This weekend God has given our family such an amazing gift. I am SO EXCITED! Let me share the background and then we will get to the gift.
Last Friday night I went with a group of friends to the Women of Faith Christmas Simulcast in a nearby town. I was so looking forward to a fun night filled with friends, hope and a great spark of encouragement to start off the Christmas season.
The evening did not disappoint. Oh, it was so full of laughter, depth and love. There were so very many facets to the evening that left me inspired and encouraged. For the sake of time, today I am going to focus on one particular speaker and the heart behind what he shared.
Yes - it was a woman's event. Yes - it was mainly woman speakers and vocalists. As this speaker shared with great humor he has always been waiting to find a place for his "GIRLS" name to fit...Francis. Women of Faith it was. :) What a great sense of humor.
Francis Chan has been a favorite author / speaker in our family for about five years now. 5 years ago when Crazy Love came out our family was hooked. It started with my teenage daughter devouring it and was a quickly spreading fire throughout our household. He spoke so boldly and in complete truth. (Crazy Love and Forgotten God are must reads!)
The life this man has led by abandoning himself to God is something worth watching. If you love God you cannot help but be impacted by watching how he lives it out. It makes you want to start jumping and shouting out what the love of Jesus is really about.
The opportunity to hear him speak again was something I was really looking forward to. I had no idea he would touch on a topic that had been weaving itself inside and out, all around, discussions I had been having with friends and family lately regarding raising up our children to love Jesus and stick with him beyond high school.
You see - In the same time frame we have become aware of Francis we have also been introduced to some startling statistics. About 5 years ago we were at a National Awana Commanders Conference in Chicago, Illinois. They had just completed a survey analyzing the effectiveness of their ministry in comparison to some very disturbing findings. You see...
" According to Josh McDowell
Ministry, denominations are seeing anywhere from 69 to 94 percent
of teens leave the church after high school. Studies by McDowell,
George Barna and others reveal that just 10 to 15 percent possess a
biblical worldview. Christian colleges across the country report that Bible
knowledge among young people has diminished dramatically.
The next generation lacks the spiritual development to steadfastly follow
Christ in an increasingly post-Christian world. Even children who grow
up in Christian homes, go to church and participate in youth group are
abandoning their faith by age 19."
Knowing this they had to see if what they were doing was helping to address this call of distress in our Nation. Here is a link to get an email of the survey if you would like to read through it. Awana Survey Results. Trust me it is SO WORTH the time. Whether you participate in Awana or not - you will see the importance of being the spiritual leader in the home. You will be FLOORED just like the survey company was by the results.
So what we learned at this conference five years ago was the importance of living it out with your kids. We must be involved. We must be dedicated to being the spiritual leaders in the home.
We must make time to study the word and learn what it means. God would need to take the front seat. Awana will be the first to tell you that what makes the program work is not having a book - it is the family working together in completing it. So this fired us up and kept us spurred to stick with it. We would do what we could to help change the statistics in our Nation.
Let's skip forward five years. Here we are today. Awana still holds a big place in our family. Mission trips to Africa have now also become a regular occurrence for the olders in our family. We have been feeling pretty good about where are kiddos are at spiritually. Our two eldest are involved deeply in Missions. One is living in Tanzania as I write this. Both of our eldest girls LOVE and I do mean truly L O V E Jesus. Our younger two are involved in Awana. My husband and I are Commanders of our club. We are teaching them to value God's word.
Our youngest also are eagerly waiting until they get to go to Africa. They want so badly to meet everyone we talk about. Someday we do plan on taking them. Until then our kids pray for them and others around the world who are less fortunate. They not only have an awareness but a tugging on their hearts for those hurting in the world. Not bad right? We are doing okay.
Let's bring this thing to a complete STOP - Right ...HERE!
Who am I kidding? For the youngers these are words and thoughts. Not ACTIONS...
(By this point you are probably thinking - man this lady is jumping all over creation. Let's bring the point home chicka!)
