The Tree that Keeps Growing

Last month, I went on my first mission trip. It was a great experience. (Why did I wait until age 30 to try this?!) I went to Kolkata, India, for two weeks with a group of 15 people from my church, and we worked together with Bengali Christians at the Grace Community Centre in Kolkata. We taught computer and English classes. We helped run a daycare and VBS. We went on a boat to the Sundarban islands where we acted out Bible stories, sang songs in Bengali, and preached Jesus to people who have never heard of Him.

Our trip allowed several free days, and our hosts graciously drove us around the city to for some shopping and sightseeing . We saw everything from Mother Teresa’s hospital to the Kali Temple, where people still make goat sacrifices to the Hindus’ gods.

We also went to the botanical gardens to see The Great Banyan Tree. This 250-year-old tree holds the world record for the largest canopy of a single tree, covering almost four acres. It spreads as the high branches send shoots downward, which take root and eventually become supporting trunks. A road was built around the circumference of the tree, but branches have since reached across the road and grown new trunks in an ever-widening circle. Today there are about 3600 interconnected trunks, all supporting one broad, leafy canopy.

The Tree that Keeps Growing

The growing Banyan tree reminded me of the reason we went to India: to share the gospel with new people and help make disciples for Jesus. This is how God works. Slowly but surely, the gospel is preached, churches are planted, and people find true life as God’s plan for the world unfolds.

Sadly, the original trunk in the center of the Banyan tree was removed due to disease almost 100 years ago. But the tree keeps spreading in all directions, thanks to the new roots and trunks that keep on growing.

In a way, this reminds me of how God can work through faithful parents. One father who loves his children and points them to Jesus can have a huge impact on future generations. You and I will be long gone 250 years from now, but God willing, there will be thousands of Christians in the world who can trace their heritage back to us and see fathers who loved Jesus and faithfully made disciples of our children.

The Power of a Blessing

We haven’t been the greatest parents spiritually. I hear parents talk of how they have family devotions every evening and I just think, “We suck!” We have never done a family devotion, unless the reading of Luke 2 on Christmas morning counts. We don’t send our children to Christian School like other good Christians do. But the one thing we do is pray a blessing over our children when we drop them off at school. We’ve been doing this for 16 years but never seen the impact like we have this year with our adoptive boys.

photo

My wife Carolyn was running late to drop off our almost 4-year-old and almost 3-year-old at preschool, which, by the way, is at a Baptist Church in case you were judging us harshly. Her habit is to pray a blessing over each of them in the parking lot prior to heading to their classrooms, nothing long and pharisaical mind you, but brief and to the point. Well, on this particular day she was in such a hurry that she forgot to pray for the boys. As she dropped off Sam (our almost 3-year-old) and began walking down the hall, relieved that the morning ordeal was over and the boys had been delivered safely to their respective classes, Sam came running out of his classroom, tears in his eyes and teacher in tow. He cried out, “You forgot to pray, Mommy.” Immediately Carolyn turned on her heels, ran to our little boy, took him in her arms and prayed a blessing over him. The teary-eyed teacher watched, moved by the tenderness of a young boy longing for the prayer and blessing of his parent.

Sam has only been a part of our family for 11 months. He came to us from an environment where prayer was foreign, blessings were few, and safety and security were not a certainty. Yet in his brief time with us he has come to know the power of prayer and a blessing. He knows the comfort of a loving hand on his head and the peace of God which transcends all understanding that results from prayer.  He has come to know the love of an earthly father and mother and is learning the love of his heavenly Father.

So, for those of you who feel you don’t measure up to other Christian parents, why not try praying a simple blessing over your children each day as they head off to school or day care. It won’t take a minute, but it will affect your child immediately and change him or her for a lifetime!