by Andy Kizer
When our youngest son was preparing his family to move to Cusco, Peru, to establish a new congregation of the Lord’s church there, I was more than a little concerned. On voicing my apprehension to my beloved wife, she said, “Now, Andy, you can’t teach your children the importance of evangelism all of their lives and not expect them to do it when they are able.”
As much as I may not like to admit it, she is right…again. Her statement meant a lot to me, and it completely changed my thinking. Barton, his wife, Allison, and their son, Cole, have now lived and worked for the Lord in Cusco for more than one year and a half.
Evangelists are what we are. Evangelists are what we should be. Our Leader, our Savior, our Captain, said, “Evangelize!” “Go to the world,” He said. “Make disciples of all the nations” (cf. Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19). We have been and are going.
We cross the street and talk to our neighbors, and we are active in other countries, but how do we keep the fire burning brightly through the next generation?
How can we raise evangelistic children?
After questioning some young missionaries concerning why they do what they do, I was encouraged by their responses.
Barton, our thirty-year-old son in Peru, said that preachers in our home made a difference. Some of the many preachers who stayed with us during gospel meetings or had dinner in our home were missionaries, and all were evangelistic, gospel preachers. I hoped that such a practice would be a good influence on our four sons, but I didn’t know until now how much it really meant. Let us expose our children to active, evangelistic brethren.
Colt Mahana agreed. This 2011 graduate of Freed-Hardeman University plans to spend his summer in evangelistic efforts. When I asked him why, he said it was because he had been exposed to such opportunities in the past, and he liked those experiences. A brother introduced him to the prison ministry, one in which he thought he should be involved because Jesus will say to those on His right, “Inherit the kingdom…For…I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt. 25:34-36). “The prison ministry made me more spiritually minded,” Colt added. “The more I served, the more I wanted to serve.”
Heather Fortenberry is getting a degree in education at Freed-Hardeman, but she is seriously interested in evangelism. On two occasions, she has been to the nation of Honduras to teach children about Jesus. “The realization that so many don’t know the gospel makes one want to do something,” was her reply. The many reports she heard from the pulpit of her home congregation also influenced her.
Bible teaching, an appreciation for eternal souls, experience, and examples are helpful in rearing evangelistic children.
Go and tell. Go yourself to others and share the gospel with them. Take your children with you and give them the opportunity to be evangelistic. It will change their lives. Then go back home and tell others what God can do through the efforts of His children (cf. Acts 14:27).
We then will have children with missionary zeal.