My parents Jim and Darlena Matheny just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and we traveled from Brazil to be present for this date. Because of my dad’s health, we weren’t able to host a nice reception, as we did for their 50th, but we are enjoying some time together.
My dad was baptized in 1950 (see image) by St. Louis, Mo., evangelist Robert Adamson in a farm pond; my mom was immersed around 1955 at the 2nd and Walnut church building in Paragould, Ark. They were married by Emmett Smith in his living room in Paragould.
My grandfather George Matheny helped to begin the congregations at Upper Lafe and at Stonewall, Ark., and served as an elder in the latter congregation. My maternal grandmother, Dolly McDonald, also participated in the congregation. Many baptisms were done in the pond on the McDonald farm at Hooker. (My dad and uncle were baptized there.)
I preached my first sermon in the Marmaduke, Ark., congregation at about age 14. At 16, I began preaching regularly in the Croft congregation, outside of Paragould.
I mention that bit of personal background to say that I’m grateful to have parents who taught me the faith from infancy.
Paul mentioned to Timothy “how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 3.15. He remembered what a blessing it was for Timothy to have a family history rich in faith. “I recall your sincere faith that was alive first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am sure is in you” 2 Timothy 1.5.
I’m also grateful to have parents who encourage me in ministry. Since I can remember, Dad shared his hopes that I would serve as a gospel preacher. Though they never dreamed that I would devote myself to missions in Brazil, as we’ve done over the past 30 years, the decision was a logical extension of their encouragement to serve the Lord.
I used to wonder sometimes if growing up in a Christian home might have been less of an advantage than coming to Christ from the world and having a sharp sense of the difference between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God.
The advantages of a Christian home are abundantly clear. The blessings of growing up with parents who are united in the faith of the Way are undeniable.
Would to God that every child had a Christian home in which to be reared, in which to learn from infancy about God, to be given the opportunities to form habits and mental patterns that will reinforce faith and godliness for a lifetime!
I’m grateful to have been given this blessing.