An Evening with Kids – A Need for Human Investment

I went with my Church friends to the Star of Hope school in Houston to spend sometime with little kids studying there. We played with the kids, fed them and just interacted with them. My first impression of the place was surprising. I was filled with a sense of theological inadequacy. There were four kids on my table coloring a picture of Jesus talking with the kid giving 4 loaves and 2 fish. A 6 year old was asking questions about Jesus and even before I could think of what to say, another 6 year old and 7 year old started  to answer. They recited an entire thesis of who Jesus Christ is starting from Him being God to Him forgiving sins to Him taking us to Heaven. I realized that I, with my slow thinking mind, couldn’t have packed in so few words with, so much Truth, in such a short time. I had to pause, take a deep breath and tell myself, “Ok, Dude… Step Up!!! you are with a bunch of very smart people”. I can’t remember the last time I felt so theologically inadequate.

Looking back, this evening’s experience was marked by two noteworthy poignant observations. The first was with a 7 year old kid at my table. As I said, my table had really smart kids who were so conversant about many things that I had to step up to keep up. One of the smart ones 7 year olds, I’ll call Tom (fake name) asked me how his crayon coloring looked. I said it looked cute. Then he looked at me and said, “People will grown only when God wants them to grow”. I couldn’t understand why he said so. I was a little bit confused. My philosophical mind started wondering if Tom was trying to say something about the doctrine of Predestination. I looked at him. He said with sad eyes, “My Doctor told me that I will not grow big like everybody else”. I still remember how sad his eyes looked when he said that to me. Wanting to encourage him, I said that he will grow big. He replied, “No my Doctor says I will not”. When Tom got down from the chair, I could see that he was short for his age. When Tom’s mother came to pick him up, she seemed like a short lady too. Somehow, it was ingrained in Tom’s mind that, “God did not want him to grow”. I wanted to  dispel the ingrained idea. But I did not know how. Tom’s sad eyes remained in front of my eyes. The kid was very smart. I also think he has artistic talents. His coloring of the picture showed a lot of maturity for his age, from his choice of colors to his strokes. I wish SOMEONE would INVEST time with Tom to help him understand that life is complex and that being short isn’t something to be sad about, lest the sadness in his eyes should result in an indelible scar in his heart sapping him off his ability to live life to all its fullness as promised by the Saviour.

The second poignant moment was when when we were returning from playing some outdoor games with kids. The kids ENJOYED holding hands with some of us as we walked. Two girls who were 8ish were holding each of the hands of one of the ladies in our group. Just then one of the girls Tiffany (fake name) said, something like, “my socks is hurting me”. What the little girl said did not make sense to the lady whose hand she was holding or to me. The other girl immediately said, “Oh, she just wants someone to carry her in their arms”. What happened there was a classic case of ‘Transaction Exchange’ which the Psychologist Dr. Eric Berne talks about in his book, “Games People Play”. He says, the human beings seldom expose their deeper needs, they say one thing to get something else. People who know them personally, quickly assess their real need and respond to that. The other 8 year old knew the Tiffany enough to know her deeper need. Dr. Eric Berne says in the same book that people play such games so that they get ‘stroked’ emotionally and/or physically by other people. He goes on to say that the NEED for ‘stroking’ and the FULFILLMENT of that need is what keeps a human being full of life. He says that if a new born kid were to be left alone without the ‘stroking’ of another human being, it would actually die. I wish SOMEONE would INVEST time with the likes of the 8 year old to fulfill the deep need to be ‘stroked’ emotionally and physically, lest she should search for it ways that would end up with her getting exploited in the cruelest way possible.

When I came back home as I was reminiscing upon my experience, I was reminded of something Franky Schaeffer, the son of (my favorite Author) the great Francis Schaeffer said in his book, “Sham Pearls For Real Swine”. He says that the person who said that parents need to spend ‘quality time’ with kids should never be allowed to become a psychologist (I improvised the last part of that sentence, I don’t think Franky would disagree though). Franky goes on to emphasis that Parents need to INVEST not just a ‘quality time’ but A LOT of time with kids. He says, “You have to beg, borrow and steal family time from the world bent upon distracting you from the most important things in life”.

When Parents do not INVEST A LOT of time with kids – to attend to their deepest needs, dispel their deep insecurities, help them see the world from a Scriptural perspective, SOMEONE else needs to step-in and do that. If none does that, this generation is sowing seeds for the destruction of the culture that has given us so much freedom, security and privileges. The problem with the education system for our kids does not just have to do with the lack of funds or the selfish attitudes of unions or the lack of committed teachers. The problem is that our society does not value children as much as it ought to. We don’t look at children as souls that need to be nurtured to shoulder the weight of this Civilization. Instead we look at them as ‘material’ beings that need non-human attention of the Wii and/or TV and/or Toys.

One of my very theologically sound friends whom I respect a lot looked at the flat-screen TV at his home and said to me, “This is my son’s baby sitter”. To give him the benefit of doubt, I think it was part joke and part truth. My heart couldn’t be more pained, hearing that. I couldn’t blame my friend either. We live a complex life with so much fighting for our attention. But THIS is not a battle we can afford to lose. Jesus Christ made time for kids when the Disciples thought He had better things to attend to. Jesus knew that kids needed HUGE Human Investment, this generation does not. This civilization will pay the price unless SOMEONE ‘Steps UP’!

Author: Emmanuel R Paulpeter

I am a writer, spiritual director, life coach and a Church Planter who love all things pop culture, theology and spirituality.

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