When I came to know Jesus as a senior in high school, my family didn’t attend church. Soon after my conversion, I became burdened for my family members who didn’t know the Lord. Fast forward thirty years later and I look back on what God has done (and is still doing) and stand amazed.
Through the years, I’ve had the privilege of baptizing a parent and two siblings myself and seeing one other sibling be baptized. I’ve also had the privilege of baptizing four nieces and nephews. In all of this, there were no awkward confrontations or conversations. There were no hurt feelings or pressure from me. As I look back, here are the four biggest factors in God using me to see them come to Christ: Pray for them, Live it in front of them, Wait on God, and Test the Waters.
I never stopped praying for their salvation. God began to work in their hearts about 15 years after I began praying. Don’t stop praying and believing!
Second, I had to demonstrate that Jesus had changed me and had given me something my family didn’t have. While I wasn’t perfect, I followed Jesus and grew in Him without coming across as better than them.
Third, I was patient as the Lord worked in their hearts. I waited for God-directed conversations that turned toward church and faith. I tried to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit was doing in their lives. I would periodically “test the waters” in conversations with them about faith or church just to see if they would engage. If they did, I went further. Amazingly, most of them initiated the conversations WITH ME about faith in Christ and wanting to be baptized. In those conversations, I was able to clearly tell my story and ask about what was going on in their hearts and share about their next steps.
Reaching non-Christian family members is probably the most difficult task any Christian faces. On one hand, you don’t want to burn the bridges of the relationships but on the other hand, you are burdened for their souls. If you have parents, siblings, or extended family that you are burdened for, keep praying for wisdom as you seek to reach them for Jesus. Follow His guidance every step of the way.