Dear Gideon

Dear Gideon,

I see you, hands pressed on the glass door of your house, gazing at the passing trash truck. The truck driver is your little boy hero. And so he should be. You are obsessed with planes, cars and trucks as only a three-year-old boy would be. I see how gentle you are with your little sister. And I see the spark of mischief in your eyes.

Did you know that your great, great grandfather was a rancher not far from where you live in Oklahoma? He and his wife began a search for a church that would teach what they read in the Bible. When they found that church, they served it for the rest of their lives. He was a quiet man, a man strong in convictions and faith. His name was Ross, your great, great grandmother was Grace. The church referred to them as “Amazing Grace and Old Rugged Ross.” I remember them, well into their 70s going out and visiting “elderly people” and shut ins.

Did you know that your great-grandfather and grandmother were missionaries? You will learn this in time. They went to Africa, braving snakes and droughts and dictators. Grandmother Donna cooked on a wood stove (I know, I had to split wood to fit the stove). Loy Mitchell, your great-grandfather was a powerful preacher. He could have preached for an American congregation of a thousand, but he preached to tribesmen instead, on a rock, under a tree. But you should know that over the decades those tribesmen multiplied until several Zimbabwean churches numbered several hundred, too. I wish you could have heard his rich bass voice singing hymns in the Shona language.

You already know that your father is a preacher. You see him proclaim the gospel every Sunday. You probably think that is normal. It is not. Many men do not stand for Jesus, do not speak on his behalf. You’re lucky to have a father like that.

But did you know that his father, your grandfather, was a missionary to Canada? You will know that, too, one day. And that his father, Bill Watts, was a missionary in New Zealand? Young missionaries looked up to him and sought his counsel, his wisdom. I know, because men well into their 70s now have told me so.

Dear Gideon, I don’t know if you will grow up to be a preacher, president or policeman. But I do hope, I hope with all my heart, that you grow up to be a Christian, that you will stand tall for what God desires. It will not be easy. I can already tell that our society is growing antagonistic to Christian convictions. You will have to be brave and strong as these other men in your life were brave and strong. You have a rich heritage. That heritage is a blessing beyond price. One day, Gideon, when you put away your matchbox cars and toy fire truck, you will know.

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6).

Dear Gideon, I love you,
Your grandfather.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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One thought on “Dear Gideon

  1. This was weird to see this letter in my inbox this morning. My sons name is Gideon. He is 29 and a faithful servant of the Lord. My family has been in the church for several generations and my dad’s side of the family is from Oklahoma as well as my husband, so my Gideon was born In Okla and went back there to college. We are all here in Virginia now. The similarities in the letter were just funny. I wanted to share.

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