Yesterday I shared the amazing story of my father coming to Christ at the invitation of my son Dylan. Today I'd like to tell you a little bit more of the story.
Dylan has always been one of those kids with an opinion. He has a heightened sense of justice, which often causes him to see things in black and white. Here's an example of how his personality revealed itself even at an early age.
Eight years ago, when Dylan was seven, we lived across country from my parents, and I recorded a conversation we had in the car. Dylan had earned excellent grades on his report card and we started talking about what he would be when he grew up. He wanted to be an architect. But here's what he said after that:
"But I'm going to be something before I'm an architect, I'm going to be a missionary. I'm already a missionary! I'm a missionary to Grandpa. I want to send Grandpa a Bible."
I asked him which Bible. Dylan said, "The one I take to church every week." I said I thought it would be a good idea, and it would also be good when we get back to Phoenix for Dylan to spend time with Grandpa and tell him little bits about Jesus. To which Dylan replied in a surprised, and dramatic voice, "Little bits?!" Little bits?! A missionary wouldn't tell little bits about Jesus to someone!"
We returned to Phoenix, and Dylan's witness of being faithful in attending church, loving Jesus, and in our praying for Grandpa never diminished. Every night my husband and I prayed (and still do) with our children as we tuck them into bed, and every night, we prayed for my father to come to know Jesus.
Flash forward five years. Dylan is sitting beside his dying grandfather's bedside. I'll never know exactly what Dylan was thinking. He'd prayed every night for Grandpa his entire life, so tonight was no different. Only this time the stakes were higher.
With the boldness of a child, he invited his grandpa to accept Jesus. Dylan pleaded with him in fact. And at the invitation of a precious child, my father, Richard Edward Owens, nodded yes to the most important decision of his eternity.
I am so thankful Dylan was taught to pray. Not only by us, but by the many children's ministry leaders who have helped him grow in his faith. I think of my friends Dean and Becky Smyth and so many others who volunteered to help teach children's church and Sunday School at Bethany Presbyterian when Dylan was just a toddler. I think of my friends at Southbrook in Charlotte, and my friends now at the Vineyard, like Jody Kingston and Mike Denk who work full time teaching kids what it means to be an extraordinary follower of Christ. I wish I could go back and hug each one of you who sacrificed an hour to teach my son how to pray. Look what happened because of your faithfulness.
So, let me wrap this up by telling you what Dylan said at the graveside service. My father was a Korean War veteran, and the only service we had for him was at the cemetery, and he received full honors. We did have a pastor say a few words, and he asked if anyone wanted to say anything. After a moment of awkward silence, Dylan stood up and walked forward. He was shaking, and obviously struggling to hold back tears, as he recounted the night he sat by Grandpa's bedside. Dylan said something like this, "I told him, 'Grandpa, if you don't accept Jesus before you die, you're going to hell.'"
Right there at the grave site I actually had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Of course it wasn't funny. But in the stress of the moment, I laughed at my own misinterpretation of how that night went. I imagined a gentle invitation. Where had my son come up with that? We had NEVER attended a church with teachings that direct. But on the other hand, we had never hid the truth either. Dylan cut to the bottom line.
Children can reach people we never can. Children pass sweetly through defensiveness and pride. They understand messing up, because they mess up a lot. They are non-threatening. But they are mighty and effective warriors for Jesus.
Let us never underestimate the time spent teaching a child in the ways of God. They will reap a harvest if we only help them learn to plant the seeds.
In His Love,