We attended a wonderful missions conference this past weekend and we came away with many challenges and a few frustrations as well. Aaron and I have been excited about the work of the Lord in the nations since our teens, as we both have been on several missions trips growing up, and God has really implanted a heart to see the nations come to fear and honor our Great God and King. Missions is not limited to those who God has called to the field, we are all called to be a part of missions! Missions is the extension of God’s kingdom to the ends of the earth! It is the gathering together of worshipers from every tribe, tongue, nation and people. It is God’s heart!
What happens though when we are encouraged to set our children aside and pursue our own ministry? Are Christian children jumping ship now because they have not caught the vision of ministry as a family?
Integration of Family in Mission
One session I attended was titled, “Raising Kids on the Mission Field” and the aim of the class was to supply us with tools for how to make a smooth transition. I was eager to hear from an experienced mother on some practically ways I can adapt my children to the field in the future. I was sourly disappointed to discover that her main emphasis was to relate how she sent her children to boarding school and they preferred being with their friends than working together in ministry in the areas God had called for them. She said she would have to drag the kids, kicking and screaming, to do family ministry together because they would rather be with their friends.
At the end of the session, I asked, “would you have considered homeschooling? And do you think that would have made any difference in their attitudes towards serving together?” Her response added to my disappointment. She basically said she never considered that idea, and it would have be difficult to minister if she had been homeschooling. Did I hear you right? Are you saying that God gives us conflicting obligations? God calls mothers to be mothers! How can this be separate from the family mission?
In another session I heard how one church was striving to increase a mission heart in its members. The one problem was they were taking the youth group to Mexico, the middle school students were serving downtown handing out meals, the elementary students had their own service project. I commend their efforts to serve, but what every happened to integrating the family? Where are the fathers and mothers? Are they serving in some other capacity, separate from their children? How will this passion for the establishment of God’s kingdom be passed down to the next generation if we are not working together with our children in serving the poor and needy. Are these children seeing it walked out in their parents lives if they are always divided?
The Foundation of Our Society
America has lost its value of the family as one of the primary institutions for a successful society. Without this fundamental establishment, every other aspect of society is falling apart. We are sending children away as much as possible, their own school, their own Sunday school event, youth group, etc. Where have all the families gone?
Keeping Family a Priority
I strongly believe that being raised in a homeschooling family has been key to building strong family relationships in our family. We were forced to make our siblings our friends (not to say we didn’t have others outside, but the siblings were around us constantly, and we had to decide whether to live in constant rivalry or let it all go and just enjoy being the closest of friends!). I treasure my sibling relationships now (it wasn’t always like that though, I attribute it to the grace of God in my life). I love the ways we served together as a family. We were not dragged to it, kicking and screaming as this woman described. What made the difference? Keeping family first!
My parents placed a priority on family time. We placed a priority on serving together. If one of us was invited to serve in some capacity, we had to include one of the other siblings. If one of us was invited to an event or activity, we always included one of the others. Family night on Fridays was held highly. We couldn’t miss this special night focused on family activities. We took trips around the country in our trailer, and these are some of the best memories we have! God has instilled in me a love for children, why? Because I love my siblings…I want to have as many children as the Lord would bless us with, because it was so fun! I want us all to be able to serve together in the mission that God calls us to. My first priority is to my children and not to leave them behind. This is a high and holy calling!
Thanks for letting me vent…
The Russia Team – families serving together! Aaron & I participated along with two of his brothers, one of which is married with a little one along too, my mother, two of my sisters, and others. This is one of my favorite memories!