I made a wrong assumption. I had assumed that because she was counseling at
an evangelistic meeting, she was a fulfilled and happy Christian woman. I was
I have two sons, she told me. Both of them are in prison. I didnt think I
could be a counselor since my own children turned out so poorly. But God has
led me to counsel other mothers who are in as much pain as I.
And, she added, many of those mothers who are struggling with what they
consider failure are coming to faith in Christ.
A few weeks after that conversation, I was preaching in a church at the
opposite end of the country. In the middle of the sermon I felt led to tell the
story of that counseling mom. Later, as I greeted people at the door, a couple,
who I noticed had been holding back, came over to me. We want to thank you for
telling us about that mother whose two sons are in prison, the husband said. We
were short-term missionaries in Asia when we received the news that our son had
killed his wife and two children. We didnt think we could ever go back to
serving God on the mission field. But now, we think we can.
Silent in our churchesAll around us are men and women
who are hesitant about being on mission Christians, because they feel
they have failed as parents and grandparents. When others tell of the
faithfulness of their children and grandchildren, they remain silent, hoping no
one will ask about their family.
In our churches are a lot of silent people, longing to serve God, yet afraid
that they will be seen as frauds or hypocrites, wondering if people will think:
How can you speak to others about the Savior when you couldnt even manage your
own household? Its a challenge thats hard to answer.
Around us are faithful Christians who are crying inside. Here is a pastor
whose daughter recently moved in with her boyfriend. He must counsel other
parents, care for his flock, preach biblical messages, while all the time
wondering where he went wrong with his own. There is the mother who tries to
have a witness to neighborhood women, while aware that her son might break into
their homes and steal from them to support his drug habit.
These are Christians who prayed for their children and grandchildren,
dedicated them to Christ and taught them biblical truths. They seek help from
others, examine their own lives, cry out to God.
What happened? They dont know. They have asked God that same question. But
as Christians who want to be on mission, they trust God and keep
going, even while suffering so deeply.
They cant boast of great parenting and grandparenting success. Yet often
these are the very ones God uses most effectively. Other people, who are in
similar pain, when meeting such an on mission Christian realize that
here is someone who understands, who knows what I feel.
Children and grandchildren hurting themselvesSociety
presses in on young people, stealing from them the truth they once heard.
Choked by the weeds that Jesus described, the wheat is soon taken over. Its so
easy for our children and grandchildren to surrender to the call of the
corrupt, the sordid and reject the way of life and peace and wholeness. Old
Testament men and women experienced it too, seeing their offsprings
unfaithfulness to the second and third generation. Perhaps thats why Solomon
was led to explain in teaching about wisdom, For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself
(Proverbs 8:35-36). Many children and grandchildren are near to us who have
rejected the favor of God and are hurting themselves.
One day on a Christian radio program, a pastor was talking about his
children. All were in Christian service, all were growing in the Lord. The
interviewer asked how this pastor explained such success. His reply was honest.
I dont know, he said. I have friends who were better parents than I, more
faithful in every way, but their children are a disappointment. Its a mystery
ILLUSTRATIONS BY JON KRAUSE
There is only one perfect parentAsk parents or
grandparents if they were good at their roles and most will admit, I failed
many times. I wish I could relive those years when my children or grandchildren
were younger. Then the cry, I wasnt a perfect parent. The reply, of course, is
that there is only one Perfect Parent. All the rest of us are flawed vessels.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans
Yet by the grace of God we are redeemed and called; we are sent out with the
same commission thats given to all believers. We cannot let Satan compound the
tragedy of unfaithful prodigals by hiding in a corner and refusing to be the
on mission Christians we were redeemed to be. Surely, in the story
Jesus told of the Prodigal Son, the father was not meant to be seen as a
Will God someday redeem and restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel
2:25)? Will our children or grandchildren return to the faith they once heard
about, maybe even had acknowledged in baptism?
We may be the answer to another hurting persons
prayerEven in their pain, on mission believers go on
step- by-step, reaching out to others with the good news of the Savior. It isnt
simply that we can be on mission Christians in spite of our hurts; its
that we must.
Today or tomorrow we may be Gods special instruments, the answer to the
prayer of some other parent or grandparent who for years has been pleading with
God to bring an on mission Christian across the path of their
rebellious loved one. We must do it; we must continue seeking out nonbelievers
and sharing Christ with them.
And maybe, as we are faithful in our calling to serve others, God will be
calling some other on mission Christian to help our children and
grandchildren. Even now, God may be bringing an obedient on mission
Christian across the path of our rebellious loved one to be the person who will
help steer our him or her to the life-giving Lord. While there is life, there
is still hope.
God sent an on mission ChristianIn a large
city in the southern part of the United States, a man who had been a rebel and
a prodigal all his life watched as new neighbors moved in next door. He didnt
know it, but his new neighbor was a Christian who had an intentional and
deliberate lifestyle of personal evangelism. That on mission Christian
moving in had no way to know that for more than 50 years people had been
praying for the man next door. He only knew that God expected him to be
faithful in sharing his faith wherever he went.
They lived side-by-side for several years. In time, after many
conversations, that on mission Christian led his long-time prodigal
neighbor to faith in Christ. Today, that once-rebellious man is a committed
believer faithfully serving the Savior.
All around us are men and women for whom others are praying. They are asking
God, Please send an on mission Christian to my prodigal. In spite of
whatever else is happening in our lives, regardless of whatever pain we may be
suffering as parents or grandparents, we are the commissioned ones. We are the
called. We wont let Satan convince us that we cannot be used by God. We will
entrust our prodigals to God and go forward serving the Savior.
Roger Palms is the former editor of Decision
magazine with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the author of
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC