Friday, June 4, 2010

FAQ: How Could you Take your Children onto the Mission Field?

by Stacey

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive is how we could subject our children to the dangers of the mission field such as malaria, lack of access to good medical care, and so on. Here are some of our responses to these questions:

1. We Unashamedly Love Jesus more than our Children.

Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

At first glance, this is a shocking verse. One might be thinking “how can Jesus command me to love my neighbor and then tell me I have to hate even my own children in order to be his disciple?” I believe the answer is that I am to love my neighbor as myself, but I am not to love my neighbor as I love God. My love for God is to far surpass my love for my neighbor…so much so that my love for my neighbor, or my children, even looks like hatred in comparison to my love for my Lord.

Jesus demands first place in our affections and reminds us to not let our love for our children take this rightful place.

A great example of a father who loved God more than he loved his son was Abraham. The Lord went so far as to command Abraham to offer his son Isaac to him as a sacrifice and Abraham obeyed (until an angel stopped him right before he was about to kill his son). Interestingly, we do not see the Bible condemning this father for "blindly" following the Lord at the expense of his family, but instead he is heralded for his great faith in God (Heb 11:17-19).

And so, if Abraham proved his love for God through being willing to kill his son, how much more free are we to simply ask our children to grow up in a "foreign" country? We want our kids to know, loud and clear, that their parents love the Lord first and are committed to calling others to love him to, even if these others happen to be living in poorer regions of the world.

2. The Primary Expression of Love for Jesus is Obedience to Him.

Jesus commands us to love him first and he said how we can prove this is through our obedience to him (John 14:15). Before he went back up into Heaven, he gave his disciples the duty to carry news of him all over the world. We believe that duty falls into the lap of the church in every place, at every time. Thus, as we have grappled with this great call, we believe that our love for Jesus needs to move us to action towards the least reached in the world. This obedience is how we express to Jesus that we love him and that he is first in our lives, even before our own children.

3. The Great Commission is not just for Singles.

Jesus' command to his followers to go out into all the world and make disciples was not just to people who are single and have less to loose, but this commission is given to the church as a whole and it is her duty to obey this charge and make disciples of all nations. Jesus gave this command knowing that many children would be taken all over the world as their Christian parents preached the Gospel.

4. We are Convinced that Being Parents who are Faithful to Christ is the Best Thing we can do for our Children.

We want to care for the nations as the Lord does and we pray that our children would not only see this love in our words, but also in our deeds.

5. We want our Children to know that to be a Christian is to Suffer.

We must not forget that to be a Christian is to suffer. As Christ suffered for us, we are to follow in his steps of suffering (1 Peter 2:21). We do not want to communicate to our children "be safe no matter what" but instead "seek first God's Kingdom no matter what." We do not want to them to see us pursuing our own ease and comfort but instead we hope that they see in us a commitment to God's Kingdom even if that comes at a personal cost.

6. America is also a Dangerous Place to Raise Children.

I think it is easy to ignore the dangers in our home culture and only see dangers when looking at another culture. But, if we take a good, hard look at America, we have to acknowledge that there are dangers there as well. Take internet pornography for example. This is a serious problem that Christian parents try hard to be on top of. Here in Cameroon, however, our neighbors do not know what computers and the internet even is. And the internet connection that Dave and I use is super slow. So, I do not foresee this being a point of temptation for our children while they are still living in our home. Are there other dangers here? Absolutely. But we traded one set of dangers in America for another set here in Cameroon. I think we should be very careful to give spiritual dangers, and not just physical dangers ample consideration. America is not Heaven and perfect safety for our children is not guaranteed until then (should they believe). Thus, we have no moral problem moving our children from one unsafe place to another.