Family faith-sharing tip:
Involve your children in praying regularly for your family members who don’t know Jesus yet. When you’re not sure how to respond to someone challenging in your family, try imagining that you’re sitting on God’s lap and looking at the person through His loving eyes. Seeing them the way God sees them can inspire you to work hand-in-hand with God to win them through His love rather than nagging or judgmental words.
- First Peter 4:8
- God wants to reach our unbelieving family members through our loving and forgiving responses to them. He can help us to love them even when it’s very difficult. We can keep praying for the miracle that they will come to follow Jesus too.
- Very large sheets of paper or the back of a roll of wallpaper
- Family photos (optional)
- Marker pens (felt pens)
- Removable sticky notes in case you need extra space to write on your family tree
- A jar of buttons or small stones
What you do:
- Work with your children to create a large family-tree picture, including as many of your family members as possible. Leave plenty of space around each person’s name.
- Help your children match any photos you have to the names of the people in your family, or they can draw pictures of them instead!
- Think of the different faiths and religions in your family—and those who don’t seem to have any faith in spirituality. Make a symbol for each religion and draw one symbol under each person’s name.
- Think about the different struggles, needs, and challenges each person in your family is facing. Write these on the family tree too.
- Think about the people you would most like to turn to Jesus and to follow Him. Put a red heart around their names.
- Brainstorm about the best ways of helping these family members experience God’s love through you, without saying anything about God unless they ask you directly. How could you help them and support them and let them know you love them? Think of some practical things you could do together and make sure you find a way to do them.
- Take turns praying for some of the people on your family tree.
- Each person need only pray one sentence prayer for each person, thinking of their needs and challenges at the moment, and thanking God that they are part of your family, even if they are hostile or challenging.
- Place a button (or stone) on the name of each person as you pray for them. (The buttons remind us that we want them to be connected to Jesus because buttons help connect our clothes together!)
As an adult you may need to ask God to help you begin the long process of forgiving those who have hurt you badly, even if reconciliation is not safe or wise. You may need to do this quietly on your own. Do ask for help and support from wise and experienced counselors and pastors if you are struggling with how to relate to a person who has been abusive to you in any way. Your local or conference family ministries leaders may be able to help you find the support you need.