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Unable to sleep any longer on the unyieldingly hard bed, I reached for the TV remote in my hotel room in India in the early morning to see if I could catch any news from back home.

I quickly found an English speaking station just as the camera zoomed in on a modern looking Middle Eastern family. The first words the narrator spoke were, "You've heard it said the family who prays together stays together."

"Wonderful!" I mused. "I've stumbled across a Christian program of some sort."

Brutal Penance
But as I continued to watch, my excitement turned to shocked disbelief while this reporter described the annual ceremony this family was about to participate in as dedicated Shiite Muslims.

This mom, dad, and two sons, approximately nine to 11 years old, were shown in a modern kitchen sharing a meal together. They looked like a very average family. Then before the announcer continued to explain this unusual event that was about to begin, he gave some history behind it.

It seems hundreds of years ago Mohammed's grandson went to war with his enemies, and there was no one among his Muslim brethren who were willing or interested in going with him to help. As a result he died in battle as a martyr.

Since that time every year the faithful Shiites take one day to do penance—physically brutalizing themselves and shedding their own blood as punishment for not helping this important man in their history in battle.

Dad Leading the Way
Just then the camera focused in on this well-dressed, well-educated father who took his straight edge razor, and whacked his sons on the top of their heads creating gashes in their skin.

I watched stunned as instantly the two boys began to beat themselves on the wounds until blood began to trickle down their faces. Then it wasn't just once, but they continued to beat themselves at the encouragement of their father until their faces and shirts were covered with their own blood, and it had splattered on the lens of the camera.

This family then joined a long procession of their comrades marching through the streets of their city shouting, waving their arms and beating their heads. Some of the men in the march were literally drenched from head to toe in scarlet red.

Committed to the Cause for Life
This horrendous event hung with me for days. As I reflected on it, two thoughts occurred to me:
  1. Those boys will never be neutral about their faith
  2. Short of a miracle of God, they will never leave their faith
The kind of involvement and commitment they have been mentored into will be imbedded in them—spirit, soul, and body—for life.

It was noteworthy how the father deliberately involved his sons in the very middle of this gruesome event rather than be content to merely tell them about it, or even let them observe from the sidelines.

Also impressive was that he involved his two young sons—just little boys—in a very adult activity. He himself was initiated into this ceremony at the ripe old age of three by his own father.

One might surely wonder why a preschooler was forced into such a grotesque ritual, but this man's dad obviously did not want to waste any time immersing his son in "the faith." No wonder by the time Muslim youngsters reach their teens and college age years they are ready to die for what they believe in.

What About Our Kids?
How different this is from a how a large percentage of Christian children are raised in many Christian circles, both church and family.

A steady diet of cute Bible stories—Jonah and the Whale, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the Lions Den—is the standard attempt at making spiritual giants out of our own kids whether in the home or at church.

George Barna, Christian author and head of the Barna Research Group, in his most recent book "Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions" makes in interesting observation and a very strong statement based on his research. He writes, "Most church going not have a sense of urgency or necessity about raising their kids to be spiritual champions.

"Most parents believe that enabling their children to attend church on a regular basis and to feel generally positive about their religious experience is a high as they can set the bar. Anything achieved beyond that level is seen as a bonus" (page 111).

How opposite this is of our Muslim friends in our opening story.

Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept
Educators tell us the foundation of a child's belief system is established by the time he or she is five years old, and everything from then on is filtered through that belief system.

This should give us an entirely new perspective on the type of spiritual discipling we as parents and churches should take towards even the youngest of the children in our care.

Copyright © Kids in Ministry International
All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Becky Fischer
Web site: Kids In Ministry International
Becky Fischer, apostolic minister, writer, public speaker, graphic artist, and more, is the founder and director of Kids in Ministry International (KIMI). KIMI is a multifaceted ministry that trains children to walk in the supernatural power of God. It also equips leaders and parents to prepare children the same way. Becky has been in children's ministry for over 30 years, ten years as a children's pastor, and twenty years as the director of KIMI. Along with her international teams, she has trained thousands of children, teens, parents, and children's workers through conferences, Bible schools, mission trips, churches, and resource materials in over 50 nations. Becky herself has ministered in 29 of those nations.

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