As promised, here is a testimony of one of our own Karori Baptist church grandparents. This I have found has challenged me as a parent too.
As we discussed the approaching visit of our youngest grandchild, my Spiritual Director suggested that being a grandparent is “a ministry” and I think this is an excellent attitude for us grandparents to have. We have a unique opportunity to speak positively and thoughtfully into our grandchildren’s lives.
Our grandchildren (3) are being raised in an actively Christian home so we are fortunate in that our role is just to encourage their spiritual walk and demonstrate in our own lives the values and beliefs they already hold.
“God” is a normal part of our conversation when they individually visit for a week during the school holidays and when we travel to Auckland to spend Christmas with them. We acknowledge God in giving thanks for daily blessings (not just before meals) and discerning his presence in ordinary events. In these latest school holidays it was the turn of our youngest grandchild Ben (9) to come and stay. One day we were waiting for a bus in Lambton Quay when a thin, unkempt, homeless man searched through the nearby rubbish tin. He found a partially eaten hamburger which he quickly closeted under his tatty coat. I passed him a $5 note which he took with a quiet “thank you” and went on his way. Ben hadn’t seen the man fossicking in the bin and asked “what did you give him money for?” I explained what had happened and asked him “How do you think God feels when he sees that?” Ben replied thoughtfully “sad”.
At Christmas time part of their gift from us is always a card (usually World Vision) acknowledging the financial gift equivalent for the purchase of a goat, a pig, a bicycle or some other article that is meaningful to that particular grandchild. This helps them see how important it is to share God’s gifts with the poor and exemplifies the real meaning of Christmas.
We also purchased the Action Bible which immediately captured Ben’s attention as he checked out familiar bible stories. Hopefully the ‘comic’ genre will facilitate reading the Bible, just for enjoyment, in their free time.
We try to avoid any manipulation in using God as a judge to influence behaviour but rather stress God’s pleasure in them when they choose ‘the right’. Without spiritualising everything it is indeed a privilege to alert them to God’s presence and love at any and every opportunity.