Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Children & Babies
Note of caution: I know this update is entitled “Children & Babies,” but due to some mature themes, you may not want to read this update to them.
I was just trying to get to know our new porter, Tsabo. Sitting across the fire from him in the hut, I ask some general questions:
“How old are you?” Twenty-five.
“Are you married?” Yes.
“How long have you been married?” Four years.
“Do you have any children?” Yes.
“How many?” Four.
“How old are they?” The youngest is three and the oldest is fifteen.
Wait. Fifteen? Quick mathematics swirl around my head. “You had your first child at ten?! “ Tsabo chuckles at my jaw (which is hanging open) and eyes (which are open even wider). Yes.
My mind knows the Malagasy culture encourages early sexual activity and marriage as young as twelve, but still I was shocked. At ten years old I was playing dress up and having tea parties. We had an invisible friend named Fred in my ten year old Sunday School class. When the teachers would try to make us sit together, Fred would sit in between the boys and the girls because the boys didn’t want to sit by us girls and vice versa! Here those boys are fathers. And the girls aren’t playing dress up. They’re dressing their newborn babies.
Also, do the math for when Tsabo got married. Eleven years AFTER he had a child with his sipa (girlfriend). This is not at all uncommon. The relationship commitment level is very low for most couples here, and it is standard and accepted practice to have sex with people before you get married and with others even after you are. Oh how hearts and lives are hurt by that! There is another way!
One of our newest lessons is on “God’s Plan.” It tells God’s basic plan for our lives and then goes on to talk about God’s plan for our relationships. While taught in a culturally appropriate way, it is very anti-cultural. We head out to the villages this Wednesday through Saturday. Please pray that God would be preparing the people to hear the truth of this lesson from God’s Word. May their ears be opened and hearts be soft to consider this controversial message about relationships.
I hope to write another update before Christmas, but in case I don’t, a blessing for you all for the joyous season from Numbers 6: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” The Prince of Peace has come to earth (Isaiah 9:6) that we may have life (John 10:10).