I was raised in the Bible Belt in a town where many people claimed to be Christians. Some were genuine, but others were just trying to gain the respect and social status that acting like a “good Christian” would bring. My mother and father were the real thing; in fact, my Christian heritage went back to my grandparents and even great-grandparents.

My father’s mother often talked about how loving and unselfish my great-grandmother was. I never remember meeting her, but anyone in the family who mentioned her said the same thing: that she lived what she believed. She regularly told others about the reality of a relationship with Jesus Christ. When her husband would invite over a dozen people — unplanned — after church, she would gladly cook and clean for them.

She was always loving, serving, and giving.

Now with my father’s parents I saw with my own eyes the obvious reality of their faith. My grandfather worked with several of his brothers, and many of them mistreated him badly. Instead of holding on to anger and hatred, he showed them the kind of love that Jesus commanded when He said, “Love your enemies.” He forgave them and refused to take revenge on them when he had the opportunity.

My grandfather always took an interest in people in need and even helped them out whenever he could. When my uncle fell under the grip of alcoholism and my aunt developed serious health problems, my grandparents gladly intervened and acted as parents to my cousins. At my grandfather’s funeral, several of my cousins said that he was their real father — even more than their own biological father had been!

This blog’s featured picture was taken at my grandfather’s 100th birthday. The one kissing him on the cheek is one of my cousins whom he gladly raised.

Grandad often sang hymns to worship God when he was spending time in prayer. He lived to be 101 years old and retained a very clear mind all the way to the end, dying in his sleep one night after suffering from pneumonia. The last words anyone heard from him were the verses of a hymn he was singing, worshiping God as he fell asleep!

Similarly, I saw my grandmother live out her faith demonstrating Christian love in practical ways. She was always growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, then unselfishly giving them away to her friends. She cooked for the extended family often, and whenever one of her friends would pass away she would cook an entire meal for their family after the funeral. She did this until she was 87, just a few months before she died.

Like my grandfather, I often heard her singing hymns as worship to God. My most vivid memory of her is when she was working around the house singing these words to an old hymn:

I love to tell the story,¬†because I know it’s true,
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do!

I will never forget those words as long as I live, because I knew that she meant them with all her heart. The story, the Good News of Jesus Christ, really did satisfy her like nothing else in this world!

Later in my life when I was tempted to go after gay sexual pleasures, I could not escape the reality that only Jesus really satisfies.

My grandmother’s sincere words haunted me, and I just couldn’t dismiss them.

Did you have a relative or friend during your childhood who was so deeply committed to Jesus Christ that they influenced you to desire Jesus also?

  • I remember singing that hymn at my home church growing up! I also had the pleasure of seeing older adults live out their faith with such incredible expression and passion. It’s encouraging for sure. When I grow up, I’d like to be like that. Haha! That’s a sweet photo…

  • My parents and grandparents had such an evident love for the Lord as I grew up, and there’s no doubt their influence has helped shape who I am today. Makes me so appreciative of their impact for so many years. Gives me new perspective for my own impact on the next generation!
    It’s fun and enlightening to see more of your backstory fall into place. Looking forward to your continued storytelling, Marshall!

  • My grandmother (father’s mother) had genuine faith, though her husband acted “Christian” until after he married her. He stopped going to church after getting married. I don’t know about my mother’s parents because they died when I was young. Neither of my parents had made a profession of faith until they were adults, so I didn’t benefit from growing up in a Christian home with “mature” Christian parents. I professed my faith in Christ when I was 12, but remained rather immature spiritually for many years. Around 17 years old, I recognized genuine faith and the Holy Spirit living in my piano teacher (and her family) and wanted this genuine faith I recognized in their lives. That was the real start of my spiritual growth–beginning with a search for that genuine faith.

    • Yes! When you see genuine Christian love, joy, and peace as you watch people live out their faith it will have more power to persuade than talk alone!

  • No, I never did have a living example of someone in a previous generation living out their faith in Jesus. How beautiful to have had that in your family. What an inspiration! What a heritage! I hope a little bit of my life might testify to the same, but I fear that it will fall far short of these shinning examples you show. The nearest I came was perhaps to seeing my wife’s own faith grow as we ventured in the Lord, and I do know that her faith has left its impact on our children.
    From your sharing I realize just how very, very important this is and what great impact it has – the testimony of someone living their faith in a genuine manner. My wife and I came to Christ by reading such testimonies. But to see them lived before one’s eyes! Wow! What an experience! What a privilege! Walk the walk and only talk the talk if you have to!

    • Believe me, I only told part of the many ways my grandparents and parents positively affected me. I loved them for who they were, not just what they did and I want to be like them myself! I could go on much longer but I need to move on to other parts of my own story. You will be hearing bits and pieces of their influence on me as I describe my life later on.

    • Believe me, I only told part of the many ways my grandparents and parents positively affected me. I loved them for who they were, not just what they did and I want to be like them myself! I could go on much longer but I need to move on to other parts of my own story. You will be hearing bits and pieces of their influence on me as I describe my life later on.

  • Marshall

    Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. I seek to do that with great joy, because He is better than everything we give up! Also I want to love others in an unselfish way as Jesus taught. I currently do my best to live out that kind of love with 15 other friends on a farm near the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. I love talking about what really matters, and seeing a friend's heart turn from pain to joy, from fear to peace, and from despair to hope! My writing tends to focus on the topic of friendships with other guys. I have never married and am currently the oldest author on YOB.

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