Updated: Jun 24
School Problems, Christ Encounters
Today’s post is super personal because it’s about my son. I am reluctant to write about my son outside of the confines of our close community, but my heart, in the Lord, has strong inclinations that our recent experience will be a blessing to someone else. If you are a follower of Christ and have children, you probably wonder what is the best way to help your child understand the gospel. This is probably even more true if you have ex-evangelical, post-evangelical, or anti-evangelical leanings. I think I fall in the post- evangelical camp, but I still have some evangelical views (as well as some anti-evangelical views). But as a deconstructing follower of Jesus, I am of course challenging those views that do not line up with my understanding of God and the scripture. I am challenging things that do not line up with the witness of the Holy Spirit in me (shout out to my pentecostal/charismatic background).
If your faith walk hovers anywhere near mine, you may have been a regular Sunday school and children’s church attendee as a child. You may have seen Carmen in concert (or Kirk Franklin), and experienced fiery, and dramatic presentations of the gospel. You were heavily indoctrinated in the reality of an eternal conscious torment type of hell. You were taught about the rapture, the tribulation, the mark of the beast, the last seven years of the existence of planet earth. You were taught the songs “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Jesus Loves Me”, but within that same lesson you were taught that it was a real possibility that you would spend eternity in hell if you didn’t repent daily of your sins and ask Jesus to forgive you. I could go on and on about this experience but that would make for an entirely new post.
But, this is about my kids- my youngest son in particular. It’s about how I make decisions-as a person who does not attend church services or send my children to children’s church- about how to share the gospel with my children. I knew quite long before I had children, that if I ever had them, I would introduce them to God differently than He was introduced to me. So, I want to share this journey with you. I’m not gonna lie, I have a little trepidation in this area because most of the time, I feel like a crap parent who is constantly making mistakes. But my weaknesses as a parent have forced me to cry out to God for help, and His strength is constantly being made perfect in my weakness. As a result, I have a ton of stories I can share with you about how God has helped me help my children see Him for who He is. Most of the time when I have the opportunity to share Christ with my children, it is by accident or happenstance. Usually, something has happened in our family life that leads them to ask questions. Both of my sons have always asked questions about life and God, and often these questions lead to Spirit led conversations. The story I share with you today is one such conversation.
There’s a backstory about an incident at school that I won’t fully disclose, but suffice it to say that my youngest son “K” was mistreated at school, and our family has been dealing with the emotional fallout from it for about a month. It caused him much anxiety, and me much anger and frustration because I was not able to protect him from being harmed. One of my biggest concerns was trying to understand what God wanted our family to learn from the situation. I just couldn’t find a rhyme or reason or a way to make sense of it. I even reached out to family and friends on social media for prayer and support- I was just that desperate. And then one day after work, this happened…
(The following portion is an account from my personal journal)
Questions and Answers in the Car Ride Home...
“I picked the boys up last night from mom’s house. Somehow we started talking about death on the way home. ‘K” asked me all these questions about it- would I be sad if he died? If my (AnDraea’s) whole family died and I was the only one left, how would I feel? Can’t we use a reviving potion to bring people back to life? Older brother “Jay” had similar questions and I basically told them that death really sucks and it would be my worst nightmare to lose them. I told them there’s no coming back from death. I told them that death is a sad but normal part of life and that many people lose loved ones. I used their dad as an example- he lost both of his parents while he was still a young adult. He also lost his best friend and his sister. He has experienced a lot of loss. I reminded them also of the story of Job and that losing a child is the most heartbreaking inconsolable thing that can happen to someone.
I told them that I prayed that they would have long healthy lives, but that death is a reality for everyone. I told them that pain is a part of life and there is nothing I can do as their mother to shield them from it at all times.
I used the painful school situation with K to demonstrate my point. (In school, K was mistreated by an adult employee in a manner that required a legal investigation. In the end, the authorities did not believe his story, and there was no justice in the situation for him. I did all I could as a parent to protect him and advocate for him. But in the end my efforts all failed.) I told K that I couldn’t protect him because I wasn’t there, and because it was not handled fairly, and that life would bring more pain that I can’t protect them from....BUT life is good! Living is good, life is full of joy and fun and good times. I told them that if they trust in God He would show them just how good life is even though it will still bring much pain. I encouraged them to allow God to use them to bring healing and peace into the world; that God is restoring the world and he will use people to participate in that restoration. I encouraged them to trust God and let Him use them to be a part of the healing. They really listened and took it all in…
About death, I told them no potion can be used to revive anyone (K’s idea), only God can raise people from the dead. Then Jay immediately brings up Jesus and how He was raised from the dead (Jay is already a professing believer and has been baptized). This was a clear open door for me to explain the gospel. So I reminded them that Jesus also died but death couldn’t defeat Him, because God raised Him from the dead. I told him that all who belong to Christ will also be raised from the dead at his return, and will have eternal life.
K resoundingly loved this idea and said that he believes in Jesus and wants to receive the gift of eternal life (I am paraphrasing his kid language). Then I told him that if he believed in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and that Jesus is Lord he could receive that promise. I asked Him if he believed and he said yes.
Now I know what I was supposed to learn from K’s painful situation at school....
God is so awesome.
God wanted to teach K (and indeed all of us) that pain is a part of life that no one can escape, but if we trust in Him He will bring us through it and show us just how good life is. God used this situation as a tool to bring home the message of the gospel to K- in the way that K can understand and receive it at this time.
So K has made a profession of faith. In the car….on the way home from Gramma’s house.
I asked him if he wants to be baptized….
And he said yes.
I’m not sure how to feel. I need more time to interrogate this situation to make sure it actually happened. It all happened so fast that I don’t want to misinterpret it. But I believe God is using this situation to reveal Himself to KJ.
What a day it was!
No, the problem with the school wasn’t solved (not yet at least). But my son is full of hope and healing and learning about how life works. And he’s ready to start trusting God to get him through it.
I couldn’t have asked for a better answer from God.”
And so that’s how I was able to help my son find God.
Although I know good and well that no one finds God, He always finds us. I also know that encountering God, or having Him reveal Himself to you, is not a one shot deal, but a life-long trek of exploration (think of the letter to the Ephesians and Colossians speaking of the unsearchable riches of Christ. It's kind of like that). I pray often for my children that God would reveal Christ to them. The words I use are, “Lord I pray that You would reveal Yourself in them, to them, and through them.” And, even though an unpleasant situation was at play, God used it to demonstrate His love and care for my little guy. It wasn’t only this one conversation, I’m sure. We have deep talks like this from time to time. But I believe that this one was for the books and will leave a huge impact on both of my children. But, again, it’s not a one time event, it’s a lifetime of walking, and watching and praying, and seeking the Kingdom. It’s a journey.
I want to share more about how I have been able to share the gospel with my children without them being a part of the institutional religious culture. As the Lord wills and provides, I will do so. I would love to hear some stories and feedback from any readers out there. Hit me up in the comment section!
P.S.- I am thinking about doing a “how to” post on sharing the gospel with your children. I think more and more parents need to take the primary responsibility for introducing their children to Christ. We can’t keep relying on institutions to enrich our children spiritually. And although I will never, ever claim to be an expert on this, I have seen God work in this area in my family. I’ll keep you all posted soon. -AnDraea
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