Jeremy Smith grew up in Guatemala. He holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Spanish and has a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. He and his wife, Martha, have four sons, Luke, Andrew, Joshua, and Micah. The Smiths live and work as church planters among the Makua tribe of Mozambique, East Africa. They moved to Mozambique in 2003.
One of the things Makua culture does well is ceremony. There are many types of ceremonies, and sometimes even small events carry a ceremonial flavor. At these ceremonies those involved usually go all out for the occasion, spending a lot of money on the event for food, presents, and even building a special place for the ceremony to be held. This has impacted the way we bring up our boys- especially in terms of rites of passage- that age when you pass from one status to another. American culture has some of this, but has rarely made it a cultural norm. Sometimes graduation from high school or getting a driver’s license or turning 21 can mark big events in a person’s life- allowing you privileges that you used to not have. Makua culture does this as well, in a ceremony that then allows a boy or girl to be considered “grown up” and thereafter can participate in grown up activities.
In order to help our boys grow up to learn about manhood and what it is to be a man- we have told our kids that they will be going through several ceremonies that will denote a departure from childhood into boyhood, then into adolescence and then on into manhood. Each ceremony comes with instruction, gifts, and new privileges. At the age of 7 I took each of my boys on a camping trip where they were given their first Bible and we talked about the fact that they were growing up and needed to learn to be a man. I introduced them to some concepts that I learned in a book called “Raising a Modern-Day Knight” by Robert Lewis such as: A man rejects passivity, A man accepts responsibility, A man leads courageously, and A man expects a greater reward. Also, I taught them about the three main aspects of a man’s life- We have a Will to obey, a Woman to love, and a Work to do.
So, a week ago we got to take our son, Andrew, through his ceremony of adolescence. Men who have been important in his life- our teammates, a couple of other missionaries around us, and both of his grandfathers all contributed in giving advice as he walked in the evening from one man to another on a trail, being led by his older brother Luke. Each man emphasized the importance of learning these key principles in his life. Later we went to dinner together and shared stories about lessons we learned growing up through mistakes, mischief, or mentors. In the end I presented Andrew with a shield representing his faith- the next foundation that he must develop to keep growing as a godly man.
What a blessing to have the opportunity to see your kids grow up in service to the one true King!