Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses - Passing on our Family Heritage to our Children

   Our family tree includes a German draft dodger turned faithful servant of the Lord, a couple of pastors, some early Puritan settlers, and a swindler, among others. Tim enjoys telling the kids about his grandpa, George Albert Wegener, who emigrated from Germany alone at the age of 16. He had decided to avoid the draft after hearing his older brother describe life in the Kaiser’s army. His plan to sell batteries to the Indians didn’t quite pan out, so he instead became a master craftsman, a tool and die maker who carved beautiful molds for hardwood embossing. By the time Tim knew him he was a godly man who, along with his wife, prayed diligently for their many grandchildren. We’ve also told our children about my great-grandmother, Amanda Belle Ellis, whose father freed his slaves in Kentucky and moved to Indiana, where Amanda was born at the end of the Civil War. They’ve heard about my great-great-great-grandfather, a Presbyterian pastor in little Scotland, Indiana, whose bible rests on our mantelpiece. Of course, we have some skeletons in the family closet, too, such as Colonel John Ketcham, who began to build an early Monroe County courthouse, but absconded with his payment before completing the job.

   Much as we take pleasure in recounting family stories, the ones we most enjoy sharing with our children are the family stories of men and women of the church. Because for Christians, church history is our family heritage. The world our children are growing up in is not the same as the one in which we came to adulthood in. The remnants of a biblical framework which for long salted our culture for good are fading quickly. Now biblical views on sexuality, life, marriage, and so many more topics, once the general consensus, are viewed as outdated, or worse, narrow-minded and bigoted. Life as a believer is likely to become much more difficult in coming days, and for this reason, we ought to be calling our children to courage with stories of men and women of faith from past generations.

   A great way to introduce your young children to church history is by reading them stories, and here are some great resources we've used:

1. History Lives Series - By Mindy and Brandon Withrow

We've thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling in the two books we've read so far in this new five volume series. Though intended for ages 9-14, these books lend themselves well to reading to a wide variety of ages and would be a great addition to family devotion times.

Peril and Peace: Chronicles of the Ancient Church
Monks and Mystics: Chronicles of the Medieval Church
Courage and Conviction: Chronicles of the Reformation Church
Hearts and Hands: Chronicles of the Awakening Church

Rescue and Redeem: Chronicles of the Modern Church

2. Louise Vernon biographies
Ages 9-12.

These are more books that we've appreciated through the years at our family worship times. For a while these older books were out of print, but their popularity has caused them to be once again easily accessible.  Here are some of the titles:

- Ink on His Fingers (Gutenberg)
- The Bible Smuggler (Tyndale)
- The Man Who Laid the Egg (Erasmus)
- Thunderstorm in Church (Luther)
- The Beggar's Bible (Wycliffe)

3. Trailblazer Series
A fun series of books for young readers to enjoy independently, the Trailblazer books tell stories of great men and women of faith, often from the perspective of young fictional characters.

You'll find a long list of Christian heroes to choose from in this series, from  Adoniram and Ann Judson (book on the left) to Hudson Taylor to Mary Slessor.

4. Trial and Triumph
Canon Press's publication, also suggested for the ages as the above books, actually seems appropriate for somewhat older readers, though it also lends itself to being read aloud to younger children. 

Mr. Hannula is not only a gifted storyteller, but he's made some brilliant choices of men and women to profile. Among the 46 featured lives, you'll find some you're well-acquainted with such as Augustine, Luther, Bunyan, and Spurgeon. But I've especially enjoyed reading about (to me) lesser known men and women such as Anne Askew, Renee the Duchess of Ferrara, and  


Amy said…
Thanks for the suggestions! We are always looking for good read alouds with 'substance'. I also love the YWAM publishing books. They're not rich in vocabulary or complex sentence structure, but they are great stories!
Anne said…
Amy -
Our family has enjoyed a great many books in YWAM's Christian Heroes Then and Now series as well.

(And the Trailblazer books are not exactly high literature, but they are fun books for mid-young readers to enjoy.)

If you (or any one else) has any other suggestions for church history biographies, please share them!
Page Turner said…
(Heather VanTimmeren) I bought the History Lives Series last year, and I'd like to try to coordinate it with Story of the World. Do you know if anyone has cross-referenced coordinating chapters for those two sets? If not, that will be my project once we get to the A.D. years next spring. But it won't be an arduous task since Church History is my favorite subject!
Anne said…
Heather -

I have not seen something that completely coordinates the History Lives series with SOTW. Have you checked the Well-Trained Mind boards? (Tapestry of Grace does use some of the HL series and they list SOTW chapters as alternate selections, at least in Years 1 and 2.)

Your cross-references between SOTW and HL should be very helpful to many! I'd like a copy.

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