Troubles of Kenyan fathers illuminate a new parable of the prodigal son

Sun silhouettes trees in Kenya (Unsplash/Bibhash Banerjee)

(Unsplash/Bibhash Banerjee)

by Nancy Watenga

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I have been reflecting on an analogy used by John Powell in his book Through Seasons of the Heart, where he said something like, "God is like the sun. The sun only shines. It gives off its warmth and light. Now we can stand in the light and warmth of the sun or we can leave the sun."

I like to compare the sun and our human fathers. Here in my village, I can pick out some very dedicated fathers, fathers who really care for their children. They have worked hard in life doing every kind of job to put food on the table for their beloved families. These able fathers only want to be a father to their children.

The children in return have taken advantage of the hard-earned wealth, and instead of imitating their self-giving fathers — on the contrary — these sons have turned into spendthrifts. These young people have deliberately preferred to stand away from the light and warmth of the sun by choosing a path leading only to destruction.

The heirs seem focused on everything that would wreck their lives — from smoking cigarettes to taking hard drugs. Through endless celebrations, these children have turned to all sorts of crime that endangers their very lives.

The idiomatic expression must be very true, "No pain no gain." It seems since they did not toil to get their wealth — which their fathers gave them on a silver platter — they can afford to sell their land without a second thought (and too cheaply for that matter) just to get some cash to fund their constant parties.

To put this in context: Land in Kenya is a rare commodity, and considered most precious — a pearl that everybody wants to possess a bit of, no matter how small. Most would stop at nothing to own a piece of land. Some people would kill at the slightest provocation, to protect their land. Therefore, the reckless selling of this pearl for no good reason raises eyebrows in most families, and brings into question the upbringing of children displaying such a behavior.

I watch the precious lives of sons disposing of their parents' land with a lot of empathy, because these people are perishing for lack of knowledge, as Hosea 4:6 teaches us! To add insult to injury they are too important and too busy to attend personal development programs that would help them to come to their senses, like the ancient prodigal son. They have everything that they could desire in life except wisdom — common sense.

These youth may be the only "book" that other youth may read, in the hope of making choices that would lead them to advance in their lives.

According to Deuteronomy 7:6, 8-9, "The Lord your God is God indeed, the faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation towards those who love him and keep his commandments." The theme of this seventh chapter is the love of God, and the power of the chosen people.

As the Israelites were the chosen people of God, so are children to their parents. They are all that the parents care about. Going back to my comments about the children who receive so much parental love but take it for granted, I have to observe that — though they are very dear to their parents — the attitude of such sons and daughters may lead them to a life of misery, in spite of the light and warmth from their parents, and the inheritance of their property.

In spite of the wasted lives of the sons, their fathers continue to patiently wait for the day that the sons will change and become responsible men. Then only can the fathers rest assured that their lineage will not perish, and that there will be a strong custodian of the families' inheritance. They will pay a fortune, if required, to send the sons through a rehabilitation program in an effort to keep them as faithful as their fathers.

I would like to advise parents — especially the young ones — to train their sons and daughters to work both hard and smart, to earn their property and not necessarily wait for the parents' share. If parents could instill the value of hard work early enough in the minds and hearts of the young ones, this would go a long way in producing much more mature and responsible citizens.

Doing that would be a manifestation of their great love for their sons and daughters — as well as themselves — since the parents would be maintaining their dignity, as well as that of their children and great grandchildren. Generations would change and pass the change on to the following generations too. What a world of change and changed people would result!

Les Brown, a motivational speaker in the U.S., said, "If you do not program yourself, life will program you."

If humans, as limited as we are, can go to the extent of taking addicted and reckless sons to rehabilitation, in an attempt to change them, what about God our Father — the Creator of us all? It is awesome to remember that our God is like the sun. He just wants to shine for us and to provide us with warmth and the light.

We stand in the light and warmth of that sun or we can leave the sun. The choice is yours and mine to make.

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