When I think of a verse to describe my almost 10-year-old son (named after King Josiah and sitting on his “throne” in the picture above) and the way he relates to people, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)
When I think of a verse for my six-year-old daughter (the dancing one on the far right in the picture), “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances. So Miriam led them: ‘Let us sing to the Lord, for He is greatly glorified.’” (Exodus 15:20-21)
As you can observe from these verses, both of my children have different personalities. Each one unique. God has given them both to us in order that we may raise them to be disciples of Christ. A disciple is someone that lives in communion with God and by virtue of this expresses this life by mission to others. Therefore, what must I do to make this a reality? Even though my husband and I live in the mission, we must be intentional to raise missionaries and disciples of Christ.
“The primary lesson in life must be implanted in life from an early age. The primary lesson in children is to know the eternal God the One who gives everlasting life.” – St. Clement of Alexandria
When they learn this lesson to know God, the natural outpouring is to live a life of mission and service to Him. There are many ways we are intentional in teaching this lesson. Years ago, I wrote a blog on my “Mom blog,” about how we take our children every few months to visit the homes in the poor communities. These lessons are invaluable in raising future disciples of Christ.
They have a chance to do something outside of themselves, out of their comfort zones, to touch the hearts of others. They are usually tired and thirsty, walk long distances along dirty roads, and still they serve. It is amazing to watch my son teach the little children basketball skills, help distribute clothes, organize a skit, and then share a verse in the Bible. It fills my heart with joy to see my daughter help with games, make sandwiches, be a mean soldier in a skit about Jesus, then read aloud her favorite Bible story from her children’s Bible.
They struggle but it is a great lesson in raising missionaries.
When they see us struggle to serve others, they will learn that not everything in life is just about having fun. The struggle makes them stronger. Sometimes, like you, I want to protect my children from struggling and I want to make their lives easier because it is hard enough as it is living across the ocean or because their dad is a priest. I can make many excuses why I should “reduce” the struggle. But the struggle is part of their growth. Becoming a disciple doesn’t happen without the struggle.
When they see us having fun in service, they will enjoy it too! Yes, we struggle but we also enjoy serving God. We can have fun! Our children join our Servants meetings on fun outings and retreats. Around Feast days, we usually have a fun evening with servants that includes Bible quizzes and activities. My little ones happily join in, answering questions, and even getting some right! They share in eating lots of delicious food afterwards too. Service can be fun. Giving to others can fill us with joy as well. That is true joy a disciple of Christ should learn.
When children see mission as a part of our lives, they will make it a part of theirs. Lately, we have seen many parents bring their children to Africa on a mission trip. It is great to see more and more families choosing to do mission together. Even with children as young as 5! Even though we live in the mission, we still have to find ways to get out of our comfort zones and serve as a family. Last year, we took a family trip to another province about ten hours away to help build a new church. In addition to help build, we worked as a family and bonded through our service. We even had fun moments of sharing a small bed all together in one room. These memories of mission and serving together builds a foundation for a disciple in Christ.
When they see our inner life with Christ, they too will desire that inner life. Do they see you read your Bible, pray, and go to Church? Do they see you do your Quiet Time? Do you have a Family Altar at home, a corner or room in your home dedicated to prayer? This inner life is where growth happens in us and in them as well. Where a life of mission and discipleship is born.
When they see us give our very best, they will give the best to others. Recently, the children in our little community decided to take gifts and other things from their homes and make a little stand to sell to raise money for the poor. I was surprised to find both of my children selling their most prized possessions that they bring from the States – their Fruit Snacks! They knew these little snacks from America would be big money winners! (My 6-year-old also used her pocket money to buy the fruit snacks she donated!). They taught me a lesson that day to give my best even if it is not for myself or my own family.
When they feel that they can help in the service, they won’t feel second place to the service. A few years ago, I met a beautiful soul whose dad was a priest. Getting tips for my PK’s, I asked her how did you stay close to your dad especially with his busy schedule and through your youth years. She mentioned that she served with her dad. She happily drove him around to his nightly meetings and Bible studies. That was their bonding time as Daddy and Daughter. And he always made her feel that he needed her and couldn’t do it without her. Serving others is part of her life now. She loves God, others and the Church.
As we approach the season of giving with Thanksgiving and Christmas, let us use this opportunity to raise disciples and missionaries for Christ.
If you need ideas to get your family going, this link has 100 ways for your family to make a difference! I love that it includes local and international ideas and works for all ages. If you would love to help our orphans here in Zambia, you can donate using Meant 2 Live Foundation. This Season would be a great time as a family to do something for someone else!
We don’t have to have an agenda with others. But we do have to live our reality. And that reality is caring for others and being the Light of Jesus wherever we go. To break our selfishness by looking outward. As parents and teachers, this is our chance to raise a future generation of disciples and missionaries for Christ.
Mission Assignment: Decide together as a family who and how you will help someone in need this Season. Let us know what you decide in the comments below.Tags: Christmas, comfort zone, disciples of Christ, family, Home, missionary kids, season of giving, service, thanksgiving