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When Do Kids Truly Become Christians? Jackie Hill Perry, Barnabas Piper, Others Discuss

Jackie Hill Perry

Author, speaker, and hip-hop artist Jackie Hill Perry posed a question to her Twitter followers on Thursday about when and how Christian parents can know that their children have truly become followers of Jesus. The responses included childhood insights as well as people’s experiences as parents.

Perry tweeted, “Question for Christian parents: For those of you who have a child that was legitimately converted when they were little, how did you know when/if that happened?”

“I wasn’t raised in a Christian home and my conversion was very much ‘[Damascus] Road.’ I realize that conversion for those raised differently than me, like my children, isn’t as dramatic. If anything, it seems to show itself subtly and progressively. It’s interesting,” Perry said of her own experience.

Perry, who is the author of “Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been,” has been candid about the life she led prior to coming to faith in Jesus. From the age of 17, Perry lived as a lesbian and struggled with drug and pornography addiction until her conversion in 2008. She is now married to Preston Perry, and the couple have four children together. 

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Pastor and author Barnabas Piper, who is also the son of famed pastor and theologian John Piper, responded to Perry’s question by describing his own childhood experience with faith, which was quite different from Perry’s but perhaps similar to her children’s. 

“As a kid raised in a Christian home I don’t even know when *my* conversion happened. In retrospect it was more like the sun rising than like a light coming on,” Piper said. “That helps me understand my kids’ faith too.”

“‘More like the sun rising…’ That’s going to stick with me,” Perry responded. 

“Barnabas’s words about a sun rising rather than a light turning on is a very true and kindred statement,” someone else remarked. “I guess you could say I accepted Christ at age 3, but I did not bear fruit or feel comfortable calling my faith my own until I was at least 16 (really more like 18-20).”

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Some parents responded to Perry’s question by sharing the stories of when they definitively knew that their children had come to faith in Jesus. 

One parent shared, “Our son, unprompted, asked to talk to his Kids Minister one Sunday. He expressed a desire to be a Christian and was able to verbalize the concepts of sin and forgiveness (childlike). My husband and I were invited to pray with him as he became a Christian!”