Monday, July 25, 2011

Children on the mission field

One of the top questions we have had lately is how do we feel about raising our children on the mission field. I am assuming the reason we get this question so often is because of fear. People fear something happening to their children and fear not being able to offer them 'the best things' in life so they assume we feel the same way.

First of all, we believe that raising our children in the center of God's will is the safest and best place to raise them.


While some may view moving to another country as unsafe- I can assure you we are doing everything in our power to provide a safe life for our children.

Our power is the key word.

Because the truth is- while you and I can do all the 'right' things to make sure our kids are safe and healthy- in reality, there is only so much we can do. Whether we live in the comfy old USA or in a 3rd world country- things happen. People get sick- cancer rears it's ugly head, we break bones, and get in car accidents. They are a part of life no matter who you are or where you live.                      

Does it scare me those things could happen to my children? Of course. It scares me right now living in the USA. But what scares me more is raising my children in a world where they are constantly bombarded by the pursuit of personal happiness. Where 'the finer things in life' are constantly dangled in front of their eyes and where they are brainwashed into thinking 'things' are more important than people. 

We learned a long time ago that there are no guarantees in life- and we learned a long time ago that the Lord isn't so much concerned with our 'happiness' as He is our holiness. While we do need to be wise- we also don't want to stand in front of God one day and realize we missed out on the very purpose He created us because we were too afraid to really live.

While it's true the USA is considered the land of opportunity, I believe my children will experience 'other' opportunities while living in another country that many Americans will not. They will see things, experience things, and live things that are different than those living in the United States- but equally as good. They will learn to relate on a new level to others who are not like them and learn to appreciate those differences. They will learn to be fluent in two languages and learn how to step out of their comfort zones. They will experience different cultures first hand- rather than just reading about them in geography books. They will learn to be resourceful, flexible, and adaptable.

I think many people believe that by taking our children onto the mission field they will somehow be deprived. If being deprived means no more video games, cheer leading try-outs, cartoons, or fast food- then we are okay with that. While they may be giving up some things- I believe what they are gaining is so much more important. It's simply a matter of priorities.

We view our going to Guatemala as our family mission. The Great Commission isn't only for adults. Each one of us are playing a vital part in reaching the world for His kingdom. Each one of us will relate to specific people in specific ways. Each one of us have different strength and gifts the Lord has given us and each one of us will come into contact with different people. I have already seen my children touch the lives of people that I never would have been able to. Each one of us, no matter how old or young, are able to love and reach out to others. And, I think it's crucial we teach our children this at a very young age.   

More than anything in this world I want my children to know Jesus deeply. I want them to understand that life isn't just about their getting ahead- having the biggest house or the biggest bank account. Life isn't about being #1, being popular, the smartest, the greatest athlete, or the best looking. It isn't even about our personal safety our comfort. It is so much more- and most of us are missing it.

 There is world out there full of people who are hurting and lost. A whole world out there who's only answer is knowing Jesus personally. You and I were put here on this earth to be His hands and feet-to tell others about Him...not to spend our days trying to prove WE are worthy. We were given life to show others His love- regardless of who they are, where they were born or whether they deserve it or not. If my children discover how to love others regardless of social status, ethnicity, diseases or ability to give anything back- than I truly believe we have succeeded in giving them the very best in life.

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26 comments:

Jessica said...

Amen!

The Greenfields said...

so true. excellent post. my husband and i are are missionaries in the Middle East. Both our children were born there. We've been back in the States for a furlough but return on Saturday and we get questioned all the time- how can we take our children over to the Middle East, isn't it dangerous, etc. but I agree with everything you said- I am thrilled to be able to raise our children in another culture and see them develop a love for people who are not like themselves. it's not to say that following God's call to the mission field is easy- it's NOT easy but it's DEFINITELY worth it. Blessings to you and your family on this new chapter in your lives!!

Angie said...

