EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was previously featured on chucklawless.com.
I was a follower of Christ for 36 years before my dad followed Christ. Eleven years after that, my mom turned to Christ at age 79 (after 47 years of praying). I make no claims here to have been a perfect witness to them in those intervening years, but here are some things I think helped nudge them toward Christ during those years.
If you have non-believing loved ones, perhaps these thoughts will encourage and help you.
- I never stopped praying for them. Several times during those multiple decades, it would have been easy to give up. I’m grateful, though, that the Lord didn’t allow me to stop praying.
- I realized my parents were not an enemy. To be frank, my dad and I had a rough relationship for many years. It was after God made clear from Eph. 6:12 (“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood”) that my dad was not an enemy that He helped me love him better—and pray for him to know Christ.
- I didn’t miss talking to them on their birthdays and Mother’s and Father’s Day. Even when our relationship was difficult, I was convicted to honor them whenever I could—and I was grateful for having done so when they turned to Christ.
- I prayed for other believers around them. My wife and I moved away from my parents’ city more than 25 years ago, but my believing brother and his family lived near them. I prayed that God might use them to reach our parents—and He did!
- I shared the burden with others. Wherever I traveled around the world, I asked believers to join me in praying for my parents. I’m convinced that God heard the prayers from around the globe.
- I prayed for their grandkids. My parents adored their grandkids. As the grandkids got involved in church and turned to Christ, I suspected they could say more to them than anyone else could. Their childlike faith was a powerful witness.
- I invited them into my Christian world. I was glad when my parents came to church for a special event, shared in my graduations or visited my seminary office. All these happenings made it easier to talk about faith.
- I tried to answer their questions. Dad was an avid reader and deep thinker. As he gained some interest in religious matters, he began asking questions. My mom’s questions were not as deep, but just as important. Even when I didn’t know the answers, I sought to find one for them.
- I turned to other folks to pray when I got discouraged. Sometimes I struggled after I’d prayed for years without an answer. In those times, I called others and asked them to join me in praying. It was always encouraging to do so.
God dramatically changed my parents, both who are with the Lord now. I pray you will see that same kind of transformation in your loved ones.