Passing the Hope of Jesus to the Next Generation
By Amanda DeWitt
In these uncertain times family and faith feel more precious than ever. We want to hold our loved ones tight. We want to help those closest to us navigate the uncertainties they feel — teaching them to trust the One who holds their present and has plans for their future.
So how do we pass on a solid faith to those we love? Meet Gladys (pictured below). Her story gives us inspiration and instruction for how we can share the hope of Jesus not only during trying times, but especially in the ordinary, day-to-day activities that mark so much of our lives.
Gladys visits an Unto™ vision clinic.
Practice Your Priorities
Gladys just wanted to read her Bible. Over time her eyes had deteriorated to the point that she struggled to make out any of the blurry words. When Unto team members visited her rural Ugandan village to host vision clinics and distribute eyeglasses, Gladys came to receive assistance.
For Gladys reading her Bible was a priority. And she was willing to do whatever it took — even if it required a long and difficult walk — to receive a new pair of glasses. Our staff members report that people often walk for miles, and sometimes all through the night, to get to a vision clinic hosted by our local partners. Even after arriving at a clinic, the wait time could be several hours until it is their turn to have their vision checked and to be fitted for a free pair of eyeglasses.
Gladys’ dedication should inspire each of us. What do we prioritize most? Are our priorities reflected in our actions? Are we willing to make sacrifices to live out what we say we value?
When we think about passing on faith, we must remember that those around us are always watching. They look at our actions just as much as they listen to our words. They long to see people who are passionately committed to what they believe and will faithfully live it out.
In a simple, yet profound way, Gladys’ determination calls each of us to practice our priorities and do what it takes to live out our faith.
Gladys makes sure her new glasses allow her to read her Bible clearly.
Read Your Bible
After Gladys arrived at the vision clinic, she watched as other villagers had their eyes tested using a standard eyechart. But when she reached the front of the line, she insisted her eyes be tested using the Bible instead of the chart. She wanted to make sure her new glasses allowed her to read the words.
We too can follow Gladys’ example. Now more than ever our family needs to see us opening the Bible. They need to know that it is where we turn for direction — daily and during times of great crises.
If you need a place to start, begin by reading a psalm or proverb each day. Try reading through the book of John. Or take advantage of a Bible reading plan.
Invite your family to join too. If your children are young, read them an illustrated Bible story and talk about what sticks out to them. If they are older — or even grown and away from home — do a reading plan together and talk about what you are each learning.
Like Gladys we can read the Bible, learn from God’s truth, and pass it on to those around us.
A group of little children follow Gladys as she walks home.
Be a Welcoming Presence
After leaving the vision clinic with her new glasses, a group of curious children trailed behind Gladys. They wanted to know about the visitors who had come to their village and the hope they came to share. No doubt this little group felt safe exploring in her presence.
We too can be a welcoming presence in the lives of those around us. As a parent, grandparent, or teacher, you have the opportunity to help someone feel important, heard, or comforted.
Look for simple ways to connect with those you love. If you have young children or grandchildren, bake cookies, or take a trip to a park. FaceTime with a teen or young adult. Schedule a Zoom call with your Bible study group. By giving your time, being present, and inviting others in, you can make a significant difference in someone’s life.
Gladys wears her new glasses to church.
Pass It On As You Go
Gladys lives a simple life. And her approach to passing on faith is also simple — she lives out and models what she believes.
From the beginning that was God’s plan. As Israel prepared to enter the promise land, God told His people,
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
Passing on faith happens as we go about our daily routines. When our family sees us open our Bible, they learn that God’s Word gives them direction for real problems. When they see us serving someone who is suffering, they learn about loving others. When we go together to church, they learn the importance of biblical community.
Look for opportunities to talk about faith with those you love. It does not need to be fancy — do it while driving in the car, shopping in the store, or jogging through the park. Point out something you observe or ask a question that starts a spiritual conversation. Be open and honest. And do not worry if it is short. You can often teach someone just as much about God in snippets and spurts than from long conversations.
Together we can learn from Gladys and her simple but dedicated faith. Together we can live out and pass on the hope of Jesus to the next generation.
You can share hope with suffering families around the world!
Because of COVID-19 — along with locust plagues, drought, economic recessions, and more — people already facing shortages of food and other basic necessities now struggle to survive. Every $1 you give now ships and delivers $10 worth of lifesaving aid — water filters, blankets, medical supplies, and more — and provides opportunities for children and their families to learn about the eternal hope of Jesus.
Amanda is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Gift for Leadership, Kindred Spirit, and Christianity Today publications. She holds a M.A. in Media and Communication from Dallas Theological Seminary.