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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Looking Through the 4/14 Window

By Rob Hoskins
Feb. 20, 2011

How important are children?

If you want to know how important children are, go to a marketing conference for the Fortune 500. I was mesmerized.

These men and women were insistent that in order to make your brand successful, you have to make sure it’s ingrained in children by the time they’re 8 years old. How do you do that?

Among the tools they recommended using to capture the minds of children:

• Tribalism

• Rebellion

• Sexuality

I was stunned. As the list went on, I asked, “Is anyone else here at all concerned we’re talking about getting into children’s minds with rebellion and sexuality with no reference to morality?” My question wasn’t answered. I was resoundingly ignored.

Fortune 500 companies understand that global businesses want to advertise to those up-and-coming consumers because what is put in the heads of children today determines what they’re like as adults tomorrow. And this materialistic targeting of children, coupled with the unprecedented growth of global media, is a dangerous phenomenon that impacts almost every child on the planet.

I was recently in rural Swaziland doing research in primary schools. We were trying to discover the students’ media habits. I was shocked to find that not only were they watching television 18-20 hours per week, but their second-favorite program was The Jerry Springer Show.

This illustration shows why we, as believers, must be concerned about establishing a biblical foundation — a perspective of truth and God’s eternal plan — for children all over the planet, especially in areas where parents may not be biblically literate or even remotely willing to communicate godly truth to the next generation. This is why OneHope’s vision is for a relevant presentation of God’s Word to touch the life of every child and youth, delivered by local faith communities that can disciple them.

80 percent by age 18?
For years it was believed in the American church, based on a Barna study, that 80 percent of the adult Christians in the United States had made their decision for Christ prior to age 18. We know today that calculation aimed too high. In fact, more recent research shows that some 85 percent of America’s believers chose Christ when they were between the ages of 4 and 14. The Fortune 500 marketers were entirely correct. By the time young people reach age 14, many have made their choices, are set in their ways, and have established their worldview.

If we want to extend biblical values to the next generation, we must ingrain those values into their heads and hearts long before age 18, even before age 14. As Luis Bush of the “4/14 Global Initiative” and others suggest, the critical time is the “4/14 Window,” when children are old enough to understand their choice and choose Jesus and not too old to have already had their worldview permanently established. I affirm Bush’s assertion that this is the key demographic for missions in this century.

Bush tells us: “I had known that at one time, Europe was the center of Christianity, but in my research, I learned that in 1900, when almost 90 percent of all known Christ-followers lived in Europe, 86 percent of European children attended Sunday School. However, 100 years later, in the year 2000, only 4 percent of European children did so” (Raising Up a New Generation From the 4/14 Window to Transform the World, 2009).

Failure to plant the Word in the minds of the next generation means a failure to pass along the message of salvation and the Kingdom values that underpin civilization. The moral malaise into which Europe has fallen is evidence of neglecting the admonition to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6, KJV). The good news is, it’s never too late. The Holy Spirit is always ready, willing and able to lead us into an effective ministry that can capture the next generation.

This is the vision of OneHope: “God’s Word. Every Child.”

They’re not forgotten — by the enemy
Recently I was meeting with church leaders in Colombia. They explained that their concern was not just for the abandoned children, but more for those who were targeted, recruited and exploited by gangs, political military groups and drug lords. In Africa, children become child soldiers; in Asia, child sex workers. The enemy doesn’t simply forget about them; he ensnares them. Only the truth can set them free.

I think of a Haitian girl named Elienne.

When she was young, her parents sold her to an “uncle.” In some countries, poor families force their children into service in order to put food on the table. Often a young girl becomes the sexual slave of a grown man. That’s what happened to Elienne.

For years she was enslaved, ashamed and hopeless. When she ran away from the abusive situation and went home, her parents were disappointed to have her back — another mouth to feed. She was alone, unloved, afraid, weeping bitter tears as she wondered, Is there someone out there who loves me? She didn’t discover the answer to that question until a OneHope ministry team came from the local church to her school.

Elienne embraced their message and the Book of Hope they gave her. Today, she has made a decision to follow Jesus, and she knows for sure that Someone loves her — and He always will.

Christ’s overwhelming love is the foundation of all we do as believers, the foundation of all we are as believers. It’s this love we’re proposing that must be transmitted to the next generation as early as possible. The window of time we have to reach the children with this good news is small — from age 4 to age 14. Beyond that, they become less and less receptive.

Please join me and the OneHope team in praying for the next generation and doing all we can to reach through the 4/14 Window to give them the hope of Jesus Christ.

ROB HOSKINS is president of OneHope. He resides in Florida with his wife, Kim, and daughters Diandra and Natasha.

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