The author of this excellent article in both of its parts, William M. Brown, lives in Hollywood, Florida, where he enjoys the fellowship of the assembly. He has served the Lord fully for 25 years, and has a very deep interest in the work of the Lord among children.
The question now before us from part one is, “What is the Christian’s responsibility in the matter of training tomorrow’s citizens to meet the threat of Communism, immorality, crime, violence?”
Often the question is asked by a distressed parent, “What can I do with my 14 year old son? I have no control over him.” The answer is very likely, it is too late, such care should begin at birth or even before. In Judges 13, God told. Manaoh and his wife that a son would be born to them and they began to ask, “How shall we order the child and how shall we do unto him?” They wanted the man of God to teach them something about child-training.
The Scripture is very clear on the subject of child-training. “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). This has to do with his character or character building. If it is to be for good, the training must be based upon the principles of the Word of God. The Bible is neglected in many homes today, even in Christian homes.
The apostle Paul has a special word for FATHERS. “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This word ‘nurture’ means Christian discipline that regulates character. The word ‘admonition’ means teaching by the Word of God. Many fathers today shirk this responsibility! They claim their duty is to provide the necessities of life; that it is the mother’s obligation to train the children. Thank God for those mothers who take over when and where the fathers neglect this command. All fathers who are thus guilty will be held accountable to God with the possibility of present judgment.
Many of us today can thank God for fathers who conducted family devotions around the dinner table. Such a custom grows rarer today when the need is greater than ever since Bible reading is forbidden in the schools. A clipping from a newspaper reports, “It is illegal to read the Bible in the public schools, but a law requires the State of New York to provide a Bible for every inmate in prison. The force of the story would seem to be: Don’t worry, kids, if you can’t read the Bible in school, you will have the opportunity to do so when you get to prison.” But why wait until they get to prison, lets train the children at home.
Secondly, in addition to training at home, the Sunday School provides a good Christian opportunity. Here there is regular, consistent and graded teaching of the Word of God. This is a blessing for those whose parents neglect the Bible in the home. But it is so limited — only thirty minutes a week devoted to Bible instruction, yet God has wonderfully honored Sunday School work.
Many parents do not appreciate the value of Sunday School. Many do not make any effort to see that their children attend. Others prevent their children from attending. Some may consent to their children attending, but they do not go themselves and set a poor example. Example teaches a forceful lesson and parents who attend with their children will encourage regular attendance even when they are older. A sign on a Sunday School building reads, “Don’t SEND your children to Sunday School: BRING them with YOU.”
Mr. J. Edgar Hoover remarked once, “A child brought up in Sunday School is seldom ever brought up in court.” Judge Fawcett of Brooklyn, N. Y. said that out of 2,700 boys brought before his court, not one of them was a Sunday School pupil. The following are the words of a western judge when a sixteen year old girl was brought before him: “Why didn’t the parents of this girl keep her in Sunday School? Sunday School pupils do not come to see me.”
The Sunday School is important because the Bible is the Text Book of this institution. The late Woodrow Wilson once said, “There can be no liberal education without a knowledge of the Bible.” It is important because it trains a child in the formative years of its life. This is when destinies are often settled. A person rarely ever changes his habits after he has reached his majority. Only one person out of a thousand is converted after the age of twenty. A questionaire was sent out to 1,500 preachers asking them the age at which they were converted to God. The average age was twelve years.
Children provide the most fruitful field for evangelism today. Thank God for each assembly that includes programs for reaching children in its general activities, plus a few special efforts such as Bible Camp, DVBS and children’s crusades, to name a few. Let us not be guilty of hindering these little ones from coming to Christ because we think they are too young. Only God knows when a child is old enough to understand and to be saved. Some Christian workers are proud and quick to announce when an adult professes to be saved but reticent when children profess. A church in Scotland went through a whole year with only one profession, a lad in Sunday School. At the annual meeting it was reported that relative to conversion during the year there were “none except wee Bobby and he’s so small he’s not worth counting.” But wee Bobby became Robert Moffat, the flaming torch that illuminated the night of Africa and blazed the trail for the great David Livingston, his son-in-law.
Mary Slessor of Calabar, the greatest woman missionary of her generation, was won to Christ as a girl. Suppose Paul had been converted at seventy instead of twenty-five! There would have been no Paul in history. There was a Matthew Henry because he was converted at eleven and not at seventy. A Jonathan Edwards because he was saved at eight and not at eighty; A Richard Baxter because he was saved at six and not at sixty.
Recognizing the importance of reaching children for God, assemblies should be deeply exercised to evangelize youth in special campaigns. Many preachers bemoan the lack of interest among unsaved adults today. Try a series of children’s meetings and be thrilled with the results. For many years the writer has spent the greater part of his time in evangelism among children. Rarely has a series gone by without a number of conversions.