Amen! Though we've not lived on the mission field, we have lived overseas, and it's a HUGE eye-opener as to how much we have in this country...not always for the better! Your children will learn so much. Can't wait to follow this journey as you arrive at your destination.

Pharmcats said...

I truly believe more Christians would do SOMETHING if we 1)got out of our comfort zone and 2)realized the potential we have in Christ (2 Peter Chapter 1). Our family has only learned this over the past few years–and we are slow learners. I wish it would’ve been sooner. We just got back from a family mission trip to Guatemala with our 2 kids age 8 and 10. We decided as a family to forgo the beach vacation for 2 years to afford this. We painted, did VBS activities, participated in medical and dental clinics, etc. Our kids got to meet our sponsored child for the 1st time! All I can say is, it was life changing for us. Our kids are already trying to earn money to go back next year.

the_blissful_mommy said...

THANK you THANK you THANK you THANK you, Amy. As always, you are steps ahead of me but writing my own convictions on this blog and sending it via the internet back to me. I am sorting through all of thise myself and have these same thoughts and conclusions - THANK you for sharing and for gently explaining that taking our kids on the mission field isn't hoping that they'll somehow merely survive but believing it's God's BEST for them. We aren't sacrificing them for the greater good. We are following Him and our kids are a part of us, so they follow too. Needed this today to put in my back pocket for the future :) Love you! Esty

The Beasons said...

Our family lived in a war torn region in Uganda, Africa to help an Orphanage.....my four boys were in heaven after the initial adjustment and youre right they learn to adapt and go with the flow. And yes people asked when we announced we were going to UG. as missionaries if we were going to take our children.....it shocked me! So I am going to help orphans but leave my own? We told our kids we are all missionaries, not just Mommy and Daddy. And yes we went through some boughts of malaria, and snakes in our toilet or yard (all deadly) but I knew God had called us and he would keep us and he so did!
I just tell families to know God is calling them....when times are hard you need that "you called me I'm staying" power over fear.
God bless your journey....it so excites me to see other families going out into the world.

woosterweester said...

Girlfriend, THAT'LL PREACH! I love: "The Great Commission isn't only for adults..." So true, and thanks for reminding me of that today with my own children. Thanks for your last email. We are behind you all the way! Praying for protection, favor, blessing, provision, and divine appointments for your family. God bless you guys!

Rory

Melissa G. said...

You ar so right. Your children are going to grow up with a different view point and some wonderful experiances.
I grew up in Senegal West Africa and I know it's made me the person I am today.
One thing I think would be a big help to you and your kids is knowing about Third Culture Kids. TCKs are kids who spend time growing up in a country other than their parents home country. I think knowing what I know now about thrid culture kids would have helped with the adjustments of growing up in two countries. Just to know that what i was feeling was normal.

Here's a link to the book with more info if you're interested... http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1857885252/84-20/

Joshua and Hilary said...

Well said! LOVE it! I agree 100%!!! As my husband and I are earnestly praying about where and how God would have us GO (in Africa) once we get Isa home (currently adopting from Ethiopia).... this is something we often talk about! How much better it is to be in the will of God, rather then "safe" in the world's idea of what life should look like! As ya'll embark on this journey, please know I'm praying for each of you- I love that God will accomplish much through your willing hearts and I pray that your courage will inspire more to do the same!

valerie in TX said...

So very well said. I agree so much with all that you wrote. The thing I struggle with knowing how to do is teaching all those things to my kids when we are NOT missionaries. It's so hard to do when life is FLOODED with all the "luxuries" and peer pressure and advertisements, etc, when we're NOT in another country or culture. I can talk to them all day long, and even give them opportunities to serve others, but somehow it just never seems to sink in.

Susan said...

Inspirational! Thank you!

Kylee said...

Amy, I have missed your blogging so much! I read a lot of blogs, and find myself getting excited every time I see you have a new post. You see, you are a woman of integrity...you say things as they are, not afraid of what others might think, and then you carry it out in your life. That is so encouraging to me!