Back to Friday Night with the girls and Francis Chan on the big screen LIVE. He begins by talking about the Love of God sending his Son to earth for us. AMAZING LOVE! After awhile he moves the story into the statistics of teens when they leave the nest. 80% of Christian kids will walk away from their faith.
8 out of 10 kids will walk away from God.
(now you see this coming together right?)
Francis goes on to say that he wonders if these kids and their parents are LIVING IT OUT that the children are experiencing God. He went on to share how his daughter is getting ready to leave the nest and he is totally okay with it. He knows her faith is her own.
Listen to this precious story he shared about his daughter. She was going to a local burger shop when she passed a homeless women outside the entrance. She asked the woman if she could get her something - to which the woman replied yes. When his daughter brought out the food she asked to sit with the woman while they gobbled their burgers. So she did. His daughter then begins to share the gospel with this woman. Have I mentioned yet his daughter is 15 years old? Well - as out of the norm as this is for the average 15 year old, this is quite common for the daughter of Francis Chan. This is their norm. This is what their family does.
This is living it out!
Let me share the rest of this story because it will warm your heart and encourage you! This homeless woman said to his daughter (I am sure I am not word for word here) "You know as you were walking up I remembered this guy who was talking to me awhile ago about a ministry I should check out and I couldn't remember the name the guy told me. As you were walking up I was thinking about this again." Francis' daughter replies..."Ummm - the name wasn't Francis Chan was it?" "YES! YES it was!!!" His daughter replies, "That's my Dad." Then goes into sharing about how this cannot be coincidence - this is God getting her attention.
This daughter was so INCREDIBLY excited about this appointment God had set up she was busting at the seams to share it with her Dad when she got home. And you can bet this homeless woman would not soon forget how God can show up in obvious ways when he is seeking you out!
This kind of faith doesn't happen by talking about it or reading about it. This kind of faith happens by DOING it, living it, experiencing it!
So I came home to my husband so pumped up. YES - we need to start taking action. It went something like this. "Honey our two youngest are not getting to go to Africa. and that is only a few weeks a year anyway. What we are doing is not enough. What are we doing daily. How are we living this thing out? At the end of our lives will we be like.. WOW so glad I spent a lifetime watching tv. WAY TO GO. I was all caught up on my season series. Right ON!!! Mission ACCOMPLISHED!!!"
So as my husband always is...the voice of reason spoke up. "So how do we do this?" My reply - "I don't care. In fact I don't think it is any one answer. It is about seeking God, listening and following. That is how it becomes your own. That is how you live it out - no matter where you are. That is how you KNOW HIM!"
...and so that is how our new family mission was formed.
It wasn't until Sunday that it was complete though. God gave us confirmation through the sermon. Our dear Pastor, Grant Fishbook, shared about Jesus being the:
Greatest Rescue Mission EVER.
The entrance of the manger with the purpose of the Cross.
Okay - it hit me right when he said it. YES - that is what our new family focus will be about. We will join in God's rescue mission. We will do our part on his team to reach the lost. How? However he wants us to in the moment. How would we start? Every day in the month of December we would take time to seek him as a family and be willing to do whatever he asked. We would hop in our car, pray, listen and start driving. We would go where we believed he was leading us - knowing he could speak to any family member to direct us. We would pray, feed, do an act of service, or whatever else he was leading us to do. It was a rescue mission and our Captain was the only one to know what he would ask of us in advance. We would practice being obedient even if it took us out of our comfort zone.
We have now shared this with our kids and they are pretty excited. At this point I think they are most excited about the unknown of the adventures. As we experience God they are going to be more and more excited about how God works so perfectly - orchestrating events like only HE CAN!
I will be posting our journey along the way. So keep checking back. Hopefully you will be inspired to seek God in a fresh new way in your walk with him too.
You, Lord God, have done
many wonderful things,
and you have planned
marvelous things for us.
No one is like you!
I would never be able to tell
all you have done.