My resume includes the distinction that I was an active home educator for over twenty-eight years. I often joke that when I ran out of children to homeschool, I began my “career” as a writer and mentor, helping younger women maneuver through their journeys with their families.
During the time I was the primary teacher for my children, I received many positive and negative comments about our family’s educational choice. They ranged from the customary, “I could never do that! I just don’t have the patience,” to “How selfish it is to restrict your gifts and talents to just your own children. You should send them to school to be missionaries to other kids, and you should get credentialed as a teacher so that with your talents you could help many children and just not your own.” I always laughed at the latter criticism based on its faulty logic. This collectivist view held that by giving priority to my own family I was cheating others. By God’s grace, a sound theology allowed me to dismiss these “helpful” pieces of advice as the distractions they were.
Now that the season of life I enjoy does not include day-to-day teaching, and running children to various activities and lessons, I am in a position to utilize my experience as a teacher and put it to productive use. Those 28-plus years served as my “advanced degree” studies as I took three children from being uneducated to well educated, and in the process, I acquired useful, transmittable knowledge. Rather than pursue additional schooling, as some suggested, I purposed to apply what I had learned and share it with others. My personal ministry became sharing my life with those God placed in my path, and putting to good use all that He had allowed me to learn.
What Is Ministry?
It is a shame that the word “ministry” has been relegated to something that the ecclesiastical realm is responsible for. Per Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, the definition offered, the office, duties or functions of a subordinate agent of any kind, is not limited to ecclesiastical matters. It is time that the people of God recognize that as subordinate agents (disciples) of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have a duty and obligation to recognize our office, duties, and functions.
Because we have ghettoized the concept of ministry to be something apart from our day-to-day lives, and often limited to the clergy, we have neglected key components of the dominion mandate/Great Commission to disciple the nations. What if we considered the degree to which we are sharing our lives with others, as either individuals or families, a benchmark of our gratitude and appreciation for our eternal salvation and God’s grace towards us? What if dedicated believers determined truly to be salt and light within the sphere of their everyday existence? The results would be staggering.
For those of us who desire to see our culture reconstructed according to Biblical guidelines and mandates, we have a duty, responsibility, and opportunity to reach out into our surrounding culture and shine the light of Christ. This does not mean that we need do anything extraordinary to find an area of ministry where we can immediately begin to serve. Ministry should be a logical extension of what we already do.
Whatever occupies our time and focus can be extended, in compassionate ways, to others as a means to share Jesus as we share our life with them. One does not need to be “credentialed” by anyone other than our Savior to go about making disciples of those whose paths cross ours—by assisting in tangible ways, whether within our extended family, our neighborhood, our church congregation, or even the workplace. Moreover, it does not need to be in great numbers to be God-honoring. As Jesus stated, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40). This is the subject of compassion and it falls into the area of charitable works. Recall that St. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
R.J. Rushdoony points out,
In the Bible, compassion or pity is always associated with grace. Having received the grace of God, we manifest it to others. We too often hear of people who show compassion to the poor and needy, but less often that their motivation is grace. When grace is our motivation, we know the limitations of our efforts, and how limited is the good we can do, and how great God’s power and works. As we survey the evil in men both high and low, we know that the resolution lies in God’s sovereign grace. For us then, the necessity is to recognize that the cross means judgment on sin. If God the Son, as man’s last Adam, undergoes judgment for His people, how can men and nations expect to evade judgment for sin? We know they shall be judged. Our duty is to obey our Lord, be charitable where we can, and to know that, however miserable may be the results that we see, in Jesus Christ, our “labour is not in vain” but will accomplish His purpose (1 Cor. 15:58). Our work is thus one of reconstruction, knowing that the design is not of us but the Lord.1
Immediate Areas of Ministry
And he also went on to say to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12–14)
People prioritize their time according to what is important to them. It is all too easy to breeze over Jesus’s words in the gospel with a hearty “Amen,” without real, tangible applications in our lives. We all have areas that occupy our time that, with a little effort, can be extended to help those who are not in a position to repay us. By doing so, we are merely adding to those things already taking place in our own lives, with an emphasis to share our lives with others.
When my children were young, I was not in a position to volunteer as a counselor at the local community pregnancy center. That did not hinder me from pro-life ministry. I involved my son from a young age with me in activities such as operating a pro-life booth at the county fair. In addition, he and other young pro-lifers produced a regular newsletter, Kids for Life, expressing their plea for the unborn. To this day, he remains committed to the cause of ending abortion and supporting ministries that work to that end.
My youngest daughter volunteered her time, when she was quite young, washing donated clothes that the pregnancy center received in order to have them clean before giving them to mothers in need. Additionally, our family asked the local pregnancy center to send women our way who did not have a support structure in place to help them during their pregnancies. We shared holidays with them and I had the privilege of being the labor coach for two of them when they gave birth to their children.
You see, none of these went outside of what we were already doing. Our efforts were an extension of our lives and a reflection of our appreciation for what the Lord had done for us—something that we could never repay. And, as in all cases of obedience to the directives of God’s law-word, we were the richer for it.
An Immediate Need Almost Anyone Can Fill
Illiteracy remains a problem in our society. In many ways, it is the result of a godless, statist, educational system that does not address children as people made in the image and likeness of God. Along with the myriad of other problems that result when students don’t become good readers is their separation from the means by which Jesus Christ becomes known to them. While it is true that as people we first hear God’s Word, without the ability to steep oneself in the text of Scripture by being able to read it, personal responsibility and self-government are almost impossible to attain. This is an area where Christians can have an immediate impact, and in the process transmit vital Biblical principles.
