Environment Matters

by: Dr. Bruce Goddard

Recently, I had the privilege of preaching several times at Pacific Baptist Bible College in Long Beach, with Pastor Steve Myers and the Esposito family. I noticed how many of their young people are burdened for Southeast Asia. Many of their young people are in Cambodia and other nearby countries. Many more of their young people are presently preparing to go to those countries as well.

From our church, we have missionaries in the Philippines, China, and other countries; others are in Bible college planning to go to the mission field as well. It is no surprise that if one rears a child in a ghetto, that he is more likely to end up in gangs, moral depravity, or in trouble with the law. Many times, the end results are determined by the environment.

Where we place our children will have a major effect on their future.

1 Samuel 1:11 “And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”

Samuel’s mother prayed for a son. She promised him to the Lord if her prayers were answered.  The story continues, a child is born, and she fulfills her promise a few verses later.

Verses 26-28 say, “And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.”

The prophet was born and delivered to the Lord’s house. It is no wonder this young man, Samuel, turned out to be a spiritual giant for God. Samuel had a praying mother and was raised around the church, preaching, and the ministry; it is only logical that his heart would be tender toward the things of God.

Acts 4:20 says, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Proverbs 13:20 shows the importance of one’s environment when it says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

I am not surprised that three of my four children are working in the ministry, and that the fourth child is attending Bible college and headed to the mission field this summer. The ministry is the environment in which they were raised – a good home, Christian school, spiritual youth department and praying parents.

I encourage parents to consider a few suggestions. Of course, you will find great people whose upbringing was far from these suggestions; and you will also find sad stories of parents who tried to implement these suggestions, yet all did not go well. God is sovereign, and the free will of the youth must be considered. I am saying that the chances of your child honoring God with his life are higher when more of these suggestions are implemented.

1. Never get involved in secular sports. Sports are a powerful god in today’s society, and they need to be held in check like a car or cell phone for a teen.

2. Never allow your children to have close friends who are not in your church and actively involved in the ministry. (This includes relatives; a holiday visit might be okay, but weekly time together is not.)

3. Place your children in the ministry as soon as possible. Our ministry allows children from age four years old and up to visit the rest homes. Once our children are in junior high, they are out soul winning. As they enter high school, our young people start working on bus routes.

4. Do not raise your child in a youth department that has no one entering the ministry.

5. Do not place your children in a ministry in which the young people tend to go to secular colleges or liberal arts Christian colleges.  When the majors at the college consist of business or nursing and a little Bible, it is unlikely your children will consider serving God.

6. Place your children in an environment which promotes preaching as the biggest thing in life. In our church, the laymen preach often. Our men preach in jails and rest homes, and dozens of our men preach in public services on big days. In our ministry, it is normal for a man to preach. If you are a man, we assume you can preach.

Did you know that many of the Apostles were related? How is it that so many from the same general family ended up in the “chosen twelve?” Could it be that their families had a special environment? Maybe a spiritual, praying mother and aunt had something to do with it. By looking at the Bible, we find it was not a mother who wanted her child to take dance classes or go to modeling school who said these words:

Matthew 20:21 says, “And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.”

This mom had spiritual desires for her children and probably had a great influence on the rest of the family; perhaps other parents had similar desires. Where we bring up our children matters!

I am not a total psychologist blaming environment for all social ills, but the ghetto Dr Ben Carson was brought up in also had a praying mother with character. I was called to serve God from a home without the Gospel or church, but many more are called from godly homes and good churches. Being called from the world is different from being called from a home filled with compromise. I think we would all agree, environment makes a difference.

Let me refer back to the folks at Pacific Baptist Church. Why are more of their young people headed to Southeast Asia and more of my young people to the Philippines? I take our young people to the Philippines, while Brother Myers sends his youth to Southeast Asia for trips. The same reason most youth departments have no one serving God, it is the environment in which they grew up. It is only logical! Why is it that many of our young men are considering starting churches? The reason is because many of the boys from ten and twenty years ago are now pastoring, and we make heroes out of them.

I would no sooner place my child in a Sunday school where the teacher does not go soul winning than I would allow my child to play weekend sports with a pot smoker.

Incorporate a great deal of godly singing in your home and your child will enjoy singing. Watch sports constantly, and the children in your home will love sports. Go soul winning weekly and talk about the ministry, and your child will most likely learn to win souls. Bring your child to Nascar races and spend weekends working on cars, and you will bring up a different child than one who never misses Saturday soul winning and bus route visitation. We are to TRAIN our children. In fact, we are ALL TRAINING our children; the only difference is the matter of WHAT we are training them to be and do.

These are not facts, but observations that have been tried by decades. (I have watched and dealt with families and young people for over forty years of ministry.) Exceptions abound, but the general rule is simple: the environment in which you raise your children will do much to determine their destiny.

The idea that God calls a man to Burma as a missionary from a home without training is possible, but it would be rare.

Consider your free time, your weekends, your child’s youth department, and your activities. We will load up buses to go anywhere there is good preaching and create an activity. We join like-minded youth groups for singing, games, and preaching. Everything we do with teens is centered on ministry and preaching.

Consider who and what your child is around. Remember, one day, he will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive a reward for the deeds done in his life.

Romans 14:10 says, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 5:10 reminds us again, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

Dr. Bruce Goddard
Faith Baptist Church
Wildomar. CA

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