As a family, we have many wonderful memories of a Christian Holiday Camping Centre called Cefn Lea, in Mid Wales. The first time we went, the five of us stayed in one of their log cabins; then we bought a tent so we could go more often on our small budget. Later, we had an ancient but very serviceable Dandy camper. The great thing was, the kids were safe to wander around and meet up with others their own ages, they had their own youth programs, and were free to enjoy themselves as they pleased. We only ever caught up with them at mealtimes! But the kids they were meeting up with were all from Christian families. Many of them were really going on for God themselves. It was an environment where it was cool to be Christian, and where the young people were encouraging each other in their faith. It’s perhaps no surprise that quite a few of them are now in ministry.
As I read Genesis 34, I notice that poor Dinah had a rather different experience. Her father given to favouritism, doesn’t seem to have shown much to her. The only daughter, left to her own devices while her brothers were all out working the land, it’s hardly surprising that she sought the company of the Shechem girls. This must be one of the saddest chapters in the bible. It starts badly, and just gets worse, and God gets no mention through the whole sorry story.
The importance of valuing individuals goes without saying, and especially young, vulnerable individuals. Churches who do not provide the very best for their young are not going to see them develop into future disciple-makers. And of course, within families, it’s obvious that the rich environment of mixing with other kids within the faith is going to give them the best opportunities of developing their own faith walks.
However, we are not all in a position to take kids and dunk them in a rich sauce of faith-enhancer. But most of us know someone who needs encouragement – young or old. And we can all pray for the young families around us. And we can all find ways of supporting those that are in a position to enrich the environment for the young. What ways can you think of to prevent horrid things happening to today’s Dinahs? Let’s get God in the picture, and then we can change the story!