A Bitter Pill to Swallow

A Bitter Pill to Swallow

Protecting children from their mistakes does not prepare them for reality.

Faith Hawarari and her husband live in Zimbabwe, Africa. She works as a private secretary at a private company.

When a pastor's child is censured in the church, it is painful ordeal. Unless the Holy Spirit intervenes, the spirit of the child can be broken, and the parents' hearts can harden against the church. I know. My child was censored, and I vividly remember the day my heart began filling with bitterness and my spiritual life began declining. It was December 26,1994.

Before that date, I fasted once a month for the future of my child. It was common for me to wake up at least twice a night and pray for my family. On the day my child was disciplined, I plunged into a bottomless pit where the devil lurked.

At the time I was conducting youth seminars around the district. I spent my time counseling youth and their parents. It did not matter if they belonged to our church; I did it out of love and a growing need to share God's message with those around me.

My work was gratifying, and appreciation for my dedication was shown in many ways. Community leaders and fellow church members thanked me for the concern I showed to the community's youth. Discipline among our young people was evident, and I felt good about my life.

Then the devil brought disaster upon our family. My daughter came to me, eyes swollen from crying, and informed me that she was pregnant. I was in a state of deep discouragement. I opened my Bible and read the verse that says to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I felt like a failure. I asked myself what I had done wrong. I felt guilty for working with other children and their parents when it seemed that I had neglected my own. I was convinced I was a failure.

When my daughter came to me with her news, she begged that I keep it a secret from everyone, including her father. I declined. Her father, my husband, the church's pastor—they were the same, and I knew he had to be told. The news shocked him so badly that he fell to the ground and began sobbing. I worried that I had made a mistake in sharing such terrible news.

My daughter, who heard her father crying, burst into the room and fell to the ground. I feared she was dead. I rushed to her side to make sure she was okay. My husband summoned his strength and lifted himself off the ground. He walked to our daughter, stooped to pick her up, and placed her on our bed. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he began massaging her face. He whispered to her, "I'm sorry, Trish. May the Lord forgive you. I already have."

When Trish was coherent, the three of us knelt down and prayed. My daughter confessed her sins and prayed a beautiful prayer. It touched my husband's and my broken hearts.

As pastor of the church, my husband felt an obligation to go to the church board and tell them of our daughter's circumstances. The head elder hesitantly took charge of the situation. On the day he announced my child's censure, I gave a speech. I told the church body that I strongly dis­agreed with my child's behavior. Afterwards many church members, old and young alike, praised me for the courage I had shown.

This experience has made me realize that anyone can make a mistake, yes, even someone in the pastor's family. I now know that church members are ready to forgive and be understanding if the pastor and his family are willing to repent to handle the problem openly.

I have learned that protecting children from their mistakes does not prepare them for reality. Sooner or later, we all have to make our own decisions and suffer the consequences.

God has taken this situation and taught my family some valuable lessons. I have become much more sym­pathetic to those who experience heartbreak in their lives. Our family knows we must stand up for what is right and moral; we must hold high the principles of the Master. The devil works tirelessly to mislead our children, but through Jesus Christ, we and our children can become victors.

I swallowed that bitter pill of despair and disap­pointment and turned my anguish over to the Lord. My daughter married the man who fathered her child, and they have begun a new life together. I have a grandchild, and I praise the Lord for His blessings and the lessons I have learned.