Story Behind The Hymn, “The Family of God”

Bill and Gloria Gaither are faithful members of a local church in Alexandria, Indiana, and the church body is very dear to them. A young family in their congregation, Ron and Darlene Garner and their three children, inspired the writing of the Gaithers song The Family of God.

As Gloria tells it:

It was the Saturday after Good Friday that Ron went in for work at the garage where he was serving as a mechanic. He was making up time that he had taken off the previous Thursday to take his little daughter for some tests prior to some anticipated heart surgery.

While Ron was working with combustible material, there was an explosion. He managed to crash his way through the large double doors before the building blew apart and went up in flames, but he was severely burned over most of his body.

Ron was alive but was not expected to make it through the night. Within minutes a chain of telephone calls alerted the family of God, and the whole church began to pray for Ron. Little groups, bigger groups, in homes, at the church, over the phone.

The church building was kept open, and lights burned all through the night as a steady stream of folks who cared and loved came to talk to Jesus about this young father.

Easter morning the sun rose on a sanctuary filled with a bleary-eyed congregation. The pastor came in with a report from the hospital. Ron has outlived the deadline. The doctor says he has a chance.

For the Body of Christ, that news was better than eight hours of sleep and a good breakfast. New life was infused into us all. Tears of praise and joy began to flow, and our hope and gratitude poured itself into the glorious songs of Easter. Jesus lives, and because He lives, we too shall live!

With the words of victory we pledged ourselves to what would lie ahead: help with the children, many long trips to the hospital, blood for transfusions, money, mealslong months of support while the healing process went on.

On our way home from church that morning Bill and I were so full of the beauty of it all that we could hardly speak. Finally, we said to each other what we had come to realize through all this: Theyd do that for us, too!

It was almost too good to realize, but it was true! We arent very model church members. The function we fill in the Body of Christ takes us away from a lot of the activities of our congregation. Were never available on Fridays and Saturdays. We arrive early on Sunday mornings to get our children to their Sunday school and church, but we cant be counted to teach a class with a schedule like that.

But they’d do the same thing for us if we were the part of the Body that was suffering! Not because we were worthy or had earned special treatment or were indispensablebut just because we were a part of the Family of God!

As I started dinner, Bill sat down at the piano. It wasnt long before the magnetism of the chorus Bill was singing drew me from the kitchen to the piano, and we finished the song that was to feed us better than any other food.

The Family of God Hymn Lyrics

(1) I’m so glad I’m a part
of the family of God-
I’ve been washed in the fountain,
cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus
as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family,
the family of God.

(2) You will notice we say “brother
and sister” ’round here-
It’s because we’re a family
and these folks are so near;
When one has a heartache
we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory
In this family so dear.

(3) From the door of an orphanage
to the house of the King-
No longer an outcast,
a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches,
from the weak to the strong,
I’m not worthy to be here,
But, praise God, I belong!


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