Spiritual Genealogy

This month we celebrate Father’s Day, in which we honor the men in our lives — dad and grandpas — who brought us life. This special day may cause us to reflect on the marvelous truth that we are but one link in an eons-long chain of ancestors that directly connects us to Adam and Eve. It is awe-inspiring to take a moment to ponder the many generations of the human family that have led, in God’s sovereign design, from the world’s first parents all the way to your parents, and now to you.

As fascinating as our family tree is (and I feel especially blessed that, thanks to my uncle’s diligent investigation, I know my ancestors all the way back to 1000 AD), the matter of our spiritual genealogy is even more wondrous. Remembering the people God has used to grow His family can be very encouraging.

For example, in 1858 a Boston Sunday School teacher named Edward Kimball led D.L. Moody to Christ while Moody was at work, wrapping up shoes at Holton’s Boot Store. Kimball later wrote that he, “made what I felt afterward was a very weak plea for Christ . . . I simply told him of Christ’s love for him, and the love Christ wanted in return.” Right there at the back of that store D.L. Moody gave himself to Christ.

In 1934 Billy Graham accepted Christ during a series of revival meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is said that evangelist Mordecia Ham left town discouraged, since his meetings had only one solid convert, the teenage Graham.

In 1947, twelve-year-old Luis Palau was confronted with Romans 10:9-10 at a summer Bible camp. As he sat outside in the early morning, with a soft rain coming down, he received Jesus Christ as his Savior. The camp counselor with his arm around young Luis at that crucial moment was Frank Chandler, an English missionary to Argentina.

We know of the impact Moody, Graham, and Palau have had on their generations. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a copy of God’s family tree, to see all the limbs and branches and shoots that have their origin in the much lesser-known Edward Kimball, Mordecai Ham or Frank Chandler?

In March of 2007 I had the opportunity to attend Luis Palau’s ExpoMinisterios in Monterrey, Mexico, and I heard him describe his affection for Frank Chandler. His voice broke with emotion as he remembered the man who led him to Christ.

In a similar fashion, this Father’s Day as we honor the men in our families who gave us life, let’s also take a moment to recall those whom God used to bring us into new life, into eternal life, through the Gospel. Perhaps a phone call, or a note of encouragement, would be an appropriate way of encouraging someone you might consider to be your spiritual parent.