Eloise and Kevin Dyer

One of the men who has had an out-sized impact on my life is Kevin Dyer—the founder of International Teams, the mission agency I worked with for nearly 20 years. He is truly a man of God by any definition of that term.

I recently read a devotional Kevin wrote in a new guide he published entitled, Life is Hard but God is With Us. He referred to I Chronicles 12:23, 32 where thousands stood up for David in becoming king over Israel, including the tribe of Issachar which demonstrated unusual unity among their men—“all their relatives followed them.” Kevin then poses the question, “Do you have your family united with you in what you want to do for God?”

As I thought through that question I realized that I don’t know any man for whom that better describes his family than for Kevin. I could write several paragraphs about the ways his two sons and daughter, their spouses, and now their grandchildren are giving their lives to global missions, neighborhood outreach and service to others. Just like Kevin and his wife Eloise always have.

I have long thought there are no guarantees for how anyone’s children will turn out; whether a man or woman’s kids will choose to follow their own faith path. No guarantees. But I believe there are factors that create a favorable environment for children to follow their parents’ faith choices.

One of those factors is a connection with grandparents. I’m convinced that the life-testimony of godly grandparents is one of the most powerful influences in the choices the third generation makes. Godly grandparents pass on a message to grandchildren that parents can’t: This faith is not just what Mom and Dad think and want to convince me of, it is a part of the heritage I’ve received and the legacy I can pass on to the next generation. It’s the Dyer (or Johnson, or Smith) story. “Their relatives followed them.”

My mother Yvonne with two of her great-grandaughters

I was compelled to tell Kevin that I saw the truth of I Chronicles 12 in his and Eloise’s lives. In response he said, Thanks, but he also passed on some nuggets that are worth passing on to you, with his permission:

1. One of the things we have done every year for 30 years is have special extended prayer times where Eloise and I go through each member of the family and talk about them and their needs and pray for them. We have done this two or three times a year.

2. We believe it is not just talking about our Christian stand but letting our children and grandchildren see us doing things and have them participate with us. They came and helped.

3. It doesn’t mean you are exempt from problems…I thank God for all he has done. It isn’t that we have been smart or faithful but it is the grace of God as we have yielded to Him every step of the way.

Men, there are no guarantees what choices our children will make in life—they have their own minds and convictions. But, if we would like to be a “tribe” like Issachar, or Dyer, where our descendents choose to follow us, one of the most significant factors influencing that is the impact of grandparents.

all grankids

My father Neil with all the grandkids (and one great-grandaughter)

Not all of us have the gift of godly grandparents, or even parents. BUT if you ARE a grandparent, PLEASE take regular initiative to connect with your grandchildren. If your kids DO have grandparents who are solid, healthy role models, make opportunities where those two generations connect. It forms their heritage.

Just as Scripture tells us about the consequences of family sin, God passes on blessing into the laps of children for 3 and 4 generations. May your tribe increase.