I’m going to expand later on what I believe the Bible says about family in the Old Testament and New Testament — that I believe it’s the PRIMARY Biblical message and God’s priority for His Church. (See Malachi 2:15: “And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.”)
A few years ago I began a manuscript on the state of the Church because I felt there were some vital issues my fellow believers were missing in applying Scriptural principles to real life issues.
A lot of these issues were very real to me, because of life decisions my wife and I had made regarding family and faith. One related to a primary attitude that many Christians have adopted from secular society.
“Only have as many children as you can afford.”
For the majority of our marriage I was the main source of income for our household. While aware of some of the tools in the Christian community for money management, I was discouraged by the presuppositions regarding money and children I’ve found in almost every course, and never really implemented them. Lately, though, I’ve found Dave Ramsey’s Peace University to be valuable… however…
The undercurrent of most money-management programs is that you have all your resources lined up and life planned out before you make a decision regarding your family and children. If we’d made any decisions on starting and continuing to increase our family size based on all the financial programs we’ve explored, we wouldn’t have half these kids we cherish. If you’re reading this, you probably know at least some of our children… there’s not one I would “turn back in …”
In addition, we’ve been quite open to hosting guests in our home – consisting, on and off, over a third of our marriage — including foster children, exchange students, foreign immigrant families, street people, and many others (see endnote).
My philosophy, perhaps erroneous, to some degree presumptuous, has been to trust in God’s provision when we have decided to do the seeming impractical (add another baby, host an immigrant family, etc.). (I only say my philosophy was erroneous, in that I didn’t have a budget or good financial administrative skills.)
Our Christian service hasn’t been limited to that in our home over the years. I’ve assisted in worship teams for nearly all the years of our marriage, played in Christian outreach bands, and served as deacon, elder, church treasurer, private school board member, co-pastor, and administrator at different times. Both Carole and I have led youth groups, school groups, prison ministries; taught Sunday School, children’s church, Bible Studies, Bible College classes, private school classes, and more. We’ve also helped (physically) in at least three church/school building programs. All while raising 10 children (and exchange/foster children, etc.).
During these many years we’ve had significant struggles with finances and money. We’ve always tried to be consistent tithers and givers, but we’ve lost a house in foreclosure, and turned two homes over for the equity only, sold another home we had inherited and sold two other building sites we had purchased… with the final deed turned back on a church building we had renovated (this just before we moved to Florida). While I had hoped our financial fortunes would change in Florida, the job here I had hoped for never materialized, and I wound up working for fairly low wages at Home Depot for the first few years.
So we now rent, don’t have big retirement accounts, don’t have big portfolios of real estate or stocks…
But we have an priceless treasure in our ten children (and 17 grandchildren — so far). And God has been ever faithful to provide our basic needs at every turn.
All our children boldly confess their trust and faith in Christ. Many currently lead or have previously led in their local churches. Three sons serve in the service: One in the Air Force and two in the Navy. While many have experienced “bumps in the road,” and significant life challenges (one daughter is raising her children alone after her “minister” husband picked up a girlfriend and started another family with her), every one is committed to following and serving Christ in their walk.
It’s not been an easy walk — Carole is currently staying in Washington state to help out with the single mom and another daughter raising a new baby alone — but God’s glorious Grace has been ever-present in every situation and circumstance, and will continue to be so.
A number have come to Christ through our ministry one-on-one, and many have been influenced to (what we consider) Godly decisions regarding their lives and families.
Eleven years of “Guests” in our years of marriage:
1977 Forest (Carole’s brother) 12 mo.
1978 Cindy (Carole’s sister) 1 mo.
Bud (Carole’s brother) 3 mo.
Mary (homeless 15 yr. old) 15 mo.
1979 and 1984 Forest (Carole’s brother) 9 mo.
Tami and Jerry (and 1 daughter, 1 sister) 2 mo.
Gary (ex-con) 6 mo.
Gordon (gay homeless man) 1 week
Joanna’s mom (mentally challenged pregnant homeless) 1 mo.
Beatrice (mentally challenged elderly homeless) 1 mo.
Alice (pregnant single teen) 4 mo.
1980 Cindy (Carole’s pregnant sister and child) 3 mo.
Bill (Cindy’s friend) 1 mo.
1985 Cindy (estranged from parents) 4 mo.
1987 J.J. (foster care, pregnant teen prostitute) 10 mo.
1988 Ellen (J.J.’s sister, Foster Child) 6 mo.
1987 Shelly (single young adult) 18 mo.
1989 Makarenkos (Russian refugee family of 7) 4 mo.
1992 Tina (homeless adult dancer) and Louie and 2 children, 2 mo.
Bobbie and Chuck (homeless, pregnant adult dancer) 6 mo.
2000 Brittany (niece) 3 mo.
2000 Carole’s Sister’s 4 small children (temp. foster care) 2 weeks
2001 Stacey (daughter estranged from parents) 4 mo.
2001 Stacey’s family (mom and I siblings, 7 members) 1 mo.
2001 Kiril and Eva (Foreign Exchange, Georgia and Bulgaria) 9 mo.
2002 Nickita (Foreign Exchange, Russia) 5 mo.
2006 Leena and four kids 2 weeks
And a number of others I forget…
Carole’s “daycare” over the years:
Ryan, Jennie, Anna, Bethany, Kevin, Tori, Tony, Stephanie, Julie, Issac, Joseph, Bobbie, Cassie, Stacey, Daniel, Eli, Dustin, Melanie, Casey, Aaron, Ben, Karen’s 3 girls, Sheena, Methenia, Reese, Shelly … And many more.