From Kay Meyer's column in the St. Louis Metro Voice newspaper from 1994 to 2013.
Witnessing - Begins at Home
By Kay L. Meyer
Often, when I present programs at area congregations and schools, a mom or dad will come up afterward and say, "I wish God would give me a mission in life."
I'll respond, "God has given you a mission. You mission, and my mission, is to raise our children to know and love Jesus Christ." It isn't an easy job -- in fact raising Christian children in today's world may be the most difficult job you will ever experience. It doesn't happen by osmosis. It takes prayer, time, energy, concern, and care. It takes a lot of modeling of the faith, as well as speaking of the Lord, and His love, as we walk and talk with our children.
Children are a precious gift from the Lord (Psa. 127:3). He has given us the responsibility and privilage of raising our children so they grow up physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yes, witnessing begins in the home.
You may have begun sharing your faith with your children while they were too young to even remember. You took them to be baptized or dedicated them to the Lord as infants, taught them to fold their hands and pray at mealtime and at bedtime, prayed with and for them, and took them to church and Sunday School.
You continued to share your faith as they grew up into Him (Eph. 4:15). You helped them memorize Bible verses and complete lessons for Sunday School, Bible classes, and confirmation. You told them how much you loved them, how proud you were of them, spent time with them, and talked about the Lord and what it means to have faith in Christ in everyday activities as you drove them to dance lessons, gym classes, school, church, ate meals and washed dishes together.
One of the best ways to help your child know and love the Lord is to not only talk about what we should and should not do (the law), but to model and live our faith within the home.
One aspect of living our faith within the home means recognizing and admitting our failures and sinfulness to our children. As Christians we are both saints and sinners. We are in need of daily forgiveness from the Lord. We often need forgiveness from those within our families. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God forgives us for Jesus sake. So will a loving Christ-centered family.
The most difficult place to live our faith is in the home. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another." Are you confessing your sins and praying for each other regularly? If not, why not begin today!
Doesn't it seem anger or bitterness erupt easier with loved ones than with anyone else? Both parents and children say and do things that cause arguments and problems. In Eph. 4:31, 32 we are told, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." What a wonderful Bible verse to use within our homes. Why not post it on the refrigerator as a constant reminder for your family?
Little things can also demonstrate our faith and witness to family members within the home. Hanging pictures of Bible passages or Jesus, wearing a lapel pin that reminds us of our Savior and Lord, having family devotions together, praying together at mealtime and bedtime, listening to Christian radio within the home, taking children to a Christian bookstore and letting them purchase a tape or book, or just talking about the Lord as we drive our children to sports and school activities.
Consider how you have shared God's love with your children this week. If you're having trouble finding time, begin watching for quiet times to share your faith. Don't forget that times we spend as we transport children to and from school and sports activities, can be wonderful opportunities to communicate our love and God's love to our children.
As you share your faith with your children, many opportunities to share with other relatives, friends, and neighbors will also occur. The following are just a few examples:
"Our daughter had invited a neighborhood friend whose parents were unchurched on our camping trip. We played Bible Charades and discussed the Bible verses afterwards. This game opened up several conversations about Jesus with our neighbor. An opportunity to witness."
"I was babysitting for a friend's eight year old daughter one summer. The children and I read several Bible stories together. My children wanted to get on to other activities, but Jill was so excited to learn stories from the Bible. "Do we have to stop? Please teach me more!"
When her mother came to pick her up she said, "Mom, the Meyer's read stories from the Bible. Why don't we begin doing that mom? It was fun!" Although Jill's parents attended church, they had never used the Bible within the home. Another non-threatening opportunity to witness.
Suzie attended Sunday School, and church with my daughter, Coreen. Her parents were not Christians. During a thunderstorm Suzie was afraid and prayed out loud to Jesus, "Jesus, please keep us safe. I'm scared. Be with me and mom."
Her mother exclaimed, Oh, no, Suzie, you can't pray to Jesus. He isn't God." Suzie answered, "Yes He is, mom. We learned that at school. We can pray to Jesus."
Her mother asked me the next day, "Do you really teach that you can pray to Jesus?" Suzie's mother had misunderstood what Christians believe about Christ. Her own daughter taught her, that not only can we pray, but we can pray to Jesus. Out of the mouths of babes--children witnessing to parents.
One last story. The Mitchells' eight year old son invited a new friend who had recently moved into the neighborhood to have dinner with them. During dinner this family learned the boy, his brother, and mom did not attend Sunday School or church. They extended an invitation for them to attend their congregation. Some months later the entire family committed their life to Christ and became active members within their congregation.
The Mitchells didn't know it, but this young eight year old boy was to become a minister one day. He would lead hundreds of individuals to the foot of the cross. Witnessing begins at home. It really wasn't so difficult, was it? All this family did was share a meal and their faith in Christ with a young boy. They showed interest in his life by asking questions about his family. When they discovered they didn't attend church, they invited them to visit their congregation. But, God was behind the invitation! Remember God's word says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth." (I. Cor. 3:6)
Remember, as you model and share your faith within the home, God will open doors to reach beyond your immediate family to others. Why not begin with prayer? Why not begin at home? Why not begin today!