When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13-11)
As parents we often think about our childhood and this reflects how we raise our own children. I was fortunate to have a good and loving mother and father. It is almost 19 years ago to the day that my father passed away but my mother has remained fit, active, and healthy and last August celebrated her 90th birthday when two sons and two grandsons travelled halfway around the world to celebrate with her.
Not a day goes by without at least two or three of her four children phoning her for a chat and two of them are 12,000 miles away. This is the love and regard we all have for this little lady, who is not quite five feet high. She walks daily; goes at least three times a week into the city for coffee with friends or family; has a weekly hair appointment; shops unaided; still does all her washing by hand and keeps her little apartment shining like a new pin.
My siblings and I know how fortunate we were to have parents who put us first and loved and cared for us. We did not have much money; certainly never enough for luxury items except at Christmas time when, in those last few months of the year my father would work all the overtime hours he could, often 14-16 hours a day. Then he would take us into the city to wander through the toy shops, noting what attracted each of us the most. Inevitably, on Christmas day, it was these goodies that filled our Christmas stockings.
In the summer holidays we would often take a bus to the beach. Mother would make heaps of sandwiches and every single time it was a wonderful experience. Always a hard worker she took on cleaning jobs when we were small and later, worked in a clothing factory alongside keeping the home tidy despite having three boisterous boys and a daughter. Today we still feel blessed with such fine parents and the memories they created for us.
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Unfortunately not everyone can look back with such fondness. We look around our world and the cities we live in and see so many children living lives of deprivation. Some come from third world countries, where war and drought displace, maim, starve and kill. But many live in affluent societies with welfare systems and still are deprived of the basics of life.
Around the world, thousands of children die from hunger every year and millions of people with all they need know this but do not seem to care; keeping their wealth close.
When I read about a celebrity having special diamond studded shoes handmade for them or buying the biggest, most expensive house to show off their wealth, I feel frustrated at the sheer waste and greed when so many are dying from lack.
When I read about young boys stolen from their families and turned into child soldiers and we can do nothing to help him; yet welcome the corrupt dictator into our societies, I become angry and frustrated because there seems so little I can do except join organisations like Amnesty International and donate what I can.
Jesus said: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few..
I am grateful that in this world there are workers helping where they can; young people caring and making a difference.
I am grateful for all those who give of themselves and their time and resources in helping to fight blindness in children and adults across the African continent.
I am grateful for all the aid workers, leaving their comfortable homes to help in remote parts of the world.
I am grateful for those who help raise the money for food and medical supplies and for others who fight the fight against corruption and injustice.
I am grateful for organisations like Amnesty International, Tear Fund, Child Fund, World Vision, Salvation Army, Red Cross, The International Blind Mission and the many others who try to make a difference.
These are the people who deserve our respect and admiration; not those who coat themselves in fine garments and jewels and ignore the hurt around them.