Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In Praise of Deborah, Servant of God

Tonight BBC Three will run a program about a 13 year old girl who has a grasp on what is real and understands what ultimately matters. Here is what we are told:

Deborah is in this (enviable) position because her deeply religious parents have ensured all her life that she is protected from the sins of the outside world. Instead of being nurtured on a diet of celebrity culture, Deborah has been brought up on a combination of Christianity and traditional family values.

She has never watched television, or been to school, and the only people she really sees are her mother, father and 10 siblings, most of whom she lives with on a rambling farm, which she rarely leaves, bar the odd trip to the supermarket. The Bible, as opposed to Heat, is her required reading.

On Friday nights, Deborah doesn’t have girlie sleepovers. Instead, she heads into nearby Bridport to preach to the youths whom she feels have lost their way: the hoodies and the non-believers.

“Dad takes us to the skate park or the bus stop,” she says, playing with a pink pen adorned in fluff and glitter. “Sometimes they are drunk and have no idea what we are saying. But it’s OK. I never get scared.” And last summer, a BBC documentary crew set out to capture just what effect this had on her life.

I ask Deborah to pretend that I am one of the hoodies and show me how she speaks to them. She asks me if I consider myself a good person. I say that I try to be. Her eyes widen.
“Have you ever lied?” she asks.

I tell her I have told a few fibs in my time.

“OK, so that makes you a liar. And have you ever stolen anything?”

I admit to the theft of a rubber from Woolworths when I was a small child.

“So you are also a thief. And have you ever used God’s name in vain?”

She knows the answer to this – I mistakenly did so almost immediately upon meeting the Drapper family.

“So you are a lying, thieving blasphemer.” She looks very seriously at me. “Would you still consider yourself to be a good person?”

Deborah has the almost preternatural self-confidence that comes from being home-schooled. She spends half of each day praying, cooking, exercising, painting and gardening, and the other half studying a Christian curriculum that includes collectivism and creationism. She is super-bright and fiercely opinionated. She thinks that evolution is “one of the most ridiculous theories ever” and blames it for most of the nation’s ills.

“If you are taught from the start that you are just a piece of slime and that you have evolved from an animal then is it any surprise if you act like one? Survival of the fittest; if you don’t like someone, kill them. That’s what evolution teaches people so is it any wonder when children go to school and do just that?”

She has few friends, just a couple of people she emails from abroad. “I have my sisters,” she says. Does she never wish that she had someone she could call up and have a chat with? “I suppose sometimes it would be nice to have another Christian friend from church whom I could pray with,” she muses. “But I wouldn’t have non-Christian friends because they would probably lead me astray.

“I am not envious of other girls my age. I am happy as a person. A lot of the people I meet on a Friday night are not happy. If anything, they should be envious of me.”

Read it all here.


Star said...

I would be interested to know what you think about my thoughts on this programme

Alice C. Linsley said...

Star, I found this comment of your's very interesting: "I felt sorry for her in the end because not only has she been taught religion as truth rather than an idea but she's been kept away to ensure she really has no choice in the matter."

Her family is not in search of Truth, but seeks to defend a certain view of the Bible. They come off legalistic and one wonders how grounded Deborah's faith really is. When she goes to the university, will she be well informed about how the sciences more and more confirm the assertions of the book of Genesis? That is, what the book actually says, not what people like her family think it says. She'll have a hard time in a secular setting. She isn't being made aware of the very facts that make it difficult for a thinking person to refute the Holy Tradition of Christianity.

I'd love for her to read some of my research at Just Genesis

To know Jesus Christ is pure joy, and if that's what Deborah has, she's rich! If she doesn't have that, then she is poor and her evangelizing of others can make them poor also.

Katie from Wales said...

Thank you Deborah for your honesty in this documentary.
I was deeply moved by you faith and challenged. Your passion and burdon for the lost made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and brought tears to my eyes! You have a burden and passion that can only come from a deep relationship with God.
I have not stopped thinking about you since watching the documentary. I pray that you do not get discouraged.Be encouraged that your faith has changed my life!!
Your lovely family are also in my prayers. The upbringing they are providing for you all is amazing. You are not missing out on anything. You have had more love and care than most children ever will.
Your older brother also blessed me and I pray that he continues to stay strong in his faith and is not discouraged!!!
Thank you again Deborah. God bless and stregthen you and use you mightily. xxx

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thank you, Katie from Wales, for this lovely testimony. God bless you.