I know only what I saw them live out; the choices they made, the few prayers I heard, the interactions I witnessed, the stories told when I was much older, and the response of others toward each of them. Although I did not open my heart fully to Jesus until late in highschool, I know now the faith of these two women, my unsung heroes, deeply impacted the faith in me and continues to do so even today.
Who are the unsung heroes of your faith? Who are those people who without much recognition, if any, shaped your understanding of God, influenced your relationship with Jesus, or made a spiritual impression on your journey?
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, we come across a small, unassuming verse that speaks volumes to the importance of having and being spiritual mothers and fathers (biological or not). Paul is writing from his second missionary journey to Timothy, a young pastor who Paul took under his wing and mentored him in the faith and in his pastoral calling. Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his father was Greek which tells us he came from a divided household and was of mixed race. It is believed his mother and grandmother converted to following Jesus during Paul’s first visit to their area and met young Timothy then. It was his mother and maternal grandmother who laid the foundation of his faith. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul is speaking of when they will see each other again.
Timothy went on to have a ministry, traveling with Paul, but also being left by Paul, to grow a church. Timothy touched the lives of people in places like Berea, Athens, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Macedonia. He was an influential teacher and preacher, who understood both the Jewish and the Greek culture, who knew the scripture, and who had a gift for ministry.
I can’t help but wonder if any of that would have happened or to what degree it would have happened without the influence of Lois and Eunice. The time they spent teaching Timothy, praying over him, showing him the ways of God and sharing the expectations of following God. The number of conversations about their own conversion experience and how their lives were transformed. The stories they told to lay the foundation of his faith. Even if they didn’t speak their faith to Timothy, they lived it out in front of him.
We can learn a great deal from these unsung heroes. We learn the value of spiritual investments - the importance of pouring into our children and young people the love of Jesus, the wisdom of scripture, the experience of compassion, the value of asking questions, and the responsibility and gift of service.
We learn that spiritual work is often a thankless job and yet it has lasting impact. The truth is that God is working in the most mundane of places to fulfill a greater plan. We are to be a part of God’s plan however, whenever, and wherever we can. Thank you note or not.
We learn that it is in everyday life that Jesus uses, lifts up, or calls out people in seemingly simple situations that make a difference for God. It is who we are and what we do in everyday life; day in and day out, that will either extinguish or ignite the flame of faith in someone else.
What about you? What about us? How will we invest in the faith and spiritual growth of others? What will your faith legacy be? What will Grace Church pass on to future generations? How will we be or not be the unsung heroes of someone’s faith story?
What are you doing to actively share your faith with a child? How are you connecting with the young people of our church or community? Do they see and hear the love, patience, and compassion of Christ when they look at you? When they look at our church?
I recently watched a movie trailer for the upcoming release of Jesus Revolution, and I was struck by the following quote: If you look with love, you will see an entire generation seeking all the right things just in all the wrong places.
We cannot give up on our younger generations because we don’t agree with them or because we think they are uninterested, self centered, or ambiguous about life. They are seeking the right things - they are seeking peace, truth, and purpose. We cannot ignore or dismiss them because we interpret their attitude and actions to be ungrateful, apathetic, and unmotivated. They are seeking the right things - things like meaningful connection, love, and justice.
And it's not just our young people, it's many people in our world today. It’s your neighbor and friends. It's the clerk at Kroger, Target, or Meier. It’s the Amazon, Fedex, and UPS driver. It’s the server at Applebees, Bob Evans, and Culvers. It’s your kid’s teacher, band director, or coach.
We need to be a people and a place of HOPE in a world and to a people that often feel hopeless!
Let us not underestimate the impact of a Lois and Eunice in our lives or in the life of the church and community. Let us be intentional in building faith foundations now and leaving a legacy that makes a positive difference in the lives of those around us and in the lives of those to come.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine