In the May 2017 issue of Christian Standard magazine there are two news items that have affected me personally. Both are tributes to ministry leaders I have known who have passed away.
Mike Grooms was the preacher at the church in Northern Kentucky where I was a part-time youth minister while I was studying at Cincinnati Christian University; he was a great model of a preacher and a great encouragement to me throughout my own ministry. Mike and his wife Enise served in ministry in the US and as missionaries to eastern Europe, and Mike preached until he passed away last fall. There is a scholarship fund in his name to fund the education of preachers at Zimbabwe Christian College.
Eleanor Daniel, PhD, was one of my professors of Christian education at CCU, and she taught throughout her life at several other Christian colleges and seminaries in the US and around the world, including Austria, the Philippines, and India. She literally wrote the book on Christian education, actually several books and training programs that have been used in many of our brotherhood churches over the past thirty-plus years to train Bible school teachers.
I am certain that Mike and Dr. Daniel led hundreds of people – more likely thousands – to Christ, if not directly, at least indirectly through an on-going legacy of faithfulness passed on through generations of Christians. It is interesting to me, then, to note that the May 2017 issue of Christian Standard focuses on families and how Christians and churches minister to ever-changing families. I find it interesting because if there is any place where any individual will leave a legacy, it’s in the family.
Not all of us can be preachers or missionaries or seminary professors, but each of us has a family, and therefore, each of us has a ministry field where we can and must leave a legacy. Psalm 78:2-4 tells us:
I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old – what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
This is the pattern we received from the Old Testament, and it continued into the New Testament. Paul reminded Timothy of the source of his faith in 2 Timothy 1:5: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” While we often think of evangelism as sharing the Gospel with other people out in the world, for most of us, our faith begins at home, and it is passed on through the family.
Why would any of us remember the names Lois and Eunice if not for the ministry of Timothy? If they had not shared their faith with Timothy, how many people of the first century would not have heard the Gospel of Jesus? Perhaps we would not have these letters that Paul wrote to Timothy. That’s the legacy of a faithful grandmother and mother; it’s the legacy of a faithful family.
So what’s your legacy? Will you share your faith with your kids? Your grandkids or even great-grandkids? Maybe you’re not a parent or a grandparent; maybe you’re an aunt or an uncle who can share your faith with nieces and nephews who need to know Jesus. Yes, we need help for VBS and for our nursery and for Sunday school and for other areas of ministry, but don’t forget that your spiritual legacy begins with the family.