As Christian parents we all desire to see our children walking with Jesus. Part of a vibrant relationship with Christ is joining Him in His global mission. How can we send globally-minded missionaries from our families into adulthood? We have three daughters. Two of them are very young adults living away from home. Both are vibrantly sharing the gospel in their unique domains. I recently received this text from one of them. “Dad, how do I help Fatima* understand the trinity?” Think about that question. Our 20-year-old daughter is deep enough into a relationship with a Muslim friend to have conversations about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. How did we get here?
Prayer is powerful. Years ago, Angela (my wife) and I embraced the two greatest commands stated by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40 as a form of prayer for our children. I believe we have daily prayed over them these very words. “Jesus, would you grant our daughters the grace to love you with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength? Would you guide them to love all people like you do?” In this prayer we are agreeing with Jesus and asking Him to do a Spirit-led work in their lives to help them love uniquely like disciples of Jesus. I believe Jesus is showing us the fruit of prayer.
Demonstration is an effective motivator. Teaching our children to love all people as created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) is an important aspect of discipleship in our family. We live in Houston, Texas, one of the most multicultural cities in the United States. It seems the entire world has come to Houston! For years our daughters witnessed their mother engage with Muslim neighbors. As young girls, they played with the children of a Pakistani woman every week as Angela and Miram went to the gym together and returned to our house for tea and conversation.
Seeing authentic but intentional relationships like this one leading to gospel conversations formed our daughters’ view of life and ministry. They enjoy connecting with people from different backgrounds and religions and they get excited to share about Jesus in the context of those relationships. They are effective missionaries with people from around the globe in their local context. Why? Demonstration is part of it.
Global experiences help as well. Believe it or not, our girls have never been to Disney World. That may seem like an American parent fail. Their mother and I were determined to use “travel” money to give them global experiences. By God’s grace we put our feet in the lands of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Turkey. Our daughters gained friendships with people and families in those places who are very different from us. They have friendships with Jewish Israelis, Arab Israelis, Palestinian Christians, Lebanese and Syrian Muslims, and Turkish Muslims.
They attended a mosque in the Middle East and observed as we interacted with the mullah and other leaders. They listened as leaders of the mosque asked questions and gave us the opportunity to answer biblically. They learned how to honor people of other cultures and religions and to share the gospel, not forcefully, but in love when given the opportunity.
We aren’t a perfect family. As parents we know what it’s like to celebrate on the mountaintop and what it is to be in the fetal position, not knowing what to do. By God’s grace we are launching missionaries into adulthood from our home. Prayer, demonstration, and global experience are crucial if you want to do the same.
*Names changed to preserve anonymity.