“It takes a village to raise a child.” This traditional African proverb, made popular in the West by former first lady Hillary Clinton's book by the same name, may be truer than we think.
Throughout Scripture we see numerous relationships which are as strong and loving as any biological bonds. In the Old Testament, Ruth's loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi and Jonathan's friendship with David are well-known. The prophet Elijah mentored his successor Elisha so well that when he was carried to heaven in a whirlwind, Elisha cried out, “My father! My father!” (Years later, King Jehoash of Israel spoke these words on his deathbed to Elisha, no doubt evoking strong memories for the prophet). In the New Testament, a young couple from Nazareth was entrusted to create a healthy, loving home environment for their first born, so that during his earthly life, he could speak with authority about a loving Father, praise women outside of their childbearing roles, and declare that anyone who obeyed God's words—regardless of their status—were his sisters and brothers.
Perhaps the best biblical example of “village parenting” was Moses. Born in secret as a Hebrew slave but raised publically as an Egyptian, his early life was literally saved by a small host of women—the midwives Shiphrah and Puah, his birth mother Jochebed, his sister Miriam, and the daughter of the pharaoh. When he later made the shocking discovery of his real roots and fled to Midian, Moses was nurtured and mentored by his second family—his wife Zipporah, and her shepherding sisters and father Jethro.
A bi-cultural, multi-lingual man, Moses drew strength from those whom God placed in his life. His Egyptian grandfather had put a price on his head, but his father-in-law encouraged him with administrative advice and then left him alone to implement it. He was exiled from his royal mother but became part of a leadership team with his biological siblings Miriam and Aaron. As an urban Egyptian, he was educated in one of the most sophisticated nation states the world has ever seen; in the desert, he encountered God firsthand and passed on a spiritual legacy to the Jews which endures to this day.
Because he was raised by a village, Moses not only survived but grew to become a mighty witness of God's mercy and power in the world. May God do the same in our own lives today.