One of Global Fellowship’s core values is “Family on Mission.” This one is very personal to me because my family is on mission together and I feel the reality of this value each and every day. Having kids and working in missions is a complex and amazing thing.
We strongly believe that kids are not a hindrance to ministry, they are an asset. Our children get not only a front seat to the work God is doing around the world to redeem the lost but they often to get to play an active role in that as well. Every time we are overseas visiting and encouraging our missionaries we are reminded of this truth. Little kids draw in people like we would have never been able to do on our own as adults! They minister to missionary kids in only ways that kids can, they play with local kids who don’t even speak their language on the playground and help open us up to conversation with their parents. They set our kitchen table time and again as we have missionaries in our house for dinner or host a family who is considering going overseas. When I’m tempted to feel like my kids are “in the way of the work” I remember how clearly Jesus set the model for children’s capacity for Kingdom work. He didn’t underestimate their value the way we can sometimes. He knew they saw kingdom truths clearly and without all the insecurities that adults bring into it. I shouldn’t be, but we’ve been blown away time and again by how much our kids have blessed us and others while doing ministry with us. Jesus not only didn’t exclude children from his ministry, but he also gave them active participation. Jesus used a child’s lunch to do one of the biggest miracles we see in scripture. I often think about how cool that was for that little boy to witness!
When I begin to stress that my kids are being loud while we are training missionaries or that I’m upsetting my kid’s life by taking them all over the world, God gives me gifts of his presence along the way. While we were on our knees praying for our missionaries all over the world, our 2-year-old was going from person to person touching them and “bothering them” (I felt at first), then he came beside me and got on his knees and began imitating our prayer. What a great picture I was getting of how my concern to usher the little ones out was shut down at this moment and replaced by let them be here.
Does this mean that there aren’t meetings I miss because my kids were fighting in the other room or important deep conversations that were had overseas while I was back in a hotel room trying to sooth a jetlagged baby? Of course not! As with all parts of parenting, inviting your whole family to be on mission together comes with its own challenges and hurdles. But with such a beautiful and valuable outcome.
Kids play a huge and important part in the missions world, for they are the very next generation of Gospel sharers!