A Lasting Legacy — Single Parents, Take Heart!

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION

Bob,

Years ago you said something in a sermon, and I am wondering if you can verify if I remember correctly.  If I recall you said your grandmother was a single mother, or maybe it was another family member?  It doesn’t exactly matter I guess, but I have thought of it often.  In a world full of statistics of poor outcomes for children in single-parent homes, that message was like a healing balm to me.

MY ANSWER

I’m sorry I don’t remember the specific sermon you mention. But I did have a great-grandmother who went through a terrible divorce.  That occurred at an earlier time when a failed marriage was much more of a stigma and divorcees were treated with much less understanding than they are today.  But my great-grandmother was a strong believer in Christ and refused to quit.  She took her three young children to church every Sunday and faithfully taught them God’s Word.

That couldn’t have been easy. But one of her children, (my grandfather), John Pratt, later became an elder in the Church or Christ in Vanderbilt, Pa. and raised seven children.  Among those seven was my mother Catherine Pratt who married and helped convert my dad, Charles Russell. Together my mother and father raised six children who are all faithful to the Lord today.  In fact, two of us, my brother John and I, became preachers and two of my sisters married preachers. Today four of my parent’s grandchildren are in ministry and now my grandson Charlie is a worship leader at a church near Chicago.

The Bible warns that the sins of the fathers are often visited on the third and fourth generations. (See Exodus 34:6-7.) However, we need to underscore the contrasting promise that assures a much more permanent blessing to parents who are faithful to God’s call. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9).

There’s no way for me to express thanks or to measure the impact of one single mother who kept the faith three generations ago. I hope her example will serve as a reminder and an inspiration to all parents not to grow discouraged or weary in doing good. Stay faithful, and God will bless!

– Bob

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