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2002 Conversations

Ron McManus: Leadership center launched (December 30, 2001)

Norman Arnesen: History's supreme event (December 23, 2001)

Dr. Everett Bartholf: Help for the holidays (December 16, 2001)

"Auntie" Anne Beiler: God has a plan (December 9, 2001)

Mary Inman: Raising seven sons for Christ (November 25, 2001)

Tony Hall: Feeding the hungry, one person at a time (Novemer 18, 2001)

John Maracle: A growing Native American Fellowship (November 11, 2001)

Al Peterson: Praying for national leaders (October 28, 2001)

Beverly LaHaye: The family is God's gift (October 21, 2001)

Terry Meeuwsen: Putting family first (October 14, 2001)

Dennis Gaylor: Changing the world, one student at a time (September 30, 2001)

Nate Cole: You are not alone (September 16, 2001)

George Cope: Training pastors, missionaries and evangelists (September 9, 2001)

Thomas E. Trask: Breaking down the barriers (August 26, 2001)

John Kilpatrick: The blessings and challenges of revival (August 19, 2001)

Marie Colwill: A passion for evangelism (August 12, 2001)

Lottie Riekehof: The Joy of Signing (July 22, 2001)

John Castellani: Teen Challenge: The Jesus factor (July 15, 2001)

Mike and John Tompkins: Publishing newspapers and proclaiming the Good News (July 8, 2001)

Chuck Girard: Music, marriage and ministry (June 24, 2001)

Stanley Burgess: The value of a godly father (June 17, 2001)

Dennis Franck: Single Adult Ministries Agency (June 10, 2001)

Thomas E. Trask: The work of the Holy Spirit (May 27, 2001)

Stephen Tourville: The changing church in America (May 20, 2001)

Margaret Columbia: Raising 17 children for Christ (May 13, 2001)

Donna Fahrenkopf: Wanted: a life change (April 29, 2001)

Sean Smith: Spiritual attacks on young people (April 22, 2001)

Josh McDowell: Is the Bible true? (April 15, 2001)

Joyce Meyer: Being a practical Christain (April 8, 2001)

Paul Drost: Multiplication (March 18, 2001)

Bill Bright: Fasting for 40 days (March 11, 2001)

Beth Grant: Women in ministry (February 25, 2001)

Alicia Chole: His people and His presence (February 18, 2001)

Cris Carter: Playing on God's team (January 28, 2001)

Randall K. O'Bannon: The value of life (January 21, 2001)

Dennis Gaylor: Secular colleges: a vital mission field (January 14, 2001)

Raising seven sons for Christ

(November 25, 2001)

Terry and Mary Inman, pastors at First Assembly of God in Fremont, Calif., have seven sons (Jeremy, 29; Tim, 27; David, 23; Jon, 21; Sam, 19; Jesse, 17; and Jason, 15). Mary recently spoke with Kirk Noonan, associate editor, about the triumphs and trials of raising a large family.

Evangel: What is your philosophy on parenting?

Inman: We started with our children held tightly in a closed fist. We made all of their decisions for them — they didn’t have any choices. But as they grew older we started opening the hand up slowly to allow them to make their own decisions. By the time they left home, they were ready to step out of our hands.

Evangel: Time management must have been crucial. What was your strategy for handling the everyday rigors of life?

Inman: We developed some elaborate systems to divide all of the chores between the children and myself. As soon as they were able to do anything, they were responsible for the chores they could do. We broke each task down so the boys could do their part, but we always made sure they were not overwhelmed.

Evangel: Describe a typical day in the Inman house when all seven boys lived there.

Inman: Constant words and action. On occasion I would tell them, "No more words, because Mom has to think her own thoughts for a few minutes." With that many children, there was a constant need for Mom or Dad to be doing something for at least one of them.

Evangel: That must have created some unique challenges for your marriage. How did you and Terry keep your marriage strong?

Inman: In order for our marriage to survive we had to get out of the house and have conversations that were not interrupted by the children. So we made that a priority. On most Mondays we would have babysitters watch the kids for at least a few hours so we could spend time together. Other times we had an overnight outing, which provided enough time away that I came back refreshed and energized.

Evangel: How did you make time for God?

Inman: I realized early on that I had to get up before the family got up in the morning. I just planned on it and had a place in the living room where I knelt at the couch and prayed.

Evangel: What was the benefit for the boys in being raised in such a large family?

Inman: They learned to share everything, including their parents. There isn’t as much money to go around when you have a large family, and I think that made it better for them. They never expected the world to hand them everything.

Evangel: How was it being the only female in a house of eight males?

Inman: I probably would have enjoyed more female-to-female conversations. But there are some great things about having all boys. They love their mother and that makes it easy to raise them. I didn’t have to go through the tough teen-age years that many mothers and daughters experience.

Evangel: How did you make sure each child received enough attention and love?

Inman: That’s the downside of having so many children — they don’t get as much time with the parents. But we made the most of every moment. If I went to the grocery store I took at least one of them with me. On Saturdays Terry would take them to the donut shop. We always tried to turn everyday happenings into special times.

Evangel: What are some tips you would give to busy parents?

Inman: Children need to be raised by someone who is deeply in love with them. That was my motivation for staying at home. I know not everyone can stay home, but we have found that my staying home has really paid off.

Evangel: What was the most important thing you wanted your sons to leave your house with when they had grown?

Inman: I wanted them to leave knowing that I was letting them go so they could become the men God wanted them to become. I also wanted them to carry a really strong faith in God so that when life knocked them around they would be strong enough to survive.

Evangel: When you look back on how you raised your children is there anything you would do differently?

Inman: Now that I am a grandma [the Inmans have five grandchildren] I look back and wish I had had more time to interact with my children. But I don’t live with regrets. Once our children are grown, there isn’t anything we can do to change what we have or haven’t done while raising them. We can only do the best we can do and let God redeem all of our shortcomings.

Evangel: What advice would you give to someone who was raised in a home where good parenting was not displayed?

Inman: Don’t believe that you are somehow flawed and will never "do it right." God is working on you and as He does He will help you develop parenting skills. When we come to Christ He makes all things new and He helps us to be better parents.

Evangel: How did all of you get to church and back on Sundays?

Inman: We had to take two vehicles. But the harder part was getting everyone dressed on Sunday mornings. On Saturday night we had the older ones lay out their clothes because there is nothing worse than a missing shoe on Sunday morning.

Evangel: Did you ever see God provide supernaturally for your family? If so, how?

Inman: There were some lean years because we had so many children. During those years I didn’t buy anything without talking to the Lord about it. But God always provided one way or another. We saved everything and rotated clothes from kid to kid and we tried to economize wherever we could even when we didn’t have to.

Evangel: What are some life lessons you learned from raising your children?

Inman: They taught me about the great diversity of God because they are all so different. I thought my second child would be like my first, but they all have their own gifts. God does not run out of creativity.

Evangel: Anything else?

Inman: I am so thankful I knew Jesus before I had children because He has always been there for me, encouraging and picking me up when I thought I wasn’t doing anything right. One time while I was cleaning those old cloth diapers and I was so frustrated I asked God when I was going to get on with the really important things in life. God said, "That’s what you’re doing right now."

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