Family Values, Media Culture
When Ron and Katie graduated from Oral Roberts University, they were both already baptized in the Holy Spirit and had a commitment to spreading the gospel. They got married in 1984. Uncertain of God’s assignment for their lives, they felt in 1985 they should purchase two airline tickets and take a trip around the world to spread the gospel.
While in Indonesia, the couple fasted and prayed and realized that God was calling Ron to a specific area of ministry. “God was putting a love for teenagers in his heart,” Katie says. “The Lord told Ron, ‘Build Me an army of goers.’ ”
But Katie was called to focus on the couple’s newborn baby. She quickly realized the difficulties of juggling both motherhood and ministry.
“I was traveling one night with Ron and some of the kids we were taking on a ministry trip, and Hannah cried most of the night. I was sitting there thinking, This is so hard. I looked at her, and in my heart I said, You are ruining my ministry.
“The Lord said, ‘Your ministry?’ God told me, ‘She is your ministry.’
“I looked into her precious brown eyes and thought, I have really, really missed it. The Lord began then showing me that each person has a right, a God-ordained right, to be loved and cared for. I know my ministry flows out of my family.”
The Luces are grateful for the divine wisdom they have received over the years. In fact, the couple decided early in their marriage to teach their kids godly principles by developing a list of core values that they as parents would subscribe to.
“We didn’t want the culture to raise our kids, so we created a culture in our home that was stronger than the culture in the world,” Ron told Charisma.
When the children were very young, the couple created a list of core values and gathered the family together to discuss what they called “The Character of the Luce Family.”
The poster-size document was written in calligraphy to resemble the U.S. Constitution and included a place for each member of the family to sign his or her name. The kids thought they were getting a new toy or a pony, but after Ron and Katie unveiled the new document, they explained to their kids what each value meant:
“Honor. Each of us should learn to control ourselves in a way that is holy and honorable (1 Thess. 4:4); Respect. Show proper respect to everyone (1 Pet. 2:17); Honesty. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth (Ps. 86:11); Responsibility. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men (Col. 3:23).”
Today Katie admits that she was sometimes a little critical of her kids but says God would quickly remind her of the covenant she made with Him and the children to abide by the values of the Luce family. When she would point the finger at her kids, she says, the Holy Spirit would convict her.
“The Lord told me if I want them to respect me and respect each other, then I need to treat them with respect,” she recalls. “Mothers set the tone and temperature in the family, and they have to embrace, be loving and have the law of kindness.”
Growing up in a home free of negative cultural influences meant the Luce children could not own cell phones or iPods, have televisions in their bedrooms, or listen to music whenever they wanted until they were older; but Charity, who is a student at ORU, says she and her siblings are better for it today. “It wasn’t always easy, but my parents would always listen to what we had to say, and we have a strong relationship because of it.
“I sometimes slip away with my dad to go for a run or have breakfast. And my mom is so amazing to be able to pull out the best in people.”
The Luces’ son, Cameron, traveled with his father to Uganda in June to visit orphans, and to meet with key leaders in hopes of starting a Battle Cry event in Africa. “I have had many adventures with my dad,” Cameron says.
Ron and Katie admit that their unconventional method of raising their children is somewhat unique compared with society’s, which favors letting young people do what they want.
Ron believes the new perpetrator preying on teenagers today is as close as the family computer, cell phone or television. “Every time we let unsupervised media into our homes and into our kids’ minds, we invite a terrorist into our homes,” he writes in his book Recreate: Building a Culture in Your Home Stronger Than the Culture Deceiving Your Kids.
Hannah, who also attends ORU, says it will require some getting used to for families to pull away from a culture saturated with media but that parents must set the standard in the home.
“You have awkward moments in families because you are not used to being together and talking. Parents have to ask themselves how much media they are watching.”
Many parents don’t realize they are turning over the parental reins to their children by not knowing their kids’ viewing habits, where they go online, and the friends they hang around with when they’re at school or away from home.
But the failure to parent allows kids to discover all sorts of influences that can lead to a life of negative consequences, says the Rev. Dwayne Lewis of Pine Hills Community Church in Orlando, Florida.
Lewis supports the Luces’ stand because he knows all too well the state of teenage America. A youth minister for more than 10 years, Lewis says the ill effects of a generation high on media show up every Wednesday in youth groups all across the country. Parents simply don’t realize the battle that’s going on in the lives of their children, he says.
“Parents must determine how much access their kids will have to the Internet and the broader culture. They must draw the line and set a standard in the home. Parents are the first line of defense in the culture war.”
Says Ron: “We see brokenness and depression in teens, and at that age you’re at the center of your world. We have a culture that teaches us that, really, you are the center of your world and whatever feels good, whatever is fun for you, whatever is convenient for you is OK because you have the right to be happy.
“Parents without hope should cancel a bunch of things and spend nonconfrontive time with their kids ... and woo their hearts.
“Every time I hold a hurting kid, I feel like I’m holding teenage America in my arms.”
Now Ron and Katie are helping to raise another generation of kids—who also want to go against the grain of culture. And many of them come every year to the Luces’ rolling east Texas property to fulfill that purpose—to be transformed by God and equipped for spiritual battle.