My oldest daughter soaks up everything. At three years old, Anna can write her own name, sing the Zacchaeus song, and enthusiastically chant the fight song for her parent’s beloved Georgia Bulldogs. The soil of her heart is soft; seeds of love, hope, and compassion spring to life with ease.
It makes perfect sense why God challenged his people, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, to teach their children diligently who God is and what He commands. There is little doubt that my wife and I will help shape the way our daughters view the world and what they think about God. As a result, we have purposed to cultivate a Great Commission focused home where the gospel of Jesus Christ is interwoven into our daily lives. I wish I could say that this comes easy but, like anything else, it requires intentionality.
We have read the Bible to our girls since they were able to sit in our laps. Our greatest desire and most heartfelt prayers are focused on our girls coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A little over a year ago, though, we began asking whether this was enough. We certainly want to teach our girls that the message of the gospel is for them but we also want them to know that the gospel is for others and for the nations. My wife and I began to wrestle with this idea and how we could intentionally plant the seeds of love and compassion for others within our girls.
We started this journey last Christmas by throwing a birthday party for Jesus, complete with a birthday cake, ice cream, and our very own rendition of “Happy Birthday” Jesus. During the party we took time to pick out items from the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog that we could send to people in need. Anna was beyond excited and we spent time talking about why Jesus came and how we could help share his love with others around the world by buying things like blankets, Jesus dolls, and mosquito nets. We prayed for the people that would receive these items, that they would hear the gospel message and come to experience Jesus’ love personally.
Our next intentional step was taken over the summer when my wife and I chose to sponsor a child through Compassion International. We talked about how this could, once again, demonstrate God’s love for the nations in a tangible way. Anna was not with us on this trip but after coming home we took time to tell her what we were doing and why. Our sponsored child’s name is Sabine and we pray for her every night. Anna has a picture of Sabine on a bulletin board in her room, colors her pictures almost weekly, and reminds us to pray for her each and every day.
After taking these steps we began to think of a way to emphasize God’s love for the nations on a daily basis. A Student Pastor friend recommended working through Window on the World: Prayer Atlas for All because it details different people groups that need to hear the message of the gospel. We ordered this book and reading it has become part of our nightly routine. Anna loves looking at the pictures and it gives us a chance to talk about and pray for unreached people groups and missions efforts around the world.
We don’t have it all figured out but we are seeking to intentionally plant seeds of love and compassion for others into the hearts of our girls. We trust and pray that God will water them!