The other day I was picking up my university age daughter from Winnipeg’s downtown after an evening class. We don’t really like her walking by herself to the bus in the dark inner city streets. While I am waiting in the car, I see two children going down the street unsupervised after 10 PM. They were maybe 4 and 7 years old. It was a heartbreaking sight as I imagined what the future held for these still innocent little lives. What are their chances of NOT being victims of the cycle of sexual abuse, drugs, alcohol, violence and teenage prostitution? Not very good. Then I felt anger towards the parents. Where were they? I actually have a pretty good idea where.
The devil’s proven approach has always been to take the youngest. Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Matt 2:16
It’s a simple strategy; target the youngest while they are most defenseless and you determine what future (if any) they have. Hitler established his Hitler Youth Movement in 1922 as a paramilitary arm of the Nazi party. Weapons training was given to children sometimes as young as 10 years old. By 1936 there were 5 million members. Hitler’s murderous march across Europe could never have happened without having first captured the impressionable minds of an entire generation while they were still youth.
Youth today are still Satan’s primary target. Music about sex, violence and suicide fill their Ipods. Peer pressure to pierce, tattoo and lose one’s virginity are at extraordinary levels. And many parents are frankly just clued out. “I have no idea what Jimmy does on the Internet all night long?” Well, why don’t you find out Mommy-head in-the-sand!
Like my observation of the kids on the streets at night…it is a parental issue. Parents need to engage their children in meaningful conversation through every stage of development. If we miss even a few years because we are distracted climbing the corporate ladder or being preoccupied by our own self-actualization we chance putting our own children at risk. No one is immune from the danger. Before there was a Billy Graham there was a preacher named Billy Sunday. At the end of his life he said, “My greatest regret is that I won thousands to Christ but lost my own children.” He blew it! Our first and greatest responsibility is always our children.
Our children are now all single young adults. We engage them in conversation regarding dating, marriage, pre-marital sex, youth culture, music, the risks of drugs and alcohol. Far from tuning us out, they tune in. They are no less curious than anyone else and want to talk about it. They are liberated from the peer pressure by being able to process it with people who have been there as well, albeit in a less complex age.
A couple of years ago we decided we as a church were going to be more intentional with reaching the next generation. We launched a church-wide initiative we call The Amazing Journey. It is more about equipping parents to reach their children then us reaching them. We do father/son, mother/daughter, father/daughter and mother/son events. We bring in some of the best known speakers on parenting from Focus on the Family and other groups. We invested 1.5 million dollars to expand our Youth and Childrens’ ministry facility. Our children’s ministry called KidzRock is the biggest in all of Canada.
We are now partnering with inner city ministries to reach the 10’s of 1000’s of at risk children in Winnipeg’s core. If the strategy to take the youngest works for the Devil, it only makes sense to do the same and reach them first for God. We are determined not to lose this generation to the world. We cannot do it alone as a church, we need the parents of our nation to join us in this Amazing Journey. How about you Mom? Dad? Are you in or are you out?