Thursday, April 19, 2007

Children and ministry

In the documentary Beyond The Gates of Splendor, there is excellent footage of Elisabeth Elliot and her daughter Valerie living among the Waodani tribe. Valerie speaks of living among the tribe, and believing they were her family. More amazing photos here.

I have always had a heart for missions. In my younger days, I loved learning about missionaries, and even pondered being one in my early 20s. God had other plans, but I hope in the future I can do some short term missions. He might have bigger plans, who knows? I'm up for them all.

I am not a missions "expert", just a mom who has opinions. I think children should be part of your ministry, whether it be missions or at home ministry. They should be following along behind you, involved in service as much as they can be, learning to minister to others.

I love the footage of Elisabeth Elliot and her daughter Valerie among the tribe, because although to the world's eye, it might seem dangerous or irresponsible to bring your toddler to a once vicious tribe, it only seems natural to me.

One thing that I have been doing with some ladies from my church and bible study is a nursing home ministry. Once a month, we visit the nursing home, read a children's story, sing, do a craft, and just love on them with words and touch.

It's a wonderful way to involve my children in ministry. It blesses both the children and the residents of the home. I firmly believe if God calls you to a specific ministry, regardless the risk, don't you think He will protect you? And if He doesn't protect you in the way you think He should, isn't He in control of all things?


L.L. Barkat said...

Oh, you are still doing this? How wonderful. Where and when? (I know a few little people who might join you from time to time.)

Holly said...

Oh man, Andrea. That IS such a challenging film. Nothing but God can explain love, forgiveness, sacrifice and redemption like that!

I'm so glad God ministered to your heart through it - he certainly did mine!

I agree with your compelling thoughts on children in ministry - that we can not and should not seperate them from our lives - in any fashion. Excellent post!

Sara said...

Well said...fear/safety concerns have always stopped me from going on missions. Thanks for the perspective.

Trina said...

I completely agree that children should also be apart of a ministry. What better way is there for them to learn about the spiritual needs of those around them, wether it be across an ocean or across town. I would love to go on mission myself, along with my children. Such an experience would really open our eyes to so many things; cultures, depravity, poverty,etc...

tonia said...

I do agree, Andrea. When we were adopting through the state, some people told us horror stories, warning us that it would come to no good and our adopted child would be dangerous. I always had that same sense that you are talking of...if God has called our family to this ministry, then how can I let fear stand in the way? He will do what He will and I trust Him.

Thanks for the movie recommendation too. I'm adding that to my Netflix list.

AIMEE said...

I completely agree...we lived overseas for 2 years doing missions work before children and then took Sam overseas with us for 6 weeks when he was almost a year old. It was a beautiful adventure and one in which we never contemplated NOT having our children with us. I hope to take all of our children on overseas trips and we have always felt that one day we will go back for a longer term. I believe the Lord calls families not parents.

AIMEE said...

oh and I love the thought of nursing home ministry. I used to volunteer regularly in retirement communities in college and have been wanting to begin doing that with my children. I know they would love it and be lovers as well. Thanks for the encouragement!

Llama Momma said...

"I firmly believe if God calls you to a specific ministry, regardless the risk, don't you think He will protect you? And if He doesn't protect you in the way you think He should, isn't He in control of all things?"

Easy to say, hard to accept. Will I take my kids to the nursing home and the local food pantry? Of course. But what if God called me to the inner city? Not just to "do ministry," but to live? What if God called me to a war afflicted country? These are difficult questions, and though the answer may still be the same -- Yes, God -- let's not underestimate the intense struggle of this.

I'm thinking of Erika Haub from The Margins ( who lives and ministers in L.A. and tells stories of walking to the park with her kids, fearful that they may be hit by a stray bullet.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Growing up in a vocational ministry home, I think there is a balance. My parents lived their faith, so there was no real separation between "ministry" and "life." However, they did not force us to do anything "up front," or ever volunteer us for anything we did not feel comfortable with. When we were teens, there were times they let us stay home from have to be sensitive. Some kids love it, and others take time to grow into it (I was one of those).

Andrea said...

Very good point. Unquestionably, it is easy to say, hard to do. I would think if you were called to an area like that, then it would be a continual struggle to accept. I hope I would be strong enough to, given the chance.

Katherine--I do think you are right. For example, at the nursing home I have one child who is more outgoing and willing to talk and hug the residents, while the other is a little more standoffish. I will not push that child in doing what they do not feel comfortable with.
Those of us not in missional ministry, I think it's important to make an effort to be involved in some sort of ministry, *and* involve our children. Else, how will they learn? That was really my main point. I have mothers who don't want to go to the nursing home b/c they are afraid of germs. I understand that, it crosses my mind, too, but I have to trust Him,especially if I feel like God is calling me to go there.
Thanks for your comments on this, on noting that there needs to be balance. I agree and see where you are coming from.

Jennifer said...

I'm catching up here, as you can see, but I did want to comment on a verse that God has given me. There have been seasons that I have been involved in serving in a pretty time intensive, yet very fruitful ministry. I feel without a doubt that God called me there, and my service does involve a bit of sacrifice on the part of my children and my husband. They all support me, and in doing so, I think that they come alongside in serving the Lord, or at least in letting His word be proclaimed.

I know that some disagree with this viewpoint, but I think that if God has called you, He will provide for your family. He made this illustration for me when I studied
Gen 21:17-18--God hears and will care for the child.