About four years ago, as Tina Turner would say, “I left a good job in the city.”  At the time I wasn’t exactly sure why except that my job was trying to get me to comply with COVID restrictions that I did not feel I wanted or needed to follow. Deep in my heart, I knew God was calling me out of that job and that we were going to start homeschooling my boys.  Since that time, I started farming with my family and Sanctuary Family Farms was born.  On our farm we grow wheat, cotton, and a little bit of a lot of other stuff.

More importantly though, God has led us to a place to grow our children and show Jesus’ love to our families and our community.  I would like to share with you some of the principles that we teach our kids on the farm.

In Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”

Every kid on the farm is taught that God comes first. Before we start work, before we start school, before we eat, before we sleep, we thank God for His blessings. We ask Him for wisdom, and we ask Him to give us direction, because it is His work not ours.

We teach that God is loving. In 1 John 4:7-8 it says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

Every kid on the farm gets at least one hug a day from someone other than their parents. I suspect it is probably a lot more than this. Physical affection (hugs, high fives, head rubs) is a part of their lives every day.  As the Scripture says, the best way to show God is by loving each other.

Again in Matthew 22:39 it says “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Just as the kids are taught to love God, they are also taught to love others. Whenever we do ministry work, they are all included in some way. Some of them visit with people in the community.  Some help pick vegetables, and some pray for people that have prayer requests.  Pa has the older kids in Sunday School, and they often have lessons on empathy.  Anytime someone on the he farm is sick or struggling, you can be sure that someone will pray with them, and it is often the kids.

In Philippians 2:3-4 it says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Each of the kids have at least one farm chore whether it is taking care of chickens, goats, pigs, calves, or taking out food scraps.  We do this to teach them that they are part of something bigger; they learn that they are not the center of the world.  They are also encouraged to help each other when needed.

In 1 Timothy 5:8 it says, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

At Sanctuary Farms, we believe that ministry starts with the family.  How you treat your family will reflect how you treat others.  Helping your family is where our kids learn to take care of those outside of our family. Each kid is expected to help their immediate family first. Then they are expected to help their cousins, aunts, and uncles. We often tell the kids that if someone needs help, don’t wait for someone else to do it.  You do it.

We also set up some work in the summer for the kids to work together without an adult watching their every move. This teaches them responsibility and how to solve problems, but it also teaches them empathy for each other and how to work together.  If someone isn’t pulling their weight, they get to see how that affects everyone.

In Mark 3:33-35 it says, “And he answered them, saying, ‘Who is my mother, or my brethren?’  And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, ‘Behold my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

We also try to teach our kids that what you do and believe is more important than who you are born to.  Some of our coworkers on the farm aren’t related to each other. Because of this, our kids have some chosen aunts, uncles and cousins; not just blood related ones. This extended family has a shared belief in Christ and a common goal in the Kingdom, so we consider and treat them like they are family.

Psalm 139:14, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvellous are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well.”

Just as we teach our kids that the world does not revolve around them, we also teach them that they are special.  We tell them that God has a plan for them and that He shapes and guides them to fulfill this plan. One of the ways we do this is by encouraging them to find what they are good at or enjoy doing. All of them have to do the crappy chores like cleaning out chicken pens, but they are also encouraged to do extra things that they like. For example, one of them may be responsible for taking out food scraps, but they will help with goats, because they have a knack for it.

Also, we make a point of celebrating important milestones in their lives. We celebrate birthdays, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, and good grades as a whole family. We make sure that each one understands how their decisions shape who they are and where God is taking them.

In conclusion, there is a saying that goes something like this, “A man needs two things in life: something that they are willing to die for and someone to die beside.”  I am so thankful that God has helped me find these things since leaving my old job. I am also overwhelmed that God has placed such wonderful people in my life to help raise my kids.

These are just a few of the ways that we are helping our kids to become Godly members of our family and His Kingdom.  We would love to hear how you are doing this with your family.

— Written by Jeremiah

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