My Grandma passed away last week. I didn’t know her all that well. She lived in Kansas, where I was born, but before I was a year old my family moved to the Pacific Northwest and I’ve been on the West coast my entire life. I would see her occasionally, probably once every 3 or 4 years, but it’s probably been around 6 years since I last saw her. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral or be back there to support my Dad during this difficult time. I can’t honestly say that I have had that difficult of a time with her passing, I didn’t have much of a relationship with her but I have had a difficult time in my empathy for my Dad and his loss.
I say all of this, not to show how heartless I am but because there’s more to the story. As I have thought, over the past week, of who my Grandmother was and who my Dad has become I realized something. My Grandmother had no faith or religion. In fact, when my Dad decided to go to Bible College to pursue his calling into ministry, my Grandfather and Grandmother cut off his financial support simply because they didn’t think that being a minister was a career. While thinking about this history my heart did break at the fact that my Grandmother never came to know how gracious and loving Christ is. She was never evangelized to. Is this my fault? Sure, I bear some of that responsibility that as a Christ-follower and a pastor, I never took the time to talk to my own Grandma about Jesus. Does my Dad have some of the burden? To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know if he ever talked to her about Christ. One thing I do know is that she was bathed in prayer.
This realization brought about the thought that the way I have perceived evangelism and conversations about Christ have all been in regard to younger generations and our responsibilities. We have largely neglected looking at evangelism for our older generations because we buy into the myth that during that time Christianity was more prevalent and therefore it’s not as urgent of a need. Old people need Jesus too, and not all people who are 60+ know him. The amazing thing is that I believe our older generations truly value story telling. Just think about the last time you were with a Grandparent and they would tell stories about their past, they love stories. We love stories. Christ was a story teller and lived the greatest story of all time. This common ground opens up an opportunity to share Christ with older generations because everyone can tell a story and everyone loves listening to a story.
We, as younger generations, have a responsibility to take care of the aging members of our society and young Christ followers have a responsibility to share the amazing story of Christ with them. Don’t bear the burden of wondering if your loved ones, in particular your Grandparents ever knew Christ.
(The picture is of my Grandfather and I, he passed a few years ago. He was a truly devoted man of God.)