I want to be an effective missionary, I think every missionary wants to be effective. It is all about pleasing Jesus! I started a series a few weeks ago on how to be an effective missionary, this post continues that series. I think it is important that a missionary includes his whole family in the ministry. This can be a controversial statement, but I believe they are missionaries too! If God calls a man to be a missionary, his whole family goes with him to the mission field. He should bring his family along with him. People disagree with this, but I want to make my case.
We started the Faith Baptist Church in Lanús, Argentina. I am the founding pastor of the church, but I did not do it alone. Leslie and our girls all have served from the very beginning! They passed out flyers and invitations, they set up and took down chairs, they cleaned bathrooms, swept floors, talked with visitors, and did anything else possible in the services. Leslie has spent countless hours serving in the church. She has stayed at the door welcoming people in, she has cooked countless desserts and other foods for special fellowships, she has lead in the ladies ministry, even when there really wasn’t one, she has spent hours sitting across a table from other ladies in discipleship and counseling, and done so much more that no one will ever know about. I am not a lone missionary, I am part of a missionary team, I serve alongside my wife, and our four beautiful daughters. I don’t know if they will be missionaries when they become adults, but as for now, they are.
Some have pushed back and said that the man is the missionary, that the woman or children are not missionaries. If that is so, then the wife and children our missionaries through the God’s calling on the man’s life.
Someone might say, “But if a man is a Sunday School teacher, that doesn’t make the whole family Sunday School teachers. But that isn’t the same thing. When a missionary leaves for the field, his wife and children go with him. The children engage in a new culture, they start learning a new language, and they help start the churches that the missionary starts. They are doing the work of the missionary, they are living the life of a missionary, therefore they are missionaries! That doesn’t mean that they should be held to a different standard or be under some type of extra pressure, that is taking it too far. It is an honor to be a missionary, and they should know that God has led them as a family, in other words, they are not just along for the ride.
This mentality, that the family has been led by God as missionaries under the leadership of the husband/father, will effect every part of the missionary’s life. Deputation is not something that “dad” just does, it is something the whole family is a part of. Learning a language is a challenging process that brings with it all kinds of emotions. Add on top of that learning and adjusting to a new culture and you have a recipe for discouragement and loneliness. But the missionary family gets to go through it together! That means that when one feels discouraged, or is having a bad day, the others can come alongside him/her and lift him/her up.
I have not done everything right. I have made plenty of mistakes and I have paid a lot of “stupid tax” on the mission field. There is one thing I have done that has been a difference maker, since day one I have led my family to understand that we are in this together! We serve Jesus as a family. We are missionaries and it is an honor to serve Him where He has led us! Because of this, our daughters love Argentina! They love the culture, they love the people, they love the food, they love the church we have planted! Leslie and I love it all too! It might be that our girls grow up and move back to the states and serve Jesus faithfully in their local church (which would make us very happy), or it maybe that God continue to lead them in ministry in a foreign context, but either way, for now they are missionaries in my book, and I couldn’t be happier about it!
There is no better team on earth than your family whom God gave you! Serve Jesus as a family, help them understand that they are missionaries too, and that what they are doing honors Jesus. Missionary friend, bring your family along with you in each part of the missionary journey, if God has called you, He has called them to be with you, serve Jesus as a missionary family.