If only every family were like the Richards’* family.
“It was in 1965 that my sister and I first trusted in Jesus at Sunday School. Then my mother came to church and she believed. It took a while, but finally my father came with us… he heard the message, and also trusted in Christ. God brought our entire family to salvation and now, three generations later, dozens more have been added.”
When someone understands and believes the good news, their relatives, quite naturally, are affected. When the Philippian jailer believed in Jesus for his salvation, that very night his household also heard the Gospel, were identified as believers, and were baptized (Acts 16:31-34). Testimonies like those of the Philippian jailer and the Richards’ family still happen today. Unfortunately, though, it’s not always the case. Countless believers live each day with the heartbreak of knowing their own loved ones have, for one reason or another, not accepted the Bible’s message. Family relationships are complicated, and sharing the Gospel with family can be risky and discouraging.
Encouragement from God’s Word
If you have relatives who, to your knowledge, are not believers, don’t lose heart! God’s desire is that they will come to a knowledge of the truth and repentance (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Be encouraged and pray earnestly for their salvation. Invite others to join you in praying for them. This is a spiritual struggle against an enemy who is fighting against the Lord’s will. It is a battle that is to be engaged in through prayer (Ephesians 6:12).
Practical, Prayerful Ideas
As you pray, ask that God would help you have good ideas as to how to show love to your unsaved family members. If there have been disagreements in the past, perhaps the Lord would have you ask for their forgiveness for any offense you may have caused. Or, he may bring to mind a unique need that you can fulfill. You might have opportunity to spend time with them, helping them with a project. Allow your actions to speak louder than your words, all the while, pray for yourself so that you will have courage, patience, and readiness to speak when the time is right.
When to Speak
It’s not always easy to discern if your loved ones are open to hearing the gospel or not. Scripture teaches us to be ready and not pounce on our loved one. “… Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3;15). We are asked to be ready to answer but at a time of your loved ones’ choosing, not yours. You’ll know the Lord has used your gentle, and respectful gestures to soften their hearts when they come right out and ask you why it is that you have such hope. Their inquiry might happen quickly, or it may take many years of extending grace to your family. But when they finally do ask, it makes all the prayers and effort entirely worth it. The time is right. The Spirit will intercede for you and help you be ready to share the life-saving message of salvation with your loved ones.
Who knows, perhaps the Lord will use you to start a story in your family just like the Richards!
(* Names changed according to GoodSeed policy.)