While mothers and fathers have an irreplaceable, God-given role in shaping their kids into people of character and faith, grandparents are able to have a unique role in the lives of their grandkids. They model spiritual maturity and dispense the wisdom that comes with that. And they are allotted certain "privileges" from having a deep love for their grandkids while maintaining a unique distance from their day-to-day lives.
This post is for all of the grandparents out there – whether you are currently a grandparent, soon to become one, or a future grandparent. We tend to talk a lot about what it means to be a godly mom or dad, but we seldom discuss what it means to be a godly grandparent.
Today we will have a little Q & A with two CRM staff members, Stan and Marilyn Troyer, who have sought to live out what it means to be godly grandparents while pursuing a life as career missionaries.
Jamie (for CRM): Hi Stan and Marilyn! Thanks for talking with us. Why don’t you introduce yourselves?
Stan and Marilyn: Marilyn and I live in Niles, Michigan. We joined CRM staff in 2000 and served with the reFocusing Team helping renew and revitalize existing churches. Marilyn was a part of CRM's Intercession Team. In 2003 we reconnected with ministry in Nigeria and returned yearly for short-term trips helping in training events and to establish CRM’s CoNext partner there, HLN (Harvest Leaders Network). We are blessed with three children and six grandchildren ranging in ages from 5 to 21.
Jamie: For several years now, you have hosted an annual “Grandkids Summer Camp” for your grandchildren. How did you get inspired to do this? What does Grandkids Summer Camp look like?
Stan and Marilyn: Our summer camp was inspired by an interview we heard on Christian radio of a couple with grandchildren. We took their ideas and planned our first Grandkids Summer Camp. It was a four-night event complete with a theme and detailed schedule for each day.
Some years we have used VBS materials for the spiritual focus. More recently we have done more “acting out” of the Biblical text, which means we have chosen Scriptures that tell a story. We choose a key verse and help them memorize it.
Each day includes a craft activity — sometimes they are connected to the theme; however, most often they are crafts that everyone enjoys with a variety to choose from. We play active games and sometimes plan a special outing for part of one day.
Jamie: How has the summer camp impacted your relationships with your grandchildren?
Stan and Marilyn: Summer Camp is a small part of our interactions with our grands. Throughout the year, we have them in our home individually for an overnight or two for personal time with us. We also attend sporting events, school programs, and church activities that they participate in as much as we are able, since we only live 40 minutes away from them.
Jamie: How have you seen God work in the lives of your grandchildren?
Stan and Marilyn: Our oldest grandson, who is 21, has always been very close to us and interested in our being missionaries. When he was in 7th grade he asked to shadow me (Stan) for one day. And in high school, rather than traveling with his class to Europe, he chose to travel with us to Nigeria. This was especially meaningful since we stayed in the home of Iliya and Becky Majam, who serve with CRM’s Co-Next Partner in Africa, and we were able to visit the site of a bombed church in which, miraculously, the damage had been inexplicably reduced.
This trip also included attending a CRM staff conference in Greece and that gave him the opportunity to interact with some CRM missionary kids. He returned home a changed person. Recently, he began to search again the pathway of missions, fueled by his hunger for God.
Jamie: In your own words, what do you think it means to engage in "godly grandparenting" with your grandchildren?
Stan and Marilyn: All of our grands seem to find Grandma and Grandpa a safe place to be themselves. When life is challenging, they love spending alone time with us. We are committed to loving them in a non-judgmental way, even when we disagree with their course of action.
We believe godly grandparenting is about keeping an open relationship that is different than what parents are able to have with their children. We do not have the responsibilities of parents, and are therefore freer to enjoy the person God has created them to be. Because we are not involved in their daily lives we bring a perspective that is different, that both complements and completes the parental relationship.
This interview is brought to you by Jamie Rosenberry, who has served with CRM for the last 8 years and is now preparing to start an apprenticeship with InnerCHANGE in San Francisco, CA. Stan and Marilyn are pictured above with four of their six grandchildren.