First, watch this short clip showing how Missionary Kids (MKs) really feel about growing up on the field.[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYVnLC9m9JQ[/embedyt]
In the last week, I have been exposed to two very different articles regarding missionary kids. In the first, young adult missionary kids (mks) shared the positive and negative aspects of growing up on the mission field. In the second, a missionary mom shared some lessons she has learned over the years and argues that her children are “not little missionaries”. Both were very interesting and took very different positions on raising kids in ministry. The young adult mks generally felt that being involved in their parents’ ministries and immersed in a second culture was a blessing. The missionary mom felt that her children should not have been forced into a second culture and language or “required” to do ministry. So how to decide what is right for my children? I have seen both of these positions and still do not have the answer.
But I do feel that the bottom line is this: God has entrusted my children to my husband and I and we are responsible to Him. We must, therefore, do what we believe God is directing us to do in raising them. How much should they be immersed in a second culture? How much should they be involved in our ministry? The Bible doesn’t lay that out for us. And each of our children is so very different, with different talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts. So it won’t look the same for each one. It is easy to be critical of other ministry families who we feel aren’t doing things “right”. But as parents, we only get one chance at this so our energy should instead be focused on seeking God DAILY and following His guidance every step of this parenting journey.
One of the ways I feel this needs to be played out is making sure that our home is a safe place. While I certainly hope it is a safe place from danger, that is not really what I am referring to. I mean that our home should be a place where our children feel it is safe to share their thoughts, feelings, and fears. A place where they can be themselves, respectfully disagree with us, make mistakes, and constantly grow. A place where they can bring their friends, where other people are welcome. A place where learning to know God is constant, where Scripture is permanently shared. The scarier the world outside is, the more “safe” our home should feel. Regardless of what country we are in, what language we are speaking, what ministry responsibilities we have, our home is our home.
So while I struggle through how much to immerse my children in culture, how much ministry to involve them in, etc., I know there is one thing I can do right. I can make our home that “safe place” for them and together we can seek God’s direction for the rest. And we can make sure that as we are instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6,7… “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Watch the video below to get a glimpse of what missionary kids (MKs) are saying about growing up in full time ministry in another culture!