My eleven-year-old daughter is discipling me.
We live in a small village in Southeast Asia. Most of our shopping is done in the little hole-in-the-wall shops scattered around the village. They are basic affairs, with dirt floors, a rickety counter, and some goods hung on the walls. But this is how the locals shop, and we’re happy to follow suit.
I usually go to a shop owned by a sweet and honest man. The other day, my daughter Emily and I went to his shop and found it closed. The shopkeeper was at prayer. We were forced to go to the shop across the street, the owner of which usually treats me rudely and abrasively. I prefer to keep my distance and just pray for him.
I stared at my daughter, bewildered. “What, Dad?” she replied. “These people love you!” I blurted out.
I took Emily’s hand and we crossed the road to his shop. I could see him gazing at me with his sour disposition. Then, suddenly, his face transformed into a smile. He ran around from behind the counter and shouted, “Emily, my friend! Welcome!” He shook her hand vigorously. He shook mine even harder as he ushered us inside. He prattled on about how kind my daughter is and how she is his special friend. As we left he filled our hands with free candy and demanded we come back soon.
Back on the street, I stared at my daughter, bewildered. “What, Dad?” she replied. “These people love you!” I blurted out.
Since moving here nine months ago, Emily, my youngest child, has made the most acquaintances. She is popular and well known in our village. Most of our local relationships have been initiated by her. When I meet new people, they respond, “Oh, you are Emily’s father!” They smile and tell me what a wonderful, loving child she is. She is wonderful, my daughter, the welcomer and friend of Muslims.
A month ago new neighbors moved in next door. Within 24 hours, Emily knew the whole family and was eating meals with them. She became fast friends with their 15-year-old daughter. Emily introduced me to the father, and he is now my good friend. He and I have had sweet conversations about Jesus.
What Emily does so naturally and effortlessly is the very thing that most of us try to learn from books and workshops. She shares Jesus from a place of real relationship, accompanied by natural, genuine love for the people He has placed around her.