More and more, pastors in South Florida and around the nation are making the same point to their congregations: “I am tired of burying our children.”
That was the refrain again when the Rev. Willie Lawrence and other faith leaders in the Glades Ministerial Alliance organized the third annual Walk Against Violence rally on Aug. 19. The pastors worked with the School District of Palm Beach County to host the event which took place at the Glades Central High School in Belle Glade.
That is a good step. Besides the home, the church and the school are the most important institutions in the socialization process for our young people. Many times, very little guidance is offered at home. Sometimes the household head is a single mother who has little knowledge and time for adequate parenting. Schools, which, in fact, should function as the surrogate home for the child for a good part of the day, often do not fulfill that obligation, focusing mainly on academics, especially in this recent mad race for acceptable test scores.
As a result, the church is often the “parent” of last resort, but not in the usual sense. It is no surprise that an increasing number of church leaders have taken on the title of “pastor/teacher.” They bring the Word of God and they bring lessons of life – or at least they should.
Most churches also offer classes in Bible teachings and some even provide academic tutoring, all of which can be only for the good.
But there is a more profound role for the church and the pastor and that is to help save our boys from themselves.
The Belle Glade rally was one welcomed initiative in that direction but it is a once-a-year event. Saving our boys is a full-time responsibility and pastors must emphasize that point in every way possible and at every possible occasion.
Mothers and fathers must be reminded of their responsibilities as parents to raise children who are respectful of others and themselves, who are mindful of authority and who go forward in life with pride in themselves and their heritage and with a hope for the future that is based on faith in God and obedience to His will.
In practical terms, that means our boys – and our children, generally – must be the concern not just of their parents but of all who live in the “village.” The males in the community must see it as an obligation to take an interest in the welfare of every child they come in contact with. They must be ready to let our boys know when they are displaying behavior that will only get them into trouble and make every effort to help nip in the bud anti-social habits that will inevitably lead down the road to damnation.
For that is what is happening to our children, to our boys. They are damning themselves when they place their faith in guns, rather than the Bible, when they seek to solve any problem through violence, rather than through the wisdom of scripture.