Can I compare children to log-burning stoves?!
See, I think there’re similarities: what you feed into the burner doesn’t affect the surroundings immediately. It takes time to break down, inside. Then, suddenly, you see a change equivalent to what you fed in. If you threw in rotten, damp, soft-wood, you stay cold. But with seasoned oak the whole room heats up.
Which begs the question, how can I feed into my children the very best and quality experiences – knowing that what I sow will be reaped in who they become (Gal 6:7)?
I took my 8-year-old son Aidan with me on a Tearfund trip to Uganda. And it felt, from start to end, like what he saw, the people he spoke with and became friends of, and the discussions we had, were like the very finest quality fuel I could sow into him.
As we sat in Wigweng village, next to a small mud thatched hut, talking with George, 16, and his younger siblings, we discovered they lived alone. Their parents had died.
Aidan heard George talk about how he did a day’s labour for a neighbour to earn 20p – to buy Panadol for his brother who was ill. And then he saw a Tearfund church project beginning in George’s village and the hope it birthed in George.
When the fuel in a log burner’s gone, the heat remains – often all night.
Two years after Aidan and I travelled, plenty of heat remains. And, excitingly, he’s applying it to his current experiences. What had been, “a poor community” became “a village full of friends, who we can pray for and help.”
In his own, unedited, words here are Aidan’s reflections, two years on…
“I don’t think I would have ever guessed quite how eye opening these experiences could be. One of the most moving parts was meeting families in utter poverty. I then found out each family has a unique story to tell but they all end the same – in poverty. One family I met had no parents and the oldest was just 16! The things they managed were phenomenal and seeing how well they had managed and how determined they were was very moving. The amount families managed was amazing and they kept going through all the tough times. I just hope that things will not continue like that.”