In the book Praying the Scriptures for Your Children (Zondervan), author Jodie Berndt recounts how a group of moms prayed that their children would share their faith in Christ within their public school. When the moms gathered the following week for their prayer time, one woman, Callie, could hardly contain her excitement.
"Guess what!" she exclaimed. "You all know Eddie, the second grader my son Brandon's been trying to reach out to. This week his teacher gave his class the assignment to write a letter to someone. Brandon chose Eddie, and in his letter he wrote, 'Please ask Jesus to come into your heart. Here's why,' and he listed several reasons. When Brandon read his letter to Eddie, he gently asked Eddie if he'd like to ask Jesus into his heart with him, and Eddie did! Isn't God amazing?"
God is amazing—and more than willing to help our children become bold in proclaiming the gospel to others. Here are some tips on how to raise a child with a heart for passing on his faith:
Help your child understand the basics of the gospel.
From the time your child is young, explain the salvation message clearly. It's simple: Tell your child God loves you and him; explain that we're all selfish and do wrong things, and that this is called sin. Jesus died to take away our sins. We can ask Jesus to come into our heart. We tell him we're sorry and ask him to forgive our sins. When we do this, we can know one day we'll be in heaven with Jesus, and he will never leave us (Rev. 3:20; 1 John 1:9; Heb. 13:5).
Show that sharing Christ is a lifestyle.
If you pray for your friends to come to Christ and actively look for ways to speak about him, your kids will be more likely to do this with their friends, too. In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Moses challenged the Israelites to talk about God to their children when they sat, walked, rose up, and lay down—in other words, throughout the day (6:5-7). It's not supposed to be a one-time event.
Give your kids a vision. Every year we set aside a time to share our individual needs and goals within our family. As a part of this time, each family member names two or three friends he or she is praying will come to know Christ. This spurs our entire family toward outreach.
Recently our daughter Libby phoned from college to say, "You know how I've prayed for my sorority sisters for almost four years? Well, tonight Lauren and I went out to talk, and she prayed to ask Christ into her life!" You can imagine how thilled I was—not merely for Lauren, but also for God's answer to my daughter's prayer.
During the holiday season, our family collects the photos we receive in Christmas cards. After Christmas is over, we post them on the bulletin board by our kitchen table. Each day we pick one family to pray for that day. This is a small but easy way to help your kids catch the vision for praying for others.
Share yourself with others.
I've always had a habit of praying for my physicians and trying to befriend them. Our kids know this and are sensitive to caring for them as well. When our children were in middle school, they befriended Kathy, the dental hygienist who cleaned our family's teeth. Over time we shared God's love with her. We invited her to come to church with us. When Kathy got saved and decided she wanted to be baptized, she asked our children to stand beside her at the baptism.
My friend Ann is an avid tennis player. She prays for her teammates on her club team. Several years ago, she began a "First Friday Forum," a coffee in her home on the first Friday of each month. She invites her tennis friends to come hear a local speaker talk on topics such as "Does life have meaning?" Many of her teammates come because they like Ann. Over the years, several have come to know Christ personally. Ann's three sons pray for her outreach, and they've seen the fruit of her ministry. Will they have a passion to share Christ as they grow up? You bet!
Plan special events.
During the holidays, you may find it easier to share Christ through special events. When our children were young, we hosted an annual "Birthday Party for Jesus," in which our children were active participants. We invited neighborhood children and their parents over, served birthday cake complete with candles for Jesus, then my husband, John, read the Christmas story to everyone who came—including many with no spiritual background.
Why not plan a similar event with your children, so they'll see evangelism in action? One excellent resource for a neighborhood gathering is Max Lucado's book, The Christmas Cross. Or consider showing the Jesus film—Campus Crusade for Christ has two versions, one for children, and one for adults. (To order, call toll free 800-827-2788).
One of the greatest gifts you can give your children this year is a passion to share the wonderful gift of God's salvation to the people in their lives. Begin right now!
Susan Alexander Yates is the author of numerous books, including And Then I Had Teenagers (Baker Book House). She and her husband, John, have five children.
Moms Speak Out!
The most effective way I've discovered is living out my own faith before my kids. They see how I treat people at the grocery store, how I respond to others who are hurting, or if I'm willing to pray for the needs of those around me. Often I see my children mirroring my attitudes and actions to their friends.
Sports and music are great hooks to capture a guy's interest, so I've encouraged my teenage son to invite his buddies to youth-group sponsored events. As a result of my encouragement, he's become bolder about inviting friends to church, and one friend's even begun attending youth group regularly with my son!
My grandmother's in a nursing home, so when my two daughters and I visit her, we bring other residents care packages of home-baked goodies and Christian literature. The seniors are often lonely and love to see children, so they're thrilled when the girls pass out the packages—and my children get a great lesson in sharing Christ's love with others.
What specific strategies have you used to help your child when she feels rejected, excluded from a clique, or unpopular in school? Send us your tested tips and name, address, e-mail address and/or daytime phone number, and ages of your kids. For information on how to contact Your Child, see page 15.
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