Tuma Kitu Home

Growing up in Kenya has several ‘obvious’ expectations. For example, in primary school, you must shower before 5 pm. After high school, you only ask for fare when you want to do errands for your parents. Once you get to campus or university, be ready to pay for your luxuries while in session. Oh, and just before graduation, you need to have a clear plan for employment (it doesn’t matter how difficult things are). After this is done, and you finally land a casual job or an attachment, please send something home. It does not matter whether you are actually being paid or not – let alone how much the pay might be. While this might not be the standard in every home, it represents many Kenyan homes. Consequently, how do we approach this matter so that it becomes a joyful experience, not a bothersome, manipulative, or imposed exercise? 

Importance of Family Relationships

As a believer, I will approach this matter from a gospel-centric perspective. Family is God’s idea  (Genesis 1:26-28) and must be held in high esteem; unfortunately, it is under attack in our day more than ever. No matter what arguments and wars surround the family, it is a legitimate institution designed by God (Genesis 1:1, 28, 2:24-25, 4:1). Families are held together by a God-given bond (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Ephesians 5:22-33, 6:1-4) that, when honourably observed, makes the family a safe place at all times. When husbands love their wives (Colossians 3:19), and wives submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33), the foundation is set for a good start. Should God give grace for childbearing (Psalm 127:3-5), children make family life enjoyable when they walk in honour and obedience, not in rebellion (Ephesians 6:1-2). Parents are given the next building stone – loving and caring for their children in a God-exalting manner (1 Timothy 3:4-5, Ephesians 6:4). With this call in mind; it becomes easier for us to see how interconnected the family is supposed to be and how this fuels joyful support in times of need (for the grown-up children to the parents) and joyful release from specific responsibilities (for parents who have set aside resources for their children). 

Biblical View on Supporting Family

Does scripture advise on how to approach this matter of family support? Is it in line with the principles set forth for the saint as an expression of practical love? Yes. Scripture may not explicitly say, “Send money or support to your parents. If you don’t, you will die.” But look at this portion of scripture in 1 Timothy 5:8: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” The Spirit of God is definitive about the extent of this kind of support. God says we should provide for relatives (parents, siblings, cousins etc.). So the call goes out for us to provide for our families. 

Part of honouring our parents is being able to come through for them in their old age and in their time of need. James talks about pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27) and its meaning. If we go to visit other older people out there and forget our own parents, that is hypocrisy. After all, if we see people in need and refuse to help them, it is evident that the love of God does not abide in us (1 John 3:17). Therefore, much as we may not get a clear-cut scripture on this matter, the character of God in the saint does not allow us to exhibit such selfish tendencies as not visiting or not providing for our parents. 

Parents Ought to Provide for Their Children

We do not live in an ideal world, but, as parents, scripture calls us to save for children and not the other way around (2 Cor. 12:14). This notion has disappeared in our generation (and many others before us), where children are viewed as a money-back project; once they finish university or college, they need to start paying for the upkeep given during their childhood days. Scripturally, we ought to long profoundly that God will give us the wisdom to lay up treasures for our children (Proverbs 13:22). Secondly, Jesus calls us parents to provide objectively. In Luke 11:11-13, Jesus cites that even ungodly people know how to give good things to their children. Whichever way we want to look at it, as believing parents, we are called to provide and care for our immediate relatives – children and spouses. 

Drawing the Lines

Be that as it may, we need to be wise lest we get caught up in deceitful situations driven by manipulation and greed (Ecclesiastes 5:10, Proverbs 15:27). For instance, some parents ask their children for money using false stories. One such story is about a man who sent cash to his mom to run a chicken business. One day, the mom called and claimed that all the chickens had died of disease and needed to get a new brood of chicks. Unknown to the mom, this man was working closer to their upcountry home. He decided to pass by and see this terrible sight, only to find the mom at home with no chicken business. She had lied all along about the chicken business. Such stories are rampant, and we must guard against them, whether single or married. 

Family Support and the Singles

There are two ways to look at this as a single person. First, if you are single, working and living with your parents, there is no doubt that you need to shoulder some responsibilities (1 Timothy 5:8). Pay part of the bills (water or electricity) or take up a part of the monthly budget (Proverbs 11:24-25). Do not use your money for aimless things and claim that your parents are well off (Proverbs 21:20). Responsibility means looking around and discovering how you can be helpful. Secondly, the best way for you to grow in maturity is to move out and start living independently (unless your parents are incapacitated somehow) (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, 1 Timothy 5:4). In this case, factor in your monthly budget cash to support the parents if they cannot meet some of their needs. However, if they are well off and can fend for their needs, consider gifts here and there as a token of appreciation (Proverbs 3:27). We do not always have to have a crisis for us to give. Sometimes we give as a blessing to parents (Galatians 6:10). 

Family Support and the Married

If you are married, this is a matter of discussion with your spouse because you’re one with them (Matthew 19:5-6). Do not silently decide what support you will send upcountry because your first family is your nucleus family (1 Timothy 5:8, Genesis 2:24). If the parents are sincerely needy, seek help from your siblings (if you have any) so that the burden is bearable (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). On the other hand, if you are an only child, wisdom says that you must evaluate the situation and ensure that your family does not suffer because of your external support to relatives. 

Whatever situation you find yourself in, scripture calls us to a life of generosity (2 Cor. 9:7, Acts 20:35, Proverbs 19:17, 1 John 3:17), knowing that our God can supply all that we need according to His riches above (Philippians 4:19, Psalm 84:11-12, Proverbs 11:24-25). 


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