I've found myself thinking a lot lately about the benefits of raising children in other countries. I'm 18, and probably won't have a family of my own for several years, but when I do, I wonder if the Lord might have me spend some time with them overseas. I look at my 4 little siblings, and am so scared for them as I see everything society is pushing into their heads. How I desire for them to know Christ and seek Him with everything they are! Then, I look at myself and am equally as afraid for the lies I have bought into. On the days I have the audacity to walk into the pantry and complain that we don't have my favorite lunch food. Or when the house is not cooled or heated just as I like it to be. I see those things in me and am disgusted. How I desire to abandon me and seek Him!

I don't know exactly what the Lord has for my life, other than that He has shattered my heart for the orphans. I do know, that in a way, He is using you and this little space to minister to my heart in big ways.

Sorry this was a novel. Thank you for being real and vulnerable. Your children will indeed rise up and call you blessed!

Leveta said...

So true,so very tru.Every child I have seen that have been raised on the mission field have a totally different attitude about things than other kids.They have told me how much they miss their friends there and that way of life when they are in the US visiting different churches etc.
Leveta

Amber said...

Yes, ma'am. I am totally supportive and I totally understand your answers to the WHY. And I'm also very CONVICTED. Trust me, girl, your awesome decisions for your family are pushing me to do more for mine! YOU GO GET 'EM, IN JESUS' NAME! :)

Praying and Hugging,
Amber K

The Tiny Team said...

I love it! I think children can learn more on the mission field about what is truly important in life than anywhere else. I think too, being in youth ministry, that kids who "have it all," often suffer and have such large barriers in their life to truly knowing and loving God, which is really the point of all of this thing called, "life," isn't it?!

I support you (haha, there's one stranger, at least, right?!!) and think you're kids will be so blessed, as well as the people you will be ministering to!

xo,
Amy

Jill Samter Photography said...

AMEN! So beautifully said - we love standing with your family and watching Him move mountains for you and through you!

XOXO

Heidi said...

This post is worth its weight in gold - well said!

Amber said...

(Kylee, I have to tell you this-I'm so blessed by your words at your age!! You are ahead of the game, sister, and I fully believe that your siblings will follow in your footsteps! Hang in there, girl, it's obvious He's at work in you!!)

Jennifer said...

I agree with Kylee. Amy, you are a woman of integrity. I am quite certain that I do not want my kids to "fit into" this world. Fielding the questions is part of the journey of grace. Well said.

The Beaver Bunch said...

We have six kids (with 1 on the way) ages 7 yrs and younger and we are heading to Kenya, East Africa next year.

People ask us all the time, "Are you taking your kids?"

I'm dumbfounded.

Thanks for reading my diary (again) and posting the words straight from my heart. I linked to this post.

Blessings to your family!

Renae said...

You have convicted my today! Our Sarah was in the hospital for a day and I immediately thought there is no way I could take her where I COULDN'T get good medical care...that's faith for ya, huh?;) So amazed by your faith and heart! Keep preaching sister, cause we're listening!;)

Singing Pilgrim said...

<3 !

The Ellis Family said...

You have expressed what my husband and I have been feeling. We leave in a few months for Papua New Guinea with our two kids- 7 & 8. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who has been asked if the kids are going! =)

Our kids are just as excited as we are. Yes, they see this as a missions opportunity for them, too, not just mom & dad.

Erica said...

So needed this. BEAUTIFULLY written and exactly how we feel. AWESOME!!! Praying for you guys!!

Sharon said...

So many of my feelings in your writing. Thank you for putting it into words. We're in a bit of a transition time as a family and waiting to see what the Lord has next for us.

Kat said...

Hi! Can you email where to begin the process of moving my whole family and how we can work in the missionfield? I want so badly to uproot but dont know where to begin. Im currently finishing my undergrad with hopes of getting into med school so I have something to offer when we move. My kiddos are 2 & 3 now. Are there any resources thati should get a hold of? Thanks! Email tigerbelle201@gmail.com

Kat