With my father being in international sales, his stories from the Great Wall, photos of the real Little Mermaid in Denmark, and then joining him on a family trip to Germany between my freshmen and sophomore years of high school, my young imagination came to life for what the rest of the world looked like. And it felt contagiously wild.
The great beauty and adventure, however, were sure to be saved until I, too, was a traveling professional. But after graduating from high school, I was surprised at the spontaneous invitation to travel with a group of 11 other students and friends, between the ages of 16 and 30. I traded in my global ideals for an introductory missions trip to Peru.
Since my inaugural mission, I’ve since had the privilege of partnering with families and organizations from Jamaica and Cambodia to Bolivia and South Africa. Each experience and every relationship have implanted humility and global awareness in the core of who I am and I am incredibly grateful for that.
I recently sat down for barbeque with one of the pastors at our church, his wife and their family. As an 18 year old youth group graduate, Kathy, was on a missional tour of Africa. She knew, even before then, that missions would always be a part of her life. Nate was the son of a Senior Pastor, and had multiple opportunities to serve, or be a part of missions throughout Mexico and Ecuador.
After meeting in college, they were married and had agreed to full-time missions in Russia. That was until the government took back the renovated camp and they were forced to return to the United States. For the years following, they have tried their hand every which way to go back. “For years, I’d recite Isaiah 6:8, ‘Here I am, send me’. We kept trying to leave but He said, let me bring the mission field to you. We had two girls of our own, and eventually adopted our two boys. Then it made sense”.
Prior to knowing each other, both Nate and Kathy spoke about the influence of their youth pastors to explore family missions. “We never thought about not including our families one day. It seemed like the only option”, chuckled Kathy.
“When we had our first child, it was a natural rhythm of our family to bring her with us on mission trips. She was 3 months old with colic on her first trip to our partner church in Mexico.” They continued to share about the gift it has been to raise their daughters, and now their two young sons around people who look and speak, act and smell differently.
With about 15 years of monthly visits to San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, bringing food to those bedridden, providing care to the sick, and aiding in educational resources for a partnered school, Nate and Kathy have built the value of family missions into their family’s DNA.
“The influence and norms have planted seeds and we’ve seen the fruit blossom with our oldest daughter choosing to spend her Spring Break in Tanzania this year”. They agreed that with the undenying pressure from social platforms and our ever-waving culture, it is imperative that as parents, we raise our children with the gospel of Jesus, and the importance of others in all we do.
Maybe right now, your mission field is within your home. You may be the only Believer in your family and God has called you to serve at the dinner table. You may have been born with the urge to see remote parts of our globe and God has given your family a knack for languages and the resources to be there. You may be a teacher at your children’s school and they witness the way you pray for those students. Wherever your family is, may you be encouraged in the work God has called you to.
Their Best Don’t Advice for Us
- Don’t go to just serve other people; go to learn about others.
- Don’t wait to be a certain type of Christian, just go.
- Don’t fight your kids’ take-aways. They’re living their own experience.
5 Books for the Missional Family
1. After the Trip by Cory Trenda and Tim Dearborn
2. The Missional Mom by Helen Lee
https://www.amazon.com/Missional-Mom-Living-Purpose-World/dp/0802437869/ref=pd_sim_14 _2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0802437869&pd_rd_r=516d2c27-86e2-11e8-94ad-0d6a86c107 a2&pd_rd_w=PF1Yz&pd_rd_wg=Hak7o&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DE R&pf_rd_p=7967298517161621930&pf_rd_r=S9T3TRVGTHGDEW9PW3TV&pf_rd_s=desktop- dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=S9T3TRVGTHGDEW9PW3TV
3. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
4. Window On The World (for kids!)
5. The Mission-Minded Child
https://www.amazon.com/Mission-Minded-Child-Raising-Generation-Fulfill/dp/1932805885/ref=p d_sim_14_4?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1932805885&pd_rd_r=516d2c27-86e2-11e8-94ad-0d 6a86c107a2&pd_rd_w=PF1Yz&pd_rd_wg=Hak7o&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=ATVPD