Impacting a Child’s Life

November 30, 2012
Jean Ohlerking
Jean Ohlerking

By Jean Ohlerking

Follow, we will follow Thee our Lord…

Words that were sung at our wedding continue to ring in my ears even now, two years since my husband of nearly 52 years went to be with the Lord.  Even though we had some years of making very wrong choices, the call to serve and the promise to follow continues to be truth in my life.

After twenty-three years of missions work with other entities, God gave Dave and me direction to begin our own independent work, Children’s Cup, to reach out to the hurting children in the hard places of the world.

Children’s Cup started out in my brother’s basement.  Just the two of us making contacts with donors, typing and folding letters the old-fashioned way; stuffing envelopes, licking stamps…A small beginning, but oh how the Lord has blessed and grown us.

The beginning wasn’t at the beginning of our missionary career.  It was when we were just little kids.

“I want you to draw a picture of what you would like to be when you grow up,” explained Miss Trotter, my third-grade teacher, as she passed out a sheet of manila paper to each student.

After taking a deep sniff of the lovely paper, I took my new crayons out of my desk and sat there wondering what I’d like to be.  I’d said lots of things before—a nurse, a schoolteacher, a homemaker--but I’d never seriously considered the matter before. I asked my eight-year-old self, “What would be the grandest thing?”  And then I had it!  I drew a map of America and a map of Africa with a lot of ocean between and a boat not unlike Columbus’ Santa Maria on that water.  “I would be most honored to be a missionary,” I told myself.

I have no idea what the teacher thought of my picture, but my mom was thrilled.  Not unlike Mary who pondered the things about her newborn son’s welcoming into the world must have done, my mom tucked the picture away and prayed over it as she prayed for me.  Never mentioning it to me until years later, after Dave and I had decided to go into the ministry.

As for Dave, he was privileged to grow up in a home that served as the housing for guest missionaries and speakers for their church.  Missionary Victor Plymire stayed in their home when David was only three years old.  He found himself sitting at the great missionary’s feet one day.

“What is your name, son?” asked Brother Plymire.


“David, I had a son who died while we were serving Jesus in Tibet.  Would you take his place and be a missionary?”

“I will, Brother Plymire.  I will!”  There was no hesitation from the little boy.

Dave’s mom and dad prayed over that commitment without pushing their son.

It was a lot of years later, but Dave and I were honored and privileged to serve God together as missionaries for more than forty years.

Dave and I made some choices that took us in some pretty zigzagged paths on our way to the goal God had for us.  What kept drawing us back were the faithful prayers of our parents.

I thank God for parents who loved and served the Lord.  They not only taught us to pray and have faith in the Lord, but their examples of service were exemplary.

I was just listening to a tape of my folks singing at a nursing home.  It brought back old memories.  They were not in the ministry as far as being credentialed.  But they could sing and play instruments and teach truth from the Word of God.  Their music was not professional by any means, but it was anointed by the Holy Spirit.  They ministered wherever God led them.

Our family had devotions. Dad would read the Word, we would discuss it a bit, then all turn at our seats and on our knees, pray.

I cannot tell you how many missionaries came to our church and presented the stories of changed lives in faraway lands.

We never missed church. My folks taught Sunday School classes in our small church of around 100.  They played their instruments in the church “orchestra.”  They would sing “specials” as duets or my mom soloing.  (My mom was singing at church when my dad first laid eyes on her.  He leaned over to his friend and whispered, “I’m going to marry her.  What’s her name?”)

Ministering to others was a way of life.

It wasn’t hard to say “yes” when the Lord made his calling clear to us as adults.

Children’s Cup began in 1992, more than twenty years ago.  Today we are feeding, educating, medicating, and loving more than 10,000 needy kids every day.  Lives are touched and changed by the power of the Gospel.  Children who have come up through our CarePoints are now serving in their communities and even ministering to little ones in the very CarePoints they grew up in.

Today I thank the Lord for Godly parents who were faithful to teach by example, who knew how to pray and minister to needy ones.

Parents, you have no idea how much your life impacts your children’s lives.

The things you watch on TV, the books you read, the places you go, the way you treat others all have a huge impact on their spirits.

Keeping children in a God-fearing church, teaching them to pray and trust in the Lord, filling them with the Word of God will insure that their souls will forever be impacted and help them make right decisions.

My parents’ choices and their way of life impacted not only my life, but also the lives of thousands of little ones in foreign lands.

Proverbs 22:6 still holds true:

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

New King James Version (NKJV)

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