Though Kai had withdrawn from his family, they continued to pray for him.
“I don’t want to and I don’t have to!” shouted Kai as he slammed the door and headed off for school.
His parents looked at each other and shook their heads in a helpless manner. Without a word they walked into the living room where their two younger children waited.
“What’s wrong with Kai, Mom?” asked Mila with a concerned look on her face. “He’s really changed.”
“Yes, I’m afraid he has, Dear. There was a time when he enjoyed family devotions each morning. Now . . .”
“Now we’re going to pray for him, aren’t we?” interrupted their father. “As soon as we read something from the Bible.”
After family worship, the other children left for school and the house quieted down. Gazing out the window, Mr. Teitzel sighed and said, “Honey, I think he’s at that stage when children question whether their parents’ religion is really what they want. He knows that this house is a house of prayer. God has blessed each of us, including him, for that reason. We’ll just have to keep praying that the Lord will open his eyes soon. He seems to be getting bitter.”
During the next few weeks, Kai drew back from his family more and more. He tried to get out of going to Sunday school, and refused to participate when he did go. The Teitzel household continued to pray for him. Their morning devotions brought them closer yet as they shared a common desire for God to undertake in this situation. On the rare occasions when Kai joined his family, he would sit back with his arms folded and pretend not to listen—even when his younger brother and sister would earnestly pray each day for their unspoken “special need.”
One sunny day Mrs. Teitzel sat on the porch reading the mail. As she read a letter from her sister something struck her. “Why,” she said to herself, “this may be the answer!”
That evening, she showed the letter to her husband. When he finished reading it, a smile crossed his face and then a serious look. After making two phone calls he turned to his wife and said, “Tell Kai we’re going on a little trip Saturday.”
After driving for several hours, Mr. Teitzel turned off the expressway and headed down a country lane that crossed a barren landscape. They had not told Kai where they were going so his curiosity was aroused. As they drove up to a massive gate, his father spoke to a uniformed guard. Then they headed toward a dreary-looking group of buildings and through another gate in a high wall. Finally, Kai leaned over the front seat and with an agitated voice asked his father, “What are we doing here? This is the State Prison!”
“We brought you here so you can visit your cousin. Jack committed a felony last year and is now doing time. We’ve kept it quiet until now for several reasons.”
Kai was skeptical and hardly spoke a word as they were led through many doors and gates. He cringed as each one slammed behind them, locking them in.
Through the thick glass in the visitation room, Kai and Jack engaged in light conversation for a while. Then Jack suddenly grew serious.
“Kai, I’m allowed only a short visit so listen closely. I’ve heard what’s been happening to you, so I asked my mother to arrange for you to come and visit me. I know where you’re headed because I was right there myself about seven years ago. I thought I had a better way . . . I wanted to be free. You know what I mean? My parents raised me just like yours are raising you. The Bible says that parents should teach their children the Word of God and pray with them and for them. But it’s up to the kids to listen. If only I had listened, if only I had appreciated the privileges I had in that home, I wouldn’t be in this place today. The Lord did have mercy on me and three months ago, right in my cell, I told Him I was sorry. He saved me! My soul is free, but I can’t leave this place for at least five long years. I hope my message is clear. I’ve got to go now. I’ll be praying for you.”
Kai didn’t move a muscle for several minutes after Jack was led away. When he turned to face his parents his eyes were filled with tears. The look on his face made his parents hope that very soon the whole family would once again be worshiping the Lord together.