The purpose of God’s law is to provide government under God, not under men, not the church, nor the state. God’s law is the means to a free and godly community. In surveying Biblical law, we mustfirst recognize its premise. Fallen man can only create a sinful society and a tyrannical one. The goal of unregenerate man is a new Tower of Babel, Babylon the Great. It means playing God and controlling all things. The goal of regenerate man in Christ is the kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem, a realm wherein righteousness or justice dwells (2 Peter 3:13). Fallen man cannot build a just social order because he is in revolt against the God ofall justice or righteousness and His law, which is justice. God’s law is “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), and it is a law hated by all who are in sin, which is slavery (John 8:31–36).2
Christian individuals and families are in a position to play a significant role in removing the bonds of slavery that entangle so many. By helping others (both old and young) bridge the gap from illiteracy to literacy, we have the opportunity to help them become free indeed (John 8:36). What’s more, this can be a great chance for young people still living at home, and who are good readers themselves, to contribute to the lives of others. The simple rule of thumb is this: If you can read, you can teach someone else to read. Imagine what it would be like if each Christian family determined to let their light shine in this way.
Having taught three children to read and having helped adults who struggle with reading, this is an area of ministry that comes naturally to me. For example, over twenty years ago, when I met a woman who owned a ranch and taught horseback riding, I was able to exchange reading instruction for her two young children with riding lessons for mine. Each of us was satisfied with the arrangement and her struggling students became better readers.
Currently, I have teamed up with a public school teacher who refers to me families whose children are struggling in school, specifically with reading. Once the parents make contact with me by phone, I explain that I will help their child become a good reader. The requirements include their promise to supervise their son or daughter in their practice in between tutoring sessions. I arrange for us to meet at a public library and I spend about a half an hour to forty-five minutes two times a week, going through the material in Sam Blumenfeld’s Alpha-Phonics program. I assign homework, making it clear that I am only interested in continuing with this arrangement if the family (including the student) values the opportunity. I charge a minimal $5 per session, and require that the student be the one to hand me the money. What the family does not know, is that when we complete the program, the money that I have been paid will be used to purchase a Bible and some good reading material as an acknowledgement of the accomplishment.
All along the way, who I am and what I believe is a part of our interaction. One mother thanked me for investing in her son. I told her that I do what I do because of Jesus Christ and what He has done for me. She began to cry. This started discussion about her life and faith and has encouraged her to read the Bible in her own native language. A little bit of effort on my part has produced positive results.
Chalcedon Makes This Easier
Should you wish to try your hand at this accessible ministry for you or your children, Chalcedon makes the process easy. For a small investment, you can purchase the Alpha-Phonics Tutor’s Package3 and make use of our helpful tutorial as to how to get started along with one-on-one mentoring along the way should you need it. By focusing on God’s requirement for charity, we can do much to advance the Kingdom in a way that produces tangible results. This is one way to let our light shine before others and point them to Christ in the process.
Religion is either man-centered or God-centered, and non-Christian, non-Biblical faiths are men-centered. The concern of pagans, whether in the church or out of it, whether in an ancient mystery religion or in a modern church, is man-centered. In effect, the believer is interested in what God can do for him or her. As against this, Biblical faith insists that justice means righteousness in us, set forth by our faithfulness to God’s law; because God’s law is the expression of His nature and being, to believe in God means to obey His law and to manifest His communicable attributes, which include grace, mercy, and charity … Moreover, to believe in God is to know His grace, mercy, and charity to us in and through Jesus Christ, His atonement, and His providential care.4
Sharing Our Lives
Christian charity is altogether different from its humanistic counterpart. Christendom resulted from the people of God applying the law of God to all aspects of life. Today, much of that has been clouded by a self-centeredness that has no root in Scripture. With an emphasis on the Christian call to charity, we will be in a better position to reconstruct our society on Biblical foundations. Rushdoony points out,
We sometimes forget what a radical change in every area of life and thought was made by Christianity. As one scholar observed, those who were the closest to the gods in Homer were not the poor nor the meek, but the strong and the powerful. Greek philosophy and popular thought did not consider the potential for goodness in the poor … Giving to another person took place only when one knew that the other person would in due time reciprocate…
Our Lord reversed the prevailing moral order. His command was, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Luke 6:38). Matthew 6:1 says that it is our Father in Heaven who will reward us by His providence. “And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same” (Luke 6:33).
Over the centuries, one of the unexpected kindnesses of Christians was that they asked people, who were unable to reciprocate the invitation, to share their dinner. The poor were thus welcomed to the table by richer believers.
We are now on the road back to paganism. We pay little attention to our Lord’s commandments concerning charity and brotherly love. As a result, we have made ourselves comfortable but poor in grace.5
Those of us adopted into God’s family, and eager to see His Kingdom lived out here on earth as it is in heaven, have to look no further than our daily lives to find ways of furthering the Kingdom. We have much to offer our culture by means of Christian reconstruction done within the context of who we are and what we do. Just as paying a tithe from our increase affirms that all our assets belong to God, so too, all of our life belongs to Him and we should share it with others as a Christian way to Kingdom service.
1. R. J. Rushdoony,In His Service: The Christian Calling to Charity (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2009), pp.117–118.
2. ibid., p. 22.
4. ibid., 184–185.
5. R. J. Rushdoony, A Word in Season, vol. 7 (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2016), pp. 34–35.