22 Oct The Impact of Families . . .
A couple moved into a new house on their transfer to a town. One morning while having breakfast, the lady saw her neighbour drying the washed clothes on the clothesline. This woman said to her husband, “It looks like she doesn’t know how to wash clothes well, or may be the washing powder is not good… or their washing machine may be old.”
Her husband looked on but remained silent.
The next day also, she made the same comments while her neighbour hanged her washed clothes.
After one week this woman surprised to see that her neighbour’s clothes were well washed and hanging outside. She said to her husband, ‘Look! she learned to wash well’. The man replied,
‘I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows’
This is how our perception matters.
During this pandemic situation, how we percieve people matters. God requires of us ‘empathy’ rather ‘sympathy’ towards our neighbours. Let our homes be the nursery where godly values are nurtured and also a channel of blessing for others around us. Every home should become a little church, where people come to praise God for His wonderful deeds and to pray for their sorrowful situations.
Last Sunday, our church conducted the Holy Eucharist in a new way in this pandemic situation. In a live service our pastor prayed for the bread and wine. The instructions were given to all the members- ‘Every home should become a small Church; father should serve the bread and wine to the members of that family after the pastor’s prayer.’ So, in every home, the husband / father became a servant of God that Sunday. COVID19 changed the perspective and manner of The Holy Eucharist. To fulfil the Lord’s command every home became a small Church. This is wonderful.
‘Every Home a Little Church’ is a 300 year old concept. It was introduced and practiced very strictly by Puritans. They believed the father of the house should be the pastor ministering in his home, as ordained pastors minister in the church. One writer called home, “the seminary of the Church.” The Puritans even published elaborated manuals of family worship. If the father neglected the spiritual training of his family, he could be brought before the elders for Church discipline. If he refused to take proper leadership role, he could be debarred from the Lord’s table1. Such thoughts and ideologies may seem too extreme to us but our perspective is also important. It’s the matter of how we perceive family worship.
An exemplary believing family:
There was a family in 1st Century in Lystra (now it is in Turkey). They heard the gospel through Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey. In that family first convert was Mrs. Lois. Through her, Eunice her daughter was also converted. Eunice’s son Timothy also accepted Jesus. At the time of Paul’s second missionary journey he was a young believer. Because of Timothy’s reputation as a believer, he got the privilege to work with Paul, a great theologian. This small family of that pagan area produced a Bishop of the church at Ephesus.(2 Tim 1:5, Acts 16)and one of the first missionaries for Europe. What an impact of a believing mother and grandmother! They encouraged him to study the word of God (2 Tim 3: 14-15). He was the co-author of 6 out of 13 epistles of Paul. Open hearts and homes of believing families Open home is the hallmark of UESI, through which many students and graduates nurtured and encouraged to follow the Lord. A Christian home is a miniature Church. There should be singing, Scripture reading and supplication in that ‘Little Church’. It is the place where its members enjoy love, rest, privacy, a sense of security, and learn to play, pray and plan.
When we were students we were nurtured by sacrificial graduate families, where we learnt singing, music, interpreting the word, praying, how leading meetings, cooking, washing dishes, etc.
As students in Union Biblical Seminary, Pune we were mentored by Professor Dr Isaiah’s family. 15 to 20 students would meet on Fridays at their home. We sang songs, played instruments and read Scripture, after which Dr. Isaiah would share a small expository sermon. (at that time he was the only person who did Ph. D in Homiletics in India). Every little church (family) should have three essential practices:
Learn and teach songs of the Christian faith to the members in your little Church. This is not just a good advice, it’s a Biblical command. “Speaking to one another with psalms hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord…” (Eph 5: 19). God commands us to learn Christian music and to teach children. Singing with musical instruments is very beautiful. Christian children have a peculiarity they are inbuilt God given music sense. Encourage children to learn musical instruments. There are hymns, gospel songs and many contemporary choruses in English and even in local languages also. Sing to your children. Sing with them. Say the words and have them repeat after you. Use videos, song books to teach or to learn them yourself. This is doubly important in an age where the younger generation is turning away from good words to slang from peer groups. Many Christian icons learned many songs in their childhood. Charles Spurgeon’s sermons were filled with quotations from hymns. It is said that when he was young, his grandfather greatly admired the hymns of Isaac watts and his grandmother offered him a penny for every hymn he could recite perfectly. He memorised so many that she lowered the amount to half a penny.
When I was child my father bought a pictorial Bible from CLS, Hyderabad. That created my interest in the Bible. Then I thought myself, if I don’t read the Bible now in my student age I may not read the Bible in my life time. So I read whole Bible with much reverence. Bible stories are more interesting than movies. Our youth must read them to believe in God’s omnipotence. Whatever it takes, make sure your children hear and read the Word of God at home.
Supplication is a big word for prayer. We need to pray for our children and students and with them also. They need to hear us pray and then they should pray with us. When young, I feared much to pray before elders. Once when I was asked to pray in a group, I shivered, and could not pray, but after that I learnt. Supplication means not simply asking, it means begging earnestly. Supplication is not an option; it is our obligation. Our dear Lord commands us to pray earnestly in Luke’s gospel (Lk 18: 1-8).
We do not have to compare with other sin spiritual matters. Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy.” We should not let anything steal our joy of salvation. Believing families should see the world.
This little Church should see the world and should develop a global outlook. We are servants of God. That’s why we should train our children and students in singing, reading scripture and in supplication. We should move from the narrow mind of ‘my family’ to ‘the world is my family.’
In this COVID-19 time, children of Mozambique East Africa laid their hands on the maps of countries affected by the virus, and prayed with tears. Certainly, those children have a global outlook in their hearts and minds.
Young Churches in China sent more than 50,000 missionaries to the middle east with a slogan ‘back to Jerusalem.’ Now a days the concept of Church is changing, but concept of ‘That Little Church’ never changes. Now the world needs more impact of “Little Churches” than any time before in Church history. How we percieve the world matters.
Jason Battula is a teacher living in Chirala with his wife Sneha Latha and two college going children. They are actively involved in UESI ministries in Andhra Pradesh. Jason served as the honorary editor of UESI-AP’s state magazine Vidyarthi Jwala.