“Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” Proverbs 27:8
When I was about 12 I remember feeling a desire for independence from family for the first time. Sometimes this longing expressed itself in a good way and sometimes it was selfish, ungrateful and even arrogant. Despite my wanderings, my parents never gave up on me. They knew I was still a child in many ways and maintained at atmosphere of unconditional love grounded in Christian faith.
Children have the same basic needs no matter where they come from. They need love, direction, and security. The list of needs is a long one but those are the basics. These concepts are met within a framework we call “family.” God established this framework when he blessed Adam and Eve with children. (Genesis 4:1) It is not until the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus 26 that we see God establishing another spiritual framework outside of family. Until then the “priest” of the family—if you will—was in the home. To this day, even in the New Testament church the primary responsibility for spiritual development of children is given to parents. (Eph. 6:4)
This is critical to remember when we talk about ministry to children and families. As the Church, as pastors we are to be supplementary to parental spiritual authority not replacements to the same.
Too often, however, solutions to the needs of children are sought outside of the family structure. Sometimes this is well intentioned and motivated by Christian love; other times it is nothing more than social engineering. A recent article in a national Kenyan newspaper made allegations that often the motivation is even greed and malice. The article alleges that many orphanages in Kenya are nothing more than money pits for someone’s personal bank account, some even engaging in child trafficking.
Kenya is to strengthen the existing structures so that families and church can continue independently. We believe this is not only good missiology but also honors the dignity, self determination and faith of the individual. Long gone are the ideals of the 19th Century where a white missionary decides for the local people what their needs are and then proceeds to give it to them whether they want it or not.
Capstone Ministries was founded on the Biblical principles of family. We believe that family—immediate and extended—is the best place for a child to grow and develop. We also believe that our missionary role in
The title of this piece is “Whose is the street child?” not “Who is the street child?” It is framed that way intentionally. It is important to acknowledge that a child belongs somewhere and to someone. Often the assumption is drawn that a street child has no one. A recent local website stated that the vast majority of street children are orphans. The statement is made to encourage donors to give money to build an orphanage. But the statement is misleading. In the African context, no child is an orphan. In fact, if you ask rural people they will tell you that from the village perspective a child belongs to a community or clan even if his immediate family has died. In other words, there are no “real” orphans. They all belong somewhere. In addition, in a recent survey of the 200 children Capstone has reconciled with family we discovered some interesting facts. Only 16% had no living parent, 38% had one living parent and 56% had both surviving parents.
To be sure, in all our cases, there are problems in those homes. That is why the child is on the street. The fact there are problems in a family does not justify replacing the family. Rather, it should motivate Christian ministry to that family. That is what Capstone does. Every week, the families of restored children are ministered to. Bible studies with groups of parents are organized. To date Capstone has established 4 group bible studies and is working on a 5th group. Few things are more powerful than watching parents repent of their mistakes with their children and vowing to change.
The proverb above is especially powerful when it is remembered that Solomon was the product of a father who strayed from the nest. Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba. The work of Capstone Ministries is nest reconstruction.