Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raising My Girls to Have a Heart for Missions: Getting to Know Missionaries

I must admit that I'm a bit hesitant to write today's post.
Not because it is untrue, mind you, but because it could be misunderstood...
And really, who likes to be misunderstood?
So please, take this as it was meant to be taken and not as a shameless pitch?
Thank you.

One of the best ways I know to raise kiddos with a heart for missions is by letting them get to know missionaries.
Sounds kind of funny coming from a missionary, but it is so very important.
My children see their lives on the mission field as completely normal, and missionaries here in Ghana as normal people.
But what about missionaries in China or Alaska or Morocco or Finland?
Those kind of missionaries are completely different {to them}.
Those missionaries eat strange foods and speak an odd language and wear different clothes {to their way of thinking}.
Those missionaries are doing something totally different {in their minds} than they are.

When we are in the States, I hear the same statements and questions over and over.
....."I couldn't be a missionary!"
....."I could never live there!"
....."Only a special person like you could do that job!"
....."I'm so glad God called you, I'd hate to live so far away!"
....."You have to cook everything from scratch!?!; I couldn't do that!"
....."You have to homeschool!?!; I couldn't do that!"
....."Do you have to eat weird food?"
....."Do you wear weird clothes?"
....."I couldn't learn another language; I'm not smart enough!"
And the list goes on and on.
As a missionary, I learn two things from statements and questions like these....
1) The person asking does not know any missionaries personally.
2) The person's children may easily get the impression that being a missionary is a hard and scary thing that is only for super-Christians.

One of the most important things I can do to raise my girls with a heart for missions is for our family to get to know a missionary personally.
As we get to know missionaries personally, it encourages a natural desire to know about the field where they serve, the people that live there, the interest people in their country have for Christ, their prayers requests, concerns, trials, and victories.
It will make foreign missions come alive to them!

For those who live in their own home country, this is particularly important.
When one never leaves the country of their birth, never sees a different way of life, never experiences a different way of speaking and thinking, it is easy to assume that missions is for "somebody else" to do.
But if you get to know any missionaries, you'll soon find out that they are ordinary people just like yourself who have chosen to obey God's call to do something extra-ordinary. 

Here are a couple of ideas to get you and your family started in getting to know some missionaries:

1) Every time a missionary comes to your church, spend a little time talking to them.
Visit their display table, if they have one. Look at their pictures. Ask them questions.

2) If you meet some missionaries that you seem to "hit it off with", ask for their email address.
Get their postal address. Follow their blog. Friend them on facebook. Find ways to connect with them.

3) Haven't met any missionaries lately? Look through the prayer letters or list of those your church supports. Start by sending an email or a note. You may just find a new friend.
And if you don't "click" with the first missionary you write to, or they don't write back?
Go to the next one on the list. Keep going until you find a missionary family that you can get to know.

4) Try to find a missionary family that is similar to your own. Look for those who are in the same season of life, same number of kids, same age of children. It's easier to get to know somebody that you feel you have something in common with.

5) Find a country or region of the world that you and your family are very interested in. Once you've picked one, start searching for missionaries that are ministering in that area. Learn all you can about that part of the world and those who are reaching those people for Christ.

6) Adopt a missionary family. {This is any idea from one of our supporting churches.} Every year, the people of the church choose a missionary family to adopt. They find out each family members' birth date and send cards. They try to send a Christmas card. They send a note about themselves. They pray for the missionary's prayer requests. Sometimes they send a small gift. Simply, they choose to get to know one missionary family and make them "their own" for the year.

Just a few thoughts, but maybe one of them might spark an idea for you and your family!

I'll be writing about this topic for the next 40 days {we're almost done!}.
I'd love to have you join, and I'd love to hear how you and your family get to know missionaries.

Would you like to read the entire series?
Start here.


  1. Another great post!!!! So many terrific ideas!

  2. These posts are a good idea. Looking forward to reading them. I tried your biscuit cinnamon rolls this morning, and our family liked them too. I was wondering if I could repost or link to the recipe from my blog.


  3. Love the adopt a missionary idea! We did that when I was a teenager in our Teens class. It was an amazing experience. I will have to mention this to hubby about maybe doing with our SS class. :) I know when this missionary family comes to our church when on furlow, there is still a special connection, and we did the "adoption" over 15 years ago, maybe as much as 20 years ago!

    I think it is important to note that there are families, like mine, where we see a lot of pastors and missionaries within the family, so it almost becomes "expected" to serve the Lord as a missionary or a pastor/pastor's wife, and people can feel guilty for NOT feeling like God wants them to do that, but instead feel they should be a layman in the church or a SS teacher, etc. I think it is important that we teach our kids that EVERY area of service to God - SS teacher, bus worker, missionary, deacon, pastor, choir member, nursery worker, prayer warrior - is important to God and is a calling all its own. We should get to know someone in EVERY area so that we can see the truth behind the service, just like your advice to get to know a missionary personally. Things can appear one way, but you don't really KNOW until you get to know someone. :) Sorry to get off topic, but I think it relates in its own way, and I'm sure you'd agree that it is important, too.

    Anyway, great post, and I'm loving these ideas. Love and miss you all!