The secret of building families to last is found in Kari’s emphasis on parents modelling the Christian life before their children. If the mother and father— who are responsible before God for what happens in the home—are not walking with God, and not walking in harmony with each other before God, how can they become models to their children? Hence this modelling has to start with choosing a life partner with the same foundation in life and faith and loving obedience to Jesus Christ.
Then, when the children come, the modelling continues with parents who practice the disciplines of private prayer, Bible study, public worship, special retreats to listen to God, and celebrations of thanksgiving for God’s goodness to us.
It is in the home—rather than in the church where they may spend only two or three hours a week—that children become Jesus’ disciples.
Kari illustrates this modelling process both from her own childhood with missionary parents in China, and from her years in the Philippines where she and Bob raised their children. From experience she sees that modelling can’t take place if children and parents are not united in spirit and in goals.
Family togetherness has to be intentional. It will not just happen. This means having meals together, with devotions at breakfast and prayer and a Bible story at night
It means family outings each week, as well as vacations, to enjoy each other’s presence and have open dialogue between parents and children about life’s joys and sorrows.
As children grow up today in a world of turmoil and cruelty, they will soon realize that love reigns in the security of the home. The enemy is without for these children, while for those who live with parents who fight, the enemy is within.
Another form of the enemy within is the loneliness experienced by children who spend hours at home without their parents. Children are the victims who pay the price for the lifestyle that demands that both mother and father have to work full-time to pay for it.
The final challenge of Kari’s book is to carry both the modelling process and family togetherness into the area of ministry. She illustrates this challenge from her own experience with her children when she was a missionary in the Philippines. But the same principles she discovered can also apply to work in one’s own home, church or community. Whether parents are in a professional or volunteer ministry, that ministry can become a threat to the children if they are not included. Anything that takes parents away becomes an enemy.
On the other hand, the home-centered ministry (with needy families or groups like foreign students coming to our homes) offers a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to be involved. Here we will not only reach others with the Good News, but we will model a lifestyle of concern for those beyond the four walls of our home.
In the process, we will discover that our children will be the best missionaries “for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”