And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
I have long known these famous words of Paul and Silas to the Philippian jailer, but somehow have attached little weight to those last three words. I, and many Christians l believe, have grown up in environments which laid the most emphasis on reaching out to individuals – whether by one-on-one sharing or through gospel rallies. The result has been that both the evangelist and the new believers were not actively encouraged to lay hold of the exhortation that their households will come to faith as well.
Recently, I personally encountered a situation in my wife’s family in which the joy of the household coming to faith was experienced. Har Lee’s brother-in-law David had a severe asthmatic attack one night about three months ago that left him in a vegetative state. He and his wife, Chai Har, had recently retired and were looking forward to enjoying that new phase of life together. Chai Har and her three adult children were devastated as the doctor’s prognosis for recovery was not promising. Har Lee and two other Christian siblings living overseas shared the news with many Christian friends for prayer.
There were many visits by family and friends to the hospital bed for encouragement and prayer. A Christian couple involved in Chinese evangelism ministry, visited David. At his bedside, they shared the gospel with Chai Har and two of her children present. They opened their hearts to our Lord Jesus. They were also ministered to by Ps Pei Sen and his ministry team from YCKGH as Chai Har is Mandarin-speaking. The family soon came to a decision that they wanted the idols removed from their home. A service was arranged and Ps Pei Sen and his team assisted and led all members of the family to acknowledge the lordship of Christ and the idols in the home were then removed and destroyed.
David remains in hospital but has since that day, shown progressive signs of improvement. First his fever which plagued him from his admission to hospital left him; then he started responding to his wife and children’s presence and gentle words of encouragement; he recently was able to sit up with assistance, and even breaks into smiles and sheds tears. All these responses from him are nothing short of the miraculous. The family of new believers are experiencing the joy of communing with a living God and turning to Him for all their daily concerns. David’s problems are far from over, but where there was despair previously, there is now hope in the Almighty God who is watching over them. The difference we see in their lives is palpable and we are so happy for them. They have been sharing their new faith with David and we know the Holy Spirit is speaking to him even in his present condition.
I am aware of other instances in church where a whole family came to faith together, or shortly one after another. It is a great blessing as the whole family are able to encourage one another in the faith and the resultant witness to their extended family and friends is multiplied greatly.
What each of us can do is to extend ourselves in our outreach ministry. In addition to knowing our work colleagues and caring for them one-on-one, we can be concerned for their parents, siblings and extended families. We can build bridges by visiting them during festive events, show genuine care and concern in times of need, and earn the right to be heard by the whole family. In this way, one day we too may have the joy of seeing whole families coming to faith in Christ. May the Lord quicken and empower us in reaching households for Him.
God bless you,
Daniel John, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 16&17 November 2013)