Spiritual nurturing of children living in the context of poverty, with specific reference to the role of the christian children's worker.

Mathewson, Susanna Elizabeth (2011-12)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research was to identify the role of the Christian children’s worker in the spiritual nurturing of children living in the context of poverty. The nurturing of about twelve million poverty-stricken children in South Africa is an overwhelming task. This is especially true when these Christian children’s workers are an unrecognised force and unsure what such nurturing entails. Unintentionally children could be harmed by hurtful actions. This research is placed within the field of Practical Theology and has been undertaken from a Christian spiritual perspective. The thesis is designed as a literature study and utilised Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems approach as a lens in the research. It considered the effects of poverty on children and investigated children’s spiritual development in a context of poverty. An exploration of childhood poverty revealed that poverty is by nature complex, multidimensional and never stands on its own. Children’s lives are entangled within the web of poverty affecting all their life contexts. The invisible “violence” of poverty shapes all areas of children’s lives, leaving scars on their physical, cognitive, educational, emotional, behavioural, social and spiritual development which is carried throughout life. An investigation of children’s spiritual development revealed a renewed interest in children’s spirituality from different perspectives, which resulted in different emphases. Children’s spirituality, like a diamond which has multiple dimensions, includes relational consciousness, awareness-, mystery- and value-sensing, and concerns the wellness of the whole-person. Christian children’s spirituality, in addition, emphasises a conscious relationship with God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Context, contextual learning and care for the whole child, which is based on a Christian premise, are essential aspects in the process of a child’s spiritual journey. The role of the Christian children’s worker is to ensure that spiritual nurture embraces all aspects of the lives of poverty-stricken children Practical theological reflections revealed that the perceptions of the Christian children’s worker can influence the effectiveness of ministry. Dangers of having a god complex, dualistic views, compartmentalising ministry and a flawed anthropology of children result in ineffective ministry. In contrast, even though poverty affects all relationships, God is already present with the poor, and the face of God can be found in each child. This requires treating them with dignity and guiding them in restored relationships. The principal conclusion was that the Christian children’s worker can play an important role in the spiritual nurturing of poverty-stricken children. The role includes providing a context of regular relationships with a high level of warmth, support and loving care and offering a Christ-centred Christian children’s ministry where children become aware of God’s presence in their lives. The challenge of conflicting tensions, such as financing resources, meaningful relationships with larger groups and ministry to non-Christian children, will remain. Further research is needed on the interplay between spiritual development and childhood poverty and how to explore God’s presence in larger groups among South Africa’s poor children.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie navorsing was om die Christelike kinderwerker se rol in die geestelike versorging van kinders in ‘n konteks van armoede te bepaal. Die geestelike versorging van die sowat 12 miljoen kinders in Suid-Afrika vasgevang in armoede is ʼn ontsaglike taak, veral in kontekste waar Christelike kinderwerkers nie juis veel erkenning ontvang nie en boonop onseker is van wat geestelike versorging in hierdie konteks behels. As gevolg hiervan kan ondeurdagte optrede kinders onopsetlik skade aandoen. Hierdie navorsing word vanuit ‘n Praktiese Teologiese- en ʼn Christelike-geestelike hoek gedoen. Die tesis is ontwerp as ʼn literatuurstudie, en gebruik Bronfenbrenner se ekologiesesisteembenadering as analitiese lens. Die navorsing handel oor die uitwerking van armoede op kinders, en ondersoek veral kinders se geestelike ontwikkeling in ‘n konteks van armoede. ʼn Verkenning van kinderarmoede bring aan die lig dat armoede van nature kompleks en multidimensioneel is en nooit alleen staan nie. Kinderlewens is verstrik in die web van armoede, wat ál hulle lewenskontekste raak. Die onsigbare ‘geweld’ van armoede het ʼn uitwerking op alle gebiede van kinders se lewens, en laat letsels op kinders se fisiese, kognitiewe, opvoedkundige, emosionele, gedrags-, sosiale en geestelike ontwikkeling wat hulle lewenslank met hulle saamdra. ʼn Ondersoek na kinders se geestelike ontwikkeling dui op hernude belangstelling in dié onderwerp uit verskillende perspektiewe, wat natuurlik ook verskillende aspekte beklemtoon. Soos ʼn diamant met sy veelvuldige dimensies, sluit kindergeestelikheid ʼn relasionele bewussyn sowel as ʼn bewustheids-, misterie- en waardebesef in, en handel oor die welstand van die persoon in sy geheel. Christelike kindergeestelikheid plaas voorts die klem op ʼn bewuste verhouding met God in Jesus Christus deur die Heilige Gees. Konteks, kontekstuele leer, en versorging van die kind in sy geheel – alles gegrond op Christelike beginsels – is noodsaaklike komponente van ʼn kind se geestelike reis. Die rol van die Christelike kinderwerker is om te verseker dat geestelike versorging alle aspekte van die lewens van armoedige kinders omsluit. Praktiese Teologiese refleksie toon dat die opvattings van die Christelike kinderwerker die doeltreffendheid van bediening kan beïnvloed. Die gevare van ʼn godkompleks, dualistiese sienings, die kompartementalisering van die bediening, en ʼn gebrekkige antropologie van kinders lei tot ondoeltreffende bediening. Desondanks, selfs al beïnvloed armoede alle verhoudings, is God alreeds by die armes teenwoordig, en waar kinders is, is Hy in hulle sigbaar. Daarom moet hulle met waardigheid behandel en tot herstelde verhoudings begelei word. Die hoofgevolgtrekking is dat die Christelike kinderwerker ʼn belangrike rol in die geestelike versorging van armoedige kinders kan speel. Dié rol sluit in die voorsiening van ʼn omgewing van bestendige verhoudings met baie warmte, steun en liefderike sorg, en die bied van ʼn Christusgerigte Christelike kinderbediening waardeur kinders bewus word van God se teenwoordigheid in hul lewens. Tog duur die uitdaging van botsende spanninge, soos hulpbronfinansiering, sinvolle verhoudings met groot groepe, en bediening aan nie- Christenkinders, voort. Verdere navorsing is nodig oor die wisselwerking tussen kinders se geestelike ontwikkeling en kinderarmoede, en hoe om groot groepe uit Suid-Afrika se arm kinders God se teenwoordigheid te laat beleef.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17988
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