“The future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home”St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortium 52
We could sense every eye upon us as we journeyed through the community pool. All eight of us … Lacy and I, and our six kids were most likely the only Christians in the park that day. Most of the Muslim families there had most likely never seen a family like ours.
Far too often we settle and resign as young families into the comfort of our homes. We say things like “surely we can’t take all the kids with us there … ” or “maybe we can we can serve in that capacity once the kids are older. ” So, instead we focus more on our careers, our children’s educations, and our retirement accounts, inevitably reducing our church participation to a one hour Sunday experience. And, as a father of six, believe me, I understand that even that obligation can feel like running a marathon at times.
A Light to the Entire World
Jesus tells us that we are to be salt and light in a bland and darkened world (Matthew 5:13-16). But how can we, as families, be Christ’s light to the world if we focus only on ourselves and fearfully become a family in hiding?
In our experience, being a family of eight in foreign missions has given us more opportunity to share the gospel than we ever dreamed of. It is God’s design for the family to mirror the very essence of God. Every opportunity, from walking through the airport as a family to having my children lay hands upon the lost, poor, and sick in prayer, has been prepared for us by the holy spirit who is the principal agent of mission.
The Holy Spirit is waiting, longing to use our families to evangelize a lost and broken world if only we would have the courage and humility to step out in faith. And, while the Holy Spirit is longing to use us, the world is longing to hear the goodness and truth of the gospel of Jesus.
Indeed, “the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2), so let us, as Christ says, ask the Lord of the harvest for more laborers. Let us also be not afraid to become the laborers Christ is calling forth from among us. Close to three billion people in the eastern hemisphere have never heard of Jesus. WOW! Millions of people in the Americas are in need of a deep re-evangelization.
I believe St. John Paul the Great is spot on and yes “The future of evangelization will depend in great part on the Church of the home.” So, now is the time for us as families to abandon our fears, and even our dreams, and take Christ to the world as a family. Don’t waste your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s pursuing riches that do not matter in the eyes of God, rather let us be like the man in Matthew 13:44 who found a treasure in a field and joyfully sold all he had for that one single treasure. Serving Christ and presenting him as our treasure to a lost and broken world is far richer in the eyes of God. Taking Christ as our treasure is how we become salt and light in the world.
Now Is the Time
“I tell you, brothers, the time is running out … ”1 Corinthians 7: 29
Soon (enough) our children will all be grown and out of the house. We will have a new array of alluring temptations to buckle us down and stay in the house. We will be “too old” for that ministry and we will have lost a step or two. Now is the time, and our families are the means by which Christ will present his gospel. A gospel that changes lives. Come, Holy Spirit.
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Phillip Douglas and his wife, along with their six children are full time lay Catholic missionaries currently serving in Southeast Asia with Family Missions Company. He is the author of Glorious Adventure: Discovering the Treasure of Taking Christ to the Nations and Finding the Father: Reflections of Grace, Mercy, and Healing in Fatherhood. To follow their journey please visit www.phillipdouglasbooks.com To learn more about becoming a full time lay Catholic missionary please visit www.familymissionscompany.com.
Images sourced from phillipdouglasbooks.com