Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Christian Mom Tells Son "Choose Your Own Religion"

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Christian mom Christianne Boudreau says, "I've always been a firm believer that somebody's faith is their own personal journey and they need to find what works for them."

She followed her "firm" beliefs with her son---and was dead wrong.

Be informed.

The story.

Christianne attends Central United Church, a part of the United Church of Canada.

In their statement of faith, they say, "The Bible is the shared standard of our faith, but members are not required to adhere to any particular creed or formulation of doctrine." And they define their church as a "welcoming church."

Christianne and her husband divorced when their son, Damian, was 10. After the divorce, she says, she discovered her husband had been an atheist all along, but kept it from her. But she "doesn't think her husband's lack of faith had any influence on her son."

Christianne had also lost Damian's younger brother to crib death in 2001.

She says that loss "nearly destroyed me. I went through depression. I went through anger. I went through hating God."

Medication didn't help her, but she says,
"Only when I reunited with my faith again did I find the strength to put my life back together again and move forward. I had to go within myself and rely on my faith, to find the strength to put one foot in front of the other."

Following this, she says, Damian began to resist Christianity.
"By the time he was 14" he started questioning my beliefs and started questioning the Bible---claiming there are too many contradictions, too many hypocrites in the church---so he decided to quit church."

The consequences.

After exploring several other religions, as Christianne firmly believed he should, Damian converted to Islam when he was 17.

He then moved out of the house and began connecting with other Muslims.

Then things---everything---began to change. By the time he was 20, the mom says, "his behavior became strict and stringent as far as his practices. He was pulling back into himself."

She says his phone calls became very private; he would take them outside if she or others were close by---he refused to join the family for Christmas, etc.

In November of 2012, he left Canada for Egypt, supposedly to study Arabic and become an Imam.

She says she reasoned that any faith was a good thing and this was even a higher level of faith.

Once in Egypt, he emailed her regularly. Things seemed to be OK. They joked a little and even talked somewhat regularly. He had made some friends. Things "were great."

On November 23, 2012, they talked. At the time the Syrian civil war was raging and protests had erupted in Cairo. She expressed her concerns---he told his mom not to worry he was nowhere near Cairo.

There was one more call. Then silence.

In January 2013, Christianne received a call from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) inquiring about her son.

She said, "I'm sorry he's not here, he's away in Egypt studying right now."

The man on the phone said, "We have some concerns"---Christianne's knees got weak.

They showed up on her doorstep with a lot of questions.

Christianne explained to the men, "This doesn't pertain to him because he's in Egypt studying Arabic."

Finally one of the authorities leveled with her:
"Here's the thing. We've been watching him for nearly two years. We feel he's gone to join a terrorist organization. He is not in Egypt. He was flown into Turkey and has since crossed the border into Syria."

One day out of the blue, Damian contacted his mother and came clean. It would be their last contact.

He said he was there for a purpose--to save women and children from torture, rape, and murder. The mother asked if he was holding a gun. He wouldn't answer. He said he didn't want her to know the details.

Damian Clarimont Bouudreau died in January 2014 at 22 years old in Syria---9,000 miles from his home in Calgary.

The takeaway.

British Broadcasting Company (BBC) has written an extensive article on this tragedy.

Christianne still mourns her son.

She has connected with Daniel Koehler, the director of the German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies. He's recognized as an expert, a pioneering thinker on the subject.

He is working with parents who have had similar experiences regarding the radicalization of their children. There's a lot of information in the BBC article linked above.

Khoehler says, "The family is absolutely an essential key to recognizing the early stage of the process or to intervene in advanced radicalization."

He says, "The family is closest to the potential terrorist. They are the ones you need to work with. You need to strengthen these people..."

"When families notice radicalization," he says, "they try to debate the core theology, the core political arguments and that usually pushes the son or daughter further away, because they believe they have already found the truth."

Clearly it's too late for Christianne and her son Damian. Clearly, she was uninformed in her telling her son to "choose a religion that works for him."

I don't know Koehler or his organization, but I know this:

The Bible is very clear that parents are to be the key influence in their child's life and development. It is not God's way or will for parents to simply tell their kids to find their own religion---the one that works for them.

I understand that sometimes parents do their very best to train up their child, and still, the child rejects the Christian faith. Remember, "when he is old" is sometimes a long way from where the child is now--regardless of their age.

Proverbs 22:6 says: "Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old, he will not depart from it." The key is "train" not just teach.

Some thoughts on "training."

  • Love your children. Not only give them time rather than money, but tell them repeatedly that you love them.
  • Lift your children. Encourage them, not just correct them. Don't put them down, lift them up. (Col. 3:21).
  • Limit your children. If you don't set limits, a child feels rejected. God set limits in the Garden of Eden.
  • Lead your children. Hypocrisy in the home is destructive to the child. Practice your faith authentically in the home. Jesus practiced what He preached. So must we.
  • Laugh with your children. Have fun. "A merry heart does good like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22).

And practice this:

"Thou shalt love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" ( Deuteronomy 6: 5-9).

Be Faithful. Be Diligent. Be Authentic. Be Prayerful.