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the legacy

One Family Shares Its Rich, Spiritual Heritage

by Margaret Hardison

For more information about the FWB Home Missions Department (now North American Ministries), please visit

I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO OUR FAMILY. Terry and I have been married for almost 39 years. We have four adult children and six grandchildren. During the past 35 years, we have pastored four churches. And for the past eight years we have served as Home Missionaries to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During this time, our family has been essential to our ministry.

Lori and Mitch Strickland

Mitch is the assistant pastor of our church and has worked with Terry in the ministry for more than ten years. Lori is our pianist, and she is an active pastor's wife. They have three sons (Jamie, Tyler, and Zach) and one daughter (Maria).

Christie and Mike Ray

Mike, an ordained Free Will Baptist minister, teaches at Cramerton Christian Academy and is active in Children's Church in Gastonia, NC. Christie teaches a Sunday School class and works in AWANA™. They have two children, Jessica and Dean.

Mark and Jessica Hardison

Mark is the Youth Director at our church in Milwaukee. He is involved in a mentoring program at Milwaukee Rescue Mission and is a licensed preacher. Jessica is the choir director and heads up a Patch The Pirate™ program. They have two sons named Noah and Luke.

Stephen and Tamela Hardison

Stephen teaches junior high school at Gateway Christian Academy. Tamela teaches music at Gateway Free Will Baptist College. Both are active in the ministries of Gateway FWB Church.

Our family is not perfect, to say the least, but they are all believers, love the Lord, and have given their lives to His service, for which we are very thankful. In their own way, each of them has been very important to ministry, especially here in Milwaukee.

During our ministry, I have met many Christian families. To the public eye, most of them look alike. They come to church, tithe, enforce rules in the home according to their standards and convictions, dress modestly, etc. Why, then, do some Christians pass their faith to their children while others do not? While I certainly do not have all of the answers or even know all the questions, I have observed some things that can help parents raise spiritual-minded Christians.


You cannot fool your children.  They know if the Christianity practiced at church on Sunday is the same Christianity practiced at home through the week.

  • Do you have family devotions?  Do you pray together?  Do your children see you reading your Bible? 

  • Do your children understand the Biblical reasons for your standards and convictions?  Do you live your life based on your Christian principles or is it just for "show?"

  • Do your children have their own Bibles?  Do you provide Christian literature and Christian music?  Are they made to understand the value and privilege of having God's Word?

  • Do you try to provide Christian education for your children?  If the world trains them, they will believe what they are taught!

  • Do you guard their minds regarding music, literature, TV, video games, movies, etc?  Trash in, trash out.


If going to church, soul-winning, serving others, etc are things you do "when you have time" or "feel like it," your children will probably not be spiritual-minded Christians.  Ask yourself, "Is my goal for my child to be in the center of God's Will for all of his/her life" or "Is my goal for my child to be financially comfortable and live close by me so I can be with the grandchildren?" 

  • Realize that in order to have the close family that you really desire, you must raise your children with a desire to have a servant's heart.  Otherwise, they will more than likely spend their lives serving self - not Christ.

  • Schedule family time.  Everyone needs good, clean fun.  Never say "no" when you can say "yes."  There are many things our children felt they had to "give up" for the Cause of Christ (until they were old enough to realize they had not "given up" anything).  Substitute family outings, picnics, cookouts, and sleepovers for TV, movies, parties, and malls.  Their entertainment is your responsibility.  They will be happy for the time spent together and you will be teaching the importance of quality entertainment.


Honestly consider the places you and your family go, the people you choose as friends, the way you dress, the music you listen to, the books you read, the TV programs you watch, and even the words you speak.  Everything about your Christian walk will be weighed and judged by your children and grandchildren.

  • Do you actively witness for Christ - not just on visitation at church?  Do you really share your faith with others and have a heart that wants to see others saved?

  • Do you distribute gospel tracts in public places, to waitresses, to checkout people at the grocery store, etc - especially in sight of your children?

  • In our family, each child knew and understood what the phrase "The Cause of Christ" meant and that it was the most important thing in our world.  It was not the "ministry," the local church, our family, our desires, our feelings, or our finances.  If something could possibly hinder or negatively impact the cause of Christ, we taught them that it just could not be considered. 


This is hard.  It is easy to stand up before a church when they are babies and have a "dedication service," but did you really mean it?  Did you honestly give yourselves and your children to His service?

  • Raise your children to know and believe that the highest calling in this world is full-time Christian service. 

  • Pray regularly for God to use your children to serve Him in whatever capacity He wills.  Then pray for yourself and husband/wife that you will have a heart on fire for the things of Christ which will allow you to follow through with that "dedication" and embrace any calling God extends.

You cannot do the things above unless you are truly sold out to the cause of Christ. Going to church is not serving—it is only refueling. May God bless you and your family as you strive to recreate your faith in future generations. Lean on Him; trust God for everything in your life, especially the lives of your children.

Margaret Hardison enjoys working with her family for the cause of Christ. The Hardisons have a strong, soul-winning ministry reflected through many forms of service including rescue mission work and pro-life ministry.







©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists