God blessed me with four beautiful children.  I was able to spend most of their childhood at home with them.  Our days were filled with trips to the park, the library and at home where I spent a lot of time cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry.

These children meant everything to me.  They still do.  Their beautiful faces masked the reality that I had four unbelievers in my home.  I knew that, but I was blind sided by the busyness of raising children.  I knew they needed to go to church, but I never thought of them as a ministry.

Why Is This Important

When our children are small it’s easy to tell them we are going to church.  It might not be easy getting them ready to get there, but we can ensure they go.  As they get older this gets more difficult for some parents, but in general we can expect our children will attend church with us while they live at home.

When they leave home and have the opportunity to decide if they are going to church or not, it is then we get to see if they have a relationship with the church or with Jesus Christ.  We don’t always know until they get on their own.  It is then we can see what type of fruit they produce, and it also then we have no control over their decisions.

When our children are small we have the opportunity to teach them about their need for Christ.  We have the opportunity to live out what a relationship with Jesus Christ looks like.  It is an opportunity to evangelize for 18 years.  Some children accept Christ and start a relationship with Him while they live with us, and others don’t.

I had the opportunity of leading a para-church women’s ministry for seven years.  Our services were geared towards meeting the practical needs of women, and were used as an opportunity to share Christ.  At the most we had an hour a week with each woman.   You have 18 years with your child.  Think of the opportunity you have to impact their lives.

Points to Remember

  1. Ministry isn’t glamourous.  People in the community believed that I went to work everyday and just helped women.  They would say, “How blessed you are to be able to help women all day.”  The truth was I spent most of my time fundraising, managing staff, and doing administrative work.  It was far from glamourous.  I did help women, but only got to spend a few hours a day doing that.  It really just looks a lot like hard work.
  2. We may not see results.  You can give everything you have to your children and take them to church for 18 years,  and they may leave home as an unbeliever.  I have a son who is in the Navy.  He was baptized when he was younger, but has no interest in God now.  He has informed me he is on a spiritual journey and may try different religions.
  3. We are often a poor example.  I was saved when my third child was born, and my husband hasn’t been saved yet.  A year after I was saved we entered into a 7 year marriage trial.  It’s safe to say that my children did not always see a good example of a wife or servant of God.  You know what?  That’s okay.  They saw a woman who was humbled, sought forgiveness often and who was in the process of being radically changed.
  4. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do.  Ministering to unbelievers is difficult.  Ministering to unbelievers you love more than yourself is heart wrenching work.  It will tear your heart out, and bring you to your knees.  We have no control over the decisions our children make, and that makes this ministry particularly hard.  Ministering to the unsaved is heart work, and heart work is hard.
  5. It’s ONLY FOR GOD’S GLORY.  Isaiah 43:7 tells us we were made for God’s glory.  That’s what this is about.  It’s about proclaiming the gospel so that God is glorified.  If we glorify God in what we do we have succeeded.  Success is not when they believe, though that’s our hope, success is when we glorify God.

In two short years we will have an empty nest.  As I look back on raising my children I am proud of the efforts I made to share Christ with them.  Could I have done more?  Yes.  Could I have done a better job?  Absolutely.   Where I faltered, I pray God’s grace covers.

If you are a parent don’t ever doubt that you are a missionary.  Your mission field is your children, and in some cases your spouse as well.  It’s as important of a mission field as those serving in far away countries.  In fact our families are our prime ministry.  We must minister at home before we can ever minister outside of it.

Because of His grace, and for His glory,

Marcy Pedersen

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