It was a fun and eye-opening weekend staying with some “new” friends in one of our supporting churches. The family was not only hospitable, but down-to-earth. Plus they knew what a missionary faces while traveling. They were formerly missionaries as well to a Latin American country. Their home was full of novel surprises because of all the travels they and their family had done. In addition, I stayed in an old farm house rich with character and homeyness. One funny thing about the house was the bathroom on the second floor. Obviously an addition to the facility, the shower was just tall enough for me to stand it (at 6 foot 2 inches I am not that tall). But standing in front of the toilette was not quite so successful. The ceiling was too low!
We talked about places in Peru that my hostess knew, and some of the places I too had visited. She detailed the strange things she had seen in Guatemala at the ruins of the pre-Colombian civilization. One of the most startling was the many old convents that were abandoned and left for foxes and beetles. The city people of Quetzaltenango use the abandoned convents for weddings. After all they sure look romantic. At least no one will bother you there during the ceremony. The rich Hispanic culture in Central and South America provides hours and hours of material for conversation!
In the lengthy conversations, there was a more interesting point that surfaced. It had to do with their children and their grandchildren (of course, grandma’s bragging rights!). The point that got me thinking was this: those who choose missions as a career do so hardly ever in spite of their family. On the contrary, many choose missionary life as a career with encouragement from their families. While not a hard and fast rule, that factor became more evident in the conversations and the visits made during the past weekend to families and friends in the church. If God’s plan for missions in the local church is to thrive, we need not only a pastor and a missions committee standing behind the missionary and the future recruit to the mission field. In addition, the concern and the knowledge of missions passed on in the home, by parents who are sensitive to God’s will for the cause of missions world wide becomes a watermark in their choice to serve Christ overseas.
Today the cause of world missions seems to get lost in the shuffle of church life and family pressures. Many families rarely take time to talk about, to learn of or to pray for God´s world wide cause. Could it be that this trend makes choosing a career in missions a less favorable option for our youth today? If the opposite is true, that parents and grandparents who encourage a world consciousness and a missions awareness, foster young adults pursuing life time overseas and missionary involvement. Then the lack of interest in the cause of world wide evangelization leads to teens and young adults being fearful, disinterested or passé toward the same.
Allow me, as a parent and as a missionary, to challenge moms and dads with the value of highlighting God´s work around the world. This means we need to spend time ourselves reading about missions. We need to ask substantive questions of visiting missionaries. It should be part of our family prayer time and our family devotions that we pray for not only missionaries but missions causes. Prioritizing the cause of Christ world wide fosters a healthy environment for more missions expansion. More importantly, it leads to the moving of the Spirit of God to stir hearts and minds and imaginations of young, would-be missionaries.
After all, if God´s Church will ever fulfill the task that lays ahead, BOTH the church and our families must be involved. Children learn to prioritize and to value those things that their parents do. Start young with the joy of seeing God at work not only in your back yard, but across the street and around the block. A vision for the world starts at home.
David L. Rogers, M.A. Min