As in all Native cultures, our Eastern Band of the Cherokee value family very highly. On our tribal website (http://www.cherokee-nc.com) you will read that “ours is life that realizes harmony with nature, sustainability, personal freedom, and balance between work, play and praise.” Each tribal member is free to pursue the path they feel leads to Creator. Many thousands of us have chosen to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our clan has a strong desire to learn God’s Word. Thanks to our great ancestor, Sequoyah, who introduced the Cherokee alphabet to our National Council in 1821, the vast majority of Cherokee became literate within a few months. When the Bible was translated into Cherokee, many found learning God’s Word led to a personal relationship with Christ.
To plant the Word of God in the minds of our children is to plant good seed. Find innovative ways to get the Scriptures into their spirits. It helps them cultivate new patterns of thinking and behavior. When our children are young, we have a great opportunity to guide the influences that shape their thoughts and values. The earlier they begin to receive the Word, the longer it will affect their way of living. By meditating on the Word of God, success in life is assured (Joshua 1:8).
It is easy for children to remember Bible verses, but begin with simple ones and repeat them often. Make Bible memorization fun. Look them up in the Bible together and make that verse part of the mealtime prayer. Ask your child if they remember their verse. If not, never scold them, but repeat the verse over with them a few times. Memorization of a verse must be done in such a way that the child will want to learn more.
Notice your child’s eyes. Preschoolers can’t resist entering into any activity that intrigues them. Our little ones love to be included, so capture their interest. Christian parents should be aware of the child’s constant need to observe and absorb. This is why too much television is dangerous. The “tater tots” of today will be the “couch potatoes” of tomorrow. Take advantage of their interest in learning during this special time in their lives and give them the Word of God in bite-sized portions. Even the youngest children are capable of learning about God, Jesus, prayer, kindness, respect, obedience and Bible characters.
Children love Bible stories and instinctively respond to the life of Jesus. They tend to retain interest when a story is told in an attractive and enjoyable way. By making use of the various types of stimuli children enjoy, they will look forward to learning God’s Word.
Seven Tips for Family Devotions:
1. Keep it short. Vary the lengths of time according to the interests and ages of your children. If you overburden them with long devotions, they will find many excuses not to participate.
2. Avoid scolding during devotions. If a child needs correction, remove him/her from the family circle and deal with the child in private.
3. Use lots of various visual aids.
4. Be animated when you tell a Bible story. Make it exciting.
5. Use physical closeness during devotions. Hold your child if he/she wants to be held or sit close. The child will associate the closeness of God with your closeness.
6. Sing the songs you sang in devotions that day around the house.
7. Reinforce the memory verse throughout the day by asking them about it.
Native Christian parents have the advantage of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to guide them and give them ingenuity throughout the child-rearing years. The Spirit of God is always ready to give you fresh ideas when it comes to instructing your children in the ways of our Creator (Jn. 3:1-21).