Editors note: This is the story of an ordinary boys
extraordinary experience of becoming a Christian and how his parents helped
guide him to make that decision. Sandy Austin, a school counselor in Lakewood,
Colorado, offers comments on the parents actions and conversations.
One Friday Nathan woke up and went downstairs to greet his mother, as usual.
He had been sick the last couple of days and didnt have much to say. Mother
thought he might still be a little sick, so she suggested that he stay home
from school again just to be sure. Of course, he didnt argue with that
Later in the morning as Nathan and Mother were watching TV together, Nathan
asked, Last night when you came to check on me before you went to bed, did you
see me crying?
No, I just saw you sleeping. Were you crying? replied Mother.
Nathan wouldnt answer her. Mother decided to try that question in a
Why were you crying? she asked.
Great! Its always good to ask open-ended questionsquestions that
cant be answered with a yes or no response. Thats the best way to open up
communication lines with your child.
He still wouldnt answer. Mother knew that Nathan was always slow to share
his feelings, so she decided not to ask him any more questions, figuring he
would tell her more about what he was thinking when he was ready.
This was wise. If we force our kids to talk with us, they may
completely shut us off. At this point Mother could say, Thats okay, you dont
have to answer right now. Let me know if you feel like talking
A few hours passed, and Nathan seemed bored. Mother could tell he wasnt sick
anymore, so Dad took him out for a while. They went to the store, bought Nathan
some new shoes, went to the video store and then stopped for a snack. These
usually would have been fun outings for Nathan, but Dad noticed that he was
Is something wrong?
Kudos to Dad for spending one-on-one time with Nathan. Next time
he might try open-ended questions.
No, Nathan answered. However, Dad felt sure Nathan had something on his
mind. When they returned home, Nathan was quiet as he watched Mother working in
Finally he spoke: Whats it like when you die? Do you just fall down, or
To Mother, this must have seemed like a strange question. But
she validated Nathan by answering it. Children often ask questions that may
seem strange to us, but its appropriate to their developmental stage, and we
should answer the questions to the best of our ability.
Well, sometimes people are already lying down, like in a hospital bed or in
their own bed at home. Those people dont fall down. But others might be in a
car accident or have a heart attack or something, it just depends, Mother
And then God comes and takes their soul to heaven, and they get a new body,
Right, if they are Christians.
But does it hurt? asked Nathan.
Well, some people suffer before they actually die, and that hurts. But when
God takes their spirit to heaven, I dont think that hurts.
Dad walked into the room, looking confused as he heard the end of the
Why are you talking about all of this? Dad asked.
That may have been a little too abrupt. Dad could have said
something like: This is an interesting topic, what brought up this subject? It
appears Dads question shut down their conversation.
Nathan shrugged his shoulders, and Mother replied, Because he asked.
Mother always encouraged Nathan to talk to her about whatever was on his
mind and to ask about anything he wanted to know. The rest of the afternoon was
busy, and that evening as Nathan got out of the shower, Mother was there to
hand him a towel. He looked into her eyes and asked, Will I go to heaven when I
As Nathan continues his questioning, Mother should pray for
wisdom and discernment in how to respond to him.
If you are a Christian, she answered.
Well, I am a Christian, I just havent been baptized. Ill probably get
baptized when Im eight, he said, remembering that his sister was eight when she
was baptized. Or maybe when Im seven. (Nathan was already seven.)
Honey, Jesus will tell you when you are supposed to get baptized, and youll
know when its the right time. You cant say it will be when you are seven or
eight. You have to let God tell you when the time is right for you, because its
not the same for everyone. You have to listen to God.
Great advice! This allows Nathan not to feel pressured to
compare his relationship with God to his sisters, but to allow God to work
uniquely in his own life. This is also something Nathan may want to speak to
his pastor about later.
Suddenly Nathan spilled the whole story of what had been troubling him.
Mothers patience paid off. Nathan was finally ready to tell her
what was on his mind.
When he was in bed the night before, he had become very much afraid. He
sensed Gods presence and felt that God was telling him it was time for him to
join the church and be baptized. He thought of lots of things he had done in
his life that were wrong, and he feared that he would not go to heaven if he
died. Nathan had been to church ever since he was born, and he knew that bad
people dont go to heaven. He also knew that he had to do something but he wasnt
Mother explained that just because he had always gone to church, this didnt
make him a Christian.
She told Nathan that God is fair and that people must pay for their sins.
But God gave us a wonderful gift by sending His son Jesus to pay for our sins
with His life. Mother told Nathan that he could become a Christian by asking
Jesus into his heart. She assured Nathan that God would forgive his sins and
give him eternal life, then Nathan would never have to be afraid again. He
would begin to live for God and not for himself. Nathan would still make
mistakes in the future, but God would help him recognize these mistakes,
forgive him and help him to do better. God would lead him as long as he put God
first in his life.
Earlier, Nathan had said bad people dont get to go to heaven.
Later, at a more appropriate time, Mother should address the fact that mistakes
(sin) often make us feel as if we are bad and the importance of asking God to
forgive us when we sin. Then God washes away the bad in us.
Mother reminded Nathan of ways God had shown His love for him and their
family. She assured him that God would continue to bless and take care of him
if he lived for God.
Nathan and Mother went into his room. He got up on his bed and Mother knelt
down beside it.
Nathan prayed to God, praising and thanking Him for all His blessings. He
then asked God to forgive him of his sins, to come into his heart and stay
there forever and help him to do what is right. Nathan prayed a beautiful
prayer from his heart, and when he finished, he looked at Mother and said, I am
This is one of the most precious times a parent and a child can
experience on this earth!
He smiled a big peaceful smile, and Mother rejoiced in her heart. She knew
that Nathan had just made the most important decision of his life. Then she
prayed, thanking God for what had happened, asking God to forever lead, guide
and bless her son.
Mother cried as she prayed, because she was so happy and thankful.
Mothers tears of joy helped Nathan realize what a special time
and occasion this was.
After her prayer Nathan talked about what it would be like in heaven. He
said he wanted to hug Jesus and tell Him, Thank you, thank you so much! Nathan
told his mother he was glad he would see his family in heaven, because all of
them trusted Jesus.
Mother was proud of her son, because he had listened to God. She told him he
must always stay close to God by reading his Bible, praying, going to church
and asking Mom or Dad or his pastor any questions that he had. This is a
Christian walk, she explained, and as Nathan grew in his love and knowledge he
would come to understand Gods plans for his life.
Good. Its important for Nathan to realize that his relationship
with God must continue to grow. Just as it was his decision to accept God into
his heart, its also his decision as far as how much he wants to grow in his
walk with God.
The following Sunday, Nathan walked down the aisle and joined the church. A
few weeks later, his grandparents came from out of town to attend his baptism.
They had a party at Nathans house afterward to celebrate his decision to follow
The family celebration showed Nathan how important his decision
was. One thing families need to keep in mind is that this type of celebration,
if its done for one child, must also be done for the rest of the children in
the family when they make the decision for salvation. Consistency is very
Nathan told his guests that he was excited about beginning a new life as a
Christian, trusting God and not being afraid anymore. He was sure that one day
he would go to heaven, because he was saved!
Brenda K. Wagner is Nathans mother.
She and her family live in Alpharetta, Georgia.
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