• Paul Hargreaves

Becoming Faith Builders

Updated: Jan 7

I was the 3rd of 4 children in a loving “church going” family but it seemed that during my formative years our Christian faith was mainly going to church. As I look back I recognize that any faith I learned about was outsourced to this institution called the Church. I was taught Bible stories and we memorized verses where it all seemed like religious education. When I came to a point of crisis in my life as a college student I found that the God I learned about in my childhood Sunday School classes was actually there to help me personally. I came to a realization that a relationship with a loving, forgiving and caring God was what I desperately needed.

I made a life changing decision to attend a Bible School which helped me learn who God was and is in His Word. There, I was also led to the most amazing woman of God who I have now been married to for nearly 40 years and with whom I have been on a path of ministry with throughout our lives together. Faith in Jesus suddenly became much more than rules and regulations…Bible Stories to know and recall. I actually found there was the person of Jesus who wanted me to build a relationship with. I found in Him the most amazing love I desperately needed.

When each of our three children were born I started realizing how faith is learned. I was increasingly aware that our primary task as parents was to introduce our children to the reality of God's love and how to begin and maintain the most important relationship we could ever have.

When you see how much your children learn from you, it becomes increasingly clear that faith is an invaluable gift to be received, and we as their parents are the primary ones called by God to pass it on to them. We are here to know, love and serve God — to love and be loved — which is why we must teach our children the basics of faith in Him.

Our children are given to us to teach faith in Jesus as together we learn to love God. I also started realizing that children are also given to us so that we can be loved by them. I saw how my wife and I both learned to love God with childlike wonder and an inquisitive mind. Most parents know they have a responsibility to teach their children, but it's more difficult to remember that our children are also here to teach us and to help us learn about Jesus. Through our children, we gain an intuition of unconditional love, as well as a path to help us become more like Jesus and learn to love as he does. When our children look at us with devotion, they show God's love and mercy for us. And when they won't sleep as infants, or have tantrums as toddlers, or disobey us or get embarrassed by us when they are teenagers or college students, they're helping us learn to love with the heart of God, who loves perfectly and unconditionally.

To find Christ in the world today may seem impossible but know that we can introduce our children to seeing Him in lots of ways. We can show our children what it means to see Jesus in others, in His creation, in other followers of Jesus who live their faith whether it be by watching a service at home together or at a church service in person. Look for Jesus together in the poor and those in need around you.

Before becoming parents, we have many ideas about how to do things. But once children arrive, we may feel overwhelmed or discouraged. The task may seem too big for us on our own. That is the point God continues to make with us...His children. God wants us to be aware of His presence, to cling to an ever growing relationship with Him and know that He desires to help you parent the young lives He has placed in your care. After having done Youth Ministry for 32 years I see how foundational the years leading up to the teen years is in helping faith in Jesus stay alive and growing through those years.

Though at times we may feel like giving up in the face of COVID-19, God takes our efforts and can multiply them. In the miracle of the Jesus feeding the 5000, Jesus doesn't make a meal out of nothing; he takes the food people brought. When we say "yes" to him in our families and give the little we have, he makes it enough. He will give you what you need with what you have. Then we get to see miracles happen and faith grow in our families.

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