I don’t often share stories related to my children, partly because I have a reputation for being aggressive and horrible to uphold (so I am told) and schmaltzy posts about my kids won’t help. But it is also because my children are still only little and I really don’t want to appear like I am giving anybody any sort of insight into parenting based on what is happening at the minute with my relatively small children and, even up to this point, the general air of embarrassment I conduct most of my parenting under because of how bad a fist I seem to make of it.
I’m in no position to be talking about the keys to parenting, and don’t want to go very near to even looking like I am doing that. But this post isn’t really about my awesome parenting. It isn’t really about my children. It is more just about some ordinary things that happened. It is more about the church than anything else.
With our daughter, we have been going through the Everyone a Child Should Know book. Last night, we had a page on Richard Wurmbrand. The thrust of the section on him was that he wanted people to know Jesus back when the Romanian government were not super keen and he ended up in prison.
My daughter was surprised to hear that some countries weren’t very happy for people to follow Jesus. It simply hadn’t entered her mind that would be the case. She was even more shocked when I asked her if she knew anyone else who had been in that sort of situation. She hadn’t ever clocked on that one of our family members is on mission in one such country. Nor, seemingly, had it ever occurred to her that our church – which has a significant number of people from Iran (and a few other countries with a similar approach) – has quite a lot of people in it who have faced this sort of problem and that is why they are with us (remember that embarrassment at my barely passable parenting… that!)
We then had a long discussion about all the people in our church who came from these sorts of countries. She hadn’t realised all these people who speak a different language, and who look a little different to most the people in her school class, might be from a different country. Even less, that the government of their country might not like people worshipping Jesus. She was intrigued by that.
As we got to church on Sunday morning, she wanted to know who, exactly, was from Iran. So, I pointed out a bunch of people in the room from that country. She had asked what it was like in Iran, especially given people can’t worship Jesus. So, I told her to go and talk to one of our Iranian members and ask (outsource the problem, that is what good parents do, right?) So, she went and had a very productive chat, I am led to believe, with one of our Iranian deacons who explained to her a little about what his country was like and why he, and so many of his fellow countrymen, were now in Oldham. Many of them, ultimately, because they love Jesus.
What is the point of telling you this? Good question, glad you asked! What struck me was the discipleship at play. My not very brilliant discipleship of my daughter at bedtime created a training opportunity for her. My not very brilliant discipleship of my daughter created a training opportunity for one of our Iranian members. My daughter had remembered what I said the night before, wanted to go and talk to somebody from Iran to ask what living for Jesus there meant and created an opportunity for them to talk about Jesus and living as a disciple under serious persecution.
Had I tried to square all that off by myself as I ‘discipled’ my daughter, everything would have been much less effective. Fewer people would have engaged in that little bit of discipleship. My totally certain answers would have ended any further discussion. But that I suggested I didn’t know all the answers, even if a knew a little, meant that she went and asked somebody else who knew much more. That she went and asked the other person who knew far more about the particular questions than me, it helped that other person learn a little but about how to share their faith and testimony with somebody in the context of real life (even if it was just to an inquisitive little girl).
What lesson, then, are we to take from this? I think a similar lesson to one I was trying to share about evangelism as it pertains to courses. At the end of the day, don’t let the fact that you might do it sub-optimally stop you. Don’t let not getting it right stop you from having a go. We don’t need to complicate discipleship anymore than we need to complicate evangelism. If we know about Jesus and we know his gospel, we can speak about that with other people. Even when we don’t know stuff, there are things we do know and we are in churches where others may know what we don’t.
In the end, my not very good effort to disciple my daughter led to her speaking to someone else to be discipled even further, who in turn was trained in a bit of on-the-job discipleship as he sought to explain how the gospel impacted people from his country and how that was different now he was here in the UK. None of that would have happened were it not for me having a go at discipleship, even if poorly, and somebody else in my church having another go at it too. And so, if there is a lesson to be found here, it is surely in just getting on and having a go at talking about Jesus. Don’t let training and a desire for the perfect get in the way of just sharing what you do know. You never know how the Lord might just use it.