobi, Masters of Arts (Leadership) from Pan African Christian University.

6 responses to “Doing Theology with vulnerable children”

  1. mm Mary Mims says:

    Wallace, I love your post and how you believe you need to focus theology on children ages 4-14. Your approach to helping the children in all areas of their lives is an idea I also had years ago. You are also correct that Folk theology is very popular among the poor and disadvantaged, who would rather believe in giving to get instead of managing their income. It will be exciting to see you teach Biblical theology to your people and see a much-needed change.

  2. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Wallace,
    I love your passion and calling to contextualize the Gospel for the 4-14 aged window. My wife was a children’s pastor during our senior pastorates and would echo your passion and perspective. You have presented a need to constructively contextualize good theology for a younger demographic. In so doing, you are impacting theirs, their families, and their communities lives. This is a brilliant post which reminds us good theology is needed to reach and influence all people. Thank you so much for reminding me of this. Take care, H

  3. You’re welcome Mary and Harry, I trust God to reach even more vulnerable children and their families for the glory of God.

  4. mm Sean Dean says:

    Wallace, the work you are doing is so important. I love how holistic the model is, in that it not only focuses on the spiritual well being of the children and their families, but also their health and economic well being. This is a tremendous ministry. Good on you and your cohorts.

  5. mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

    Hi Wallace. You are correct in that one of the greatest concerns for every family is the welfare of their children. You noted that ‘your world revolves around working with children from vulnerable communities,’ which is an amazing gift that you share with the world. Children are truly our future, so instilling theology within them to help them truly understand God’s calling on their lives is critical as they make life choices. Thank you for blessing the children and their families through your work, Wallace. You are an inspiration!

  6. mm Jenn Burnett says:

    Having spent considerable time doing children’s ministry over the years, I learned to ask myself the question: “Will what I’m teaching this child hold true over the years?” So often we fail to take children seriously and teach them things that need to be corrected as they age. How do you evaluate how you present theological concepts to the kids? Do you have an outline of what you introduce at what age or are there more general concepts you’d like them to learn by age 14? Love what you are up to Wallace!

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