Leslie and I have four daughters. God has blessed us with these girls, we love them so much! We believe God has a plan for each of their lives! There are things we want for our girls, things that all parents want for their children. We purposefully invest time, instruction, money, and prayer to help them grow up to be the young ladies God wants them to be. Parents want their children to grow up to be responsable, to work hard, to be successful, and to enjoy their lives. In addition to all of this, Christian parents want their children to love God and know Him as Father, to be faithful to a Bible believing church where they worship, grow, and serve, to be a faithful witness of the Gospel of Jesus, and to be good stewards of all that God has given them. These are common things we all want for our children. As missionaries, Leslie and I want all of this and want our children to love the ministry. Whether God leads them into full-time ministry or not, whether they serve the King on the foreign mission field or in the States, we want them to love the ministry and be burdened for the mission field. So how do we do this?
First off, it is important to remember that children will grow up and will ultimately decide things for their future. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. This is biblical truth, but we need to understand what it means. When we train up a child in the Truth, it will always be with him, whether he live for Jesus or not. But, as they grow up, they will be responsable to make their own decisions. So there is nothing we can do to guarantee their love for the mission field.
But there are things we can do to help them. Here are a few that are on my mind…
- Don’t complain about the field where you serve. There are a lot of things that go on that are not easy. To add in a foreign culture and language, it is a recipe to complain. Don’t do it. Don’t just “not complain in front of the kids”, don’t complain at all. This means we must have a distinct outlook on things.
- Help them see the positive things about ministry and about the field where you serve. If you love where you serve, you will be able to share that with your kids. We serve in Argentina and there is so much we can enjoy. The food is incredible! We have amazing places to see in the country, including the second largest waterfalls in the world, the Andes Mountains down in the Patagonia, the beautiful coastline, the green pampas, and the rolling sierras. The people are kind and we have made friends. We focus on those things. No matter where you are, there is always something to complain about, but also there is always something to thank God for in the name of Jesus. We choose the latter.
- Teach the biblical principle of contentment and live it out as an example. Philippians 4:10-13 says, “10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” This was Paul’s testimony, and we can learn a lot from it. First off, we understand that contentment is not natural, it is something we must learn (vs. 11). We are sinners and as sinners we struggle with being content. But it is something we can learn. Second we learn that contentment is no related to how much we have, or how much we lack (vs. 12). We can think, “If I just had more money”, or “If I could have the car that my neighbor has”, or “If I were more healthy”, if we could just have these things we would be more content, but nothing could be further from the truth. Contentment is not found in what we have. Lastly, we learn that contentment is found in Jesus (vs. 13). In Jesus, we can be content in all things, in the good and in the bad, with a lot or with little, and anywhere, whether in the States, or on the foreign mission field. We can be content, and we should be!
- Make time for your kids and be patient with them. The kids need their dad and mom, so make time for them. When they do have hard times, or when they struggle with culture shock, love them through it. Be patient and walk with them.
I am so thankful for my family and I want them to love where God has us. They are not missing out on life by living on the field, the opposite is true, they are blessed to be able to live in another culture and serve Jesus by helping start Bible-preaching churches on the foreign field.