How God Opens a Way for Those with Unbelieving Parents
Paulina Tse—Garden Grove, California, USA
Most of us do not realize
how precious every opportunity we have to serve God is, whether that
opportunity comes in the form of scrubbing toilets or sacrificing your vacation
days at a church event. Growing up with an unbelieving father, I grasped this idea
quickly. Since I was young, actions that other families in church viewed as
typical posed a challenge in my family.
While many of my peers gave
little thought to the pastors’ constant emphasis on marrying within the church
because different values lead to disagreements when raising children, I knew
what they warned us about was true. Simply attending church events was a
struggle, not to mention my mother allotting a portion of her income for tithe
If we really have the heart
to seek after God, however, He will always make a way for us. Ever since I was
young, God has shown me His power to provide for His servants.
A WILD GUESS
The summer before I started
third grade, my sister, mom, and I were ready for Student Spiritual Convocation
(SSC)—my sister was going as a participant, my mom was going to serve as a
counselor, and the coordinators made an exception for me to attend since there
would be no one to take care of me at home while my mom was away.
My dad did not object to
this plan until he saw us packing our suitcases the night before SSC. He began
insisting that he had never said we could attend SSC in the first place and
obstinately refused to let us go.
After trying to reason with
my dad, my sister tearfully stomped off to her room and slammed her door shut.
Frustrated, my mom also eventually gave up and told us we could try again next
We were all visibly upset, and
to get us to talk to him again, my dad jokingly declared that we would “let our
God decide whether we could go.” If my sister or I could guess the exact number
of coins in his pocket, we could go to SSC.
My sister, still enraged
that my dad had so abruptly changed his mind, was further incensed, pointing
out how impossible this task was. Although I was also angry, I didn’t see any
harm in giving it a try.
I said a quick prayer asking
God to help me because I had been eagerly awaiting my first SSC, cast one last
glance at my dad’s slightly bulging jeans pocket, and took a wild guess.
My dad counted, and the
jumble of dimes, pennies, and quarters miraculously added up to exactly
fourteen coins. He laughed in disbelief and recounted again and again. There
was no way to deny that there were indeed fourteen coins, and in the end we
were allowed to go.
Thank God, it was a fruitful
SSC, and I received the Holy Spirit. Many people may claim it was simply a
lucky guess, but I truly believe that it was the grace and power of our Lord.
If we have a sincere heart to draw closer to God, He will never fail to open a
door for us.
ON GOD TO OPEN A WAY
When your unbelieving parent
still rejects your plea to attend a church event even after you have just spent
an hour meticulously explaining that, yes, there is adult supervision during
church events; yes, the only things we do are pray and sit through classes all
week; yes, we still have fun; and yes, the church does feed us, you may end up
feeling hopeless and defeated.
You may even find yourself
questioning whether attending the upcoming SSC is really worth all the effort
you are exerting in order to sway your parent. After all, it is likely that
your unbelieving parent is not only discouraging you from attending but even
bribing you with new game consoles, electronics, or money if you choose to stay
When these nagging doubts
begin to emerge in the back of your mind, when you begin to wonder if God
really cares whether you go to the next church event, remember that He sees
your every effort. As it says in Galatians 6:7, “for whatever a man sows, that
he will also reap.”
This is one of the most
difficult struggles with having unbelieving parents—if you falter in your
faith, it is much easier to stray from the right path. When you are spiritually
weak, instead of encouraging and guiding you, they act as a stumbling block to
It is during these
predicaments, however, when even foolproof logic cannot persuade unbelieving
parents, that you must rely on God. Only God was able to soften Pharaoh’s heart
to let the Israelites leave, and only God is able to soften the hearts of even
the most obstinate parents.
nine years later, my first National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS) is soon
approaching and my dad’s uneasiness is beginning to resurface when faced with
the prospect of me flying across the country to attend yet another church
He demands to know why the
“church events in Southern California aren’t good enough,” and a shadow of
uncertainty flits across his face as he questions how much larger our church
really is beyond the familiar Garden Grove location. When I inform him that
True Jesus Church has churches in thirty-nine countries, from the UK to Congo,
the uncertainty changes to suspicion, and he is done with the discussion about
Although he can still be as
stubborn as he was the night before my first SSC, I am nowhere near as agitated
as I was then. Since that first obstacle, I have seen how God has worked in my
family to allow my sister and me to attend church events regularly.
As the Lord “makes a way in
the sea and a path through the mighty waters,” so will He blaze “a road in the
wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isa 43:16, 19). I have complete confidence
that if we let God fight our battles, He will make the impossible possible for
His servants; He will part the Red Sea for His children.