Recently, I had the unique opportunity to walk a few blocks through downtown Dallas with Roger Lamb. We had met several times over the years but never really had the chance to get to know each other. As we walked he asked me about my family, to which I replied, "That's a long story." Normally when you hear someone make that statement what follows isn't always pleasant, but in our case this could not be further from the truth. Ours is a story of incredible faith, persecution, perseverance and transformation that spans over a period of 30 years and counting.
I was baptized in 1988 on the campus of Arizona State University at the age of 20. Needless to say, my radical changes did not sit well with my family. I was persecuted on a regular basis. My sisters accused me of being in a cult and ridiculed me for my commitment even though they considered themselves spiritually-minded people. My mother, who grew up in a godless family, was pretty ambiguous about my spiritual activities and my stepdad would simply say "You do your thing and I'll do mine." Through all of this I still prayed that God would open their hearts and come to know him. And he did just that!
Within three years my oldest sister Jennene would make Jesus Lord and I finally felt like I had a partner in my faith. A year later my youngest sister Cristine was baptized and less than a year after that my middle sister Corinne was baptized. Each of us had been converted by the faithful disciples in the Phoenix Church of Christ.
Soon after, the three of us moved away from Phoenix. Jennene to Washington state with her husband. I moved to Los Angeles to start my own family and Cristine to Houston with her husband whom she had married prior to her conversion. His name is David.
David was a bit of an intellect and didn't buy into the whole God thing, but my sister wouldn't give up. Though his atheistic position was challenging for my sister, she persevered as did the brothers in the Greater Houston Church. Soon David would make Jesus his Lord which we all hailed as a miracle. God is faithful and he wasn't done with my family.
Since then, David and Cristine have seen their three children make Jesus Lord: Emily, Eleanor and Sam. My wife Joy and I have baptized our oldest daughter Alexa and most recently, my son Garrett, after a long process of discovering God for himself, was baptized into Christ. My youngest daughter Mikaila, who has the softest heart of us all, is currently studying the Bible.
Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is the fact that my dear mother, after watching her own mother pass away, decided that she needed to know Christ. With the help of the women of the Phoenix Church, she was baptized in Seattle. Sounds funny, I know, but she flew up to Seattle so she could be baptized by me, surrounded by the Seattle Church of Christ disciples.
Remember my stepdad? Don has always been that one person in my life that I was certain would not bend the knee to Jesus. But God is greater than any of my doubts, and to the surprise of the entire family he began to study the Bible with Mike Taliaferro in San Antonio's Mission Point Christian Church. He was baptized into Christ just a short two years ago. Jesus is Lord!
Finally, I speak now to whomever has been faithful for any period of time. I know what it is to grow tired of waiting, tired of praying and tired of wondering when will they ever respond. You look around and hear stories like this and maybe feel forgotten or unheard. I want to say this: God hears you. He knows your heart's desire and more importantly he wants what you want too. He loves them more than you can even imagine and is always working to win their hearts. There are still members of our own family who we have been praying for who still have not desired to know Christ and others who have wandered away from the faith. Like you, we too are still in the battle to evangelize our family. Don't ever give up.
For my family, it has taken nearly 30 years and five different churches in our fellowship to make that eternal difference in our lives. When I think about all of my brothers and sisters in these churches that have been used by God to reach my family I am humbled beyond words. Truly we are all the family of God.
To him be the glory.