Last Friday, we went downtown. At night. To a kind of crowded outdoor event. Bands were playing. There were alot of sober… and not so sober people. A few smokers in passing. Police patroling. Bus riders waiting. Homeless people sitting. Us talking to people about Jesus. Their faith. What they believe. Distributing Jesus tracks. Oh, and by “we,” I mean my entire family… from the baby to daddy.
Yeah… I probably didn’t make the best “parent” decision. I mean… little kids? Past 8pm? In that kind of environment??
This isn’t anything new to our family though. We’ve done it before. But internally, I was struggling (again) with whether or not I/we made the right decision to take the boys out for street ministry (we made the decision together). I’m usually the only mother there, and as my husband talks to people, I pass out tracts and make very SMALL talk as I’m usually on “Mommy Duty”, keeping the boys engaged, the baby content and their surroundings safe. My husband glows when he’s out there, and I love seeing his excitement in sharing Jesus. Why distract him from that when I can hold down the fort… er, boys?
With every First Friday, I would see other people from familiar area ministries show up without their wives. Without their kids. The wives/moms were probably home or elsewhere with their kids- safe (safer than where I was anyway), away from the noise, crazy people, potential room for danger, smoke or whatever else could happen- so GUILT came. It riddled me even more when I saw the wife of one of the regulars come out with her husband… but without their kids… their kids who just happen to be the same age as two of our kids.
“Great. That’s it. I’m a horrible mom. See?! SHE didn’t even bring her kids! NOBODY brings their kids to do this stuff at night in this kind of environment. Nooo…”
Now, my husband & I did decide to take the boys. We believed it was a good opportunity to see believers active OUTSIDE of the building in a light/dark context. This is a part of what we believe is Biblical parenting. We are no strangers to Biblically-SOUND teachings about discipling and training children for the Kingdom of God. It’s been from my personal study of the Bible (forever ongoing) of what “Biblical Parenting” is, to reading and/or listening to messages from Francis & Lisa Chan, Craig Groeschel, Voddie Baucham, Ben Atkinson, Matt Chandler, Dr. James Dobson, Paul Washer, and many more that have really challenged us to parent Biblically. HOWEVER, with ALL of that, it doesn’t REALLY hit you to APPLY hard or uncomfortable parts of training or Biblical principles until you put yourself and your family on the battlefield… or in an environment like First Fridays downtown (…which compared to other places, probably isn’t that bad. But let me have my moment as a mom of 3 little kids lol).
I questioned God. I questioned my decision. I questioned if we heard Him correctly. I questioned my motherhood. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing or the wrong thing because I didn’t know or see people near me that I personally KNEW who were doing or had done the same thing. I DID feel God had given us the go-ahead… or did He? One thing I knew I felt was like a pioneer on a journey I had no map or support for. Alone. Unsure. I decided I just wanted to stay in the van – safe… comfortable. Until I heard our 3 year old excitedly say,
“Daddy, are we going to tell people about Jesus again?!”
Yep. My van-plans were ruined. I mean really… YOU tell a joyous 3-year old you’re staying in the van or going somewhere else instead of going with daddy to tell people about Jesus. My selfishness would’ve crushed great seeds of faith in his spirit. I won’t be responsible for that. I can’t.
I laid my wicked, evil heart before God as we walked to our corner, asking Him for grace and peace to know it was going to be okay. That regardless, I was in His Will, SOMEwhere Boy… did He answer my prayers in ways I NEVER could have imagined that night!
My fears, my doubts, my “I’m so alone” thoughts started to fade as I watched our sons courageously distribute Jesus tracts to people that passed by or were around listening to the message of the Good News of Jesus. They were never ill-treated or harmed. Turned down? Many times. But they kept energetically passing tracts out. My husband, myself and people from our church were with them, around them, near them. Encouraged them. They were never out of our sight. Even greater, I realized they were never out of God’s either. 🙂
With my husband taking over my post for the night, I was able to go with my sister in Christ on a bike ride & share Jesus with the bicyclist this past Friday. When we returned to the corner, the greatest opportunity awaited me as God used our sons- the ones I wanted to keep home and away from the night life- to draw two girls and a guy to my husband and I. Our sons (and my very blunt “Good Sex only happens in marriage” shirt) led to one of the most powerful and sincere God-encounters I’ve had in a long time with one of those young ladies. Now… this was definitely a long, uncomfortable conversation (my husband took the boys for a walk away from us at one point lol). Yet, it was also beautifully honest and set-up only by God. My husband even got to connect with the young (and quite respectful) man that was with them. And to think… if I and the boys had stayed in the van or not come at all, I never would have met her. Challenged her faith to believe again. Reminded her of the jealous love of Jesus. And personally experienced the power of God & His love as much as I did that night. Still do.
Naturally, we as parents want the very best for our children, from provision to safety. We don’t want to ever put them in situations or circumstances that may present harm or endangerment of their lives. Not purposely anyway. We want to protect them within our ability to do so by choosing what they do, where they do it, when and with who. However, our best protection with its great intentions becomes the greatest wall in their life… the greatest obstacle hindering them from the greatest ways God has for them. I wonder… is our “best” for our children in the way of God’s calling on their lives?
“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:13-14
Are our fears or comfort zones or ways we were raised or personal beliefs that are not Biblically-based stopping our children from truly experiencing Jesus for themselves?
I know or at least have a good idea of God’s purpose for our sons, purposes that often overwhelm me because it takes a training I often feel SO inadequate in providing. But, what if in the simple obedience of things God ask me & you as parents to do, He inadvertently gives us the perfect way to “train them in the way they should go”? Uncomfortable or maybe inconvenient, what if that “request” or opportunity to go somewhere or do something “abnormal” or different was the training? For us, it wasn’t about us giving our boys scripts to say or recite. I wasn’t DEMANDING them to pass out tracts to certain people a certain way. I didn’t know what to do besides make sure they were safe. I don’t know what it will produce in the end. Boldness? Courage? A habit? Who knows! I just know NOW that everything worked out for God’s glory at the end of the night for a couple of people. And I’m praying that included our sons down the line.
My husband and I don’t take lightly these times of street ministry. We’ve prayed over the boys before we go and anointed them & prayed again when we leave- over them & our home. There have been spiritual battles but none undefeated or able to turn us. And that just tells me maybe… just maybe, in the midst of my flawed faith, wicked heart and insecurities… we’re where we should be.
Am I saying do exactly what we did? No. I’m saying do what God says. I’m simply saying obey Him… His Word. You know in your heart if you are completely obeying Him or just doing what’s within your realms of comfort. We kinda always know.
So, to some… maybe taking my young ones out to First Friday street evangelism wasn’t a “good parent” decision. You don’t agree with it. I’m not sure if the kids will go every.single.time. as we have. But one thing I know for sure, from what I saw this past Friday, despite it all, it was definitely a great “God” decision I’ll never regret obeying.