‘Ohana…I love this word. On a visit to the Island of Oahu, I came to understand what this word means as I interacted with the wonderful folks at New Hope Christian Fellowship. ‘Ohana is the Hawaiian term for family. It’s phrasing signifies inclusion, relationship, and commitment. The phrase was made popular in the Disney animated film, Lilo & Stich. In the movie, a small Hawaiian girl named Lilo, boldly reminds her sister, “Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind.”
As a person committed to seeing the Next Generation embrace God’s Ways, I realize more and more the important role the family has in God’s plan. The family is the first institution/organization/system that God, Himself, created. He created it with purpose. It was at the very beginning of time here on earth that God formed man & woman and told them to be fruitful and multiply. It was through Abraham’s transient family that He began to reveal His promises for humanity. It was through Israel’s imperfect family that He began to release His plan. It was through David’s dysfunctional family that He would redeem humanity. The family is the vehicle that God has made Himself known for centuries.
Now I am not going to explore the sociological implications of the family. Nor am I going to attempt to define the family (tho the Bible does acknowledge a definition). There are many more brilliant and intelligent people who can spend their time exploring those aspects of family. Instead, I want to simply share what I feel is a revelation of God’s heart for the NextGen – ‘Ohana.
I feel the leading cause to pre-teen & teen violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, depression, suicide, sexual confusion, etc… is the on going disintegration of the family. We can trace most of these symptoms to the root problem of fractured families. It is because of this brokenness that a generation is wandering lost with no moral compass. The emerging generation feels a sense of hopelessness, not because of our depressed economy but because families have forsaken their responsibility to “pass on God’s Ways to the next generation” (Deuteronomy Ch. 6).
This is why I do what I do. This is why I have made it my life’s mission to “help this generation discover and become exactly who God has created them to be.” I believe, as my friend Gregg Johnson says, “we must reach them before we have to rescue them!” To reach the next generation we need to restore marriages and resource families with the tools they desperately need to “train up a child in the way they should go.” (Proverbs 22:6)
The church and the family must partner together to reach this emerging generation. We must both do what we are created to do. The church’s role is to equip for the work of the gospel. The family’s role is to pass on God’s Ways. Together we can reach the NextGen.