One of the things that my husband and I had in common when we met was a heart for missions. Didn't know how but when we got married, we both felt that missions was somehow in our future. After several years of marriage, we finally prepared "officially" go to the mission field. We were on deputation for five years attempting to raise support. After five years, we realized that God was closing this door.
After God closed that door, He took us through a wonderful, faith-filled journey of adoption which is a story of it's own. Little did I know that when I became a mother, I was truly entering the mission field. The mission field of parenting.
Think about it.
1. Unsaved Souls: Anyone who's dealt with a child knows they are not "tabula rasa" but a sinful sinner. My husband used to ask where our daughter learned such things. Sorry honey, she's just skilled at being unsaved. Just like any unsaved person here or abroad, my daughter needs to learn about salvation through Christ. Thankfully, their eternal destiny is up to God, but He's put us in a place to be tool in helping to bring that about (and hopefully not hamper it!)
2. Foreign Culture: Whether your three year old is talking about their imaginary friend or your 13 year old is talking about Hannah Montana (Blah! I just gagged as I was typing it.), there are aspects about childhood and teenagers that are completely foreign to us. Sure, we lived in this culture a long time ago (some of us longer ago than others), but we just don't get it anymore.
3. Foreign Language: If U no w's^ then XLNT but 2 me it's 511 so SYL8R @ *$.
4. Hostile and/or Reluctant Natives: I'm sure it's only my child but sometimes trying to communicate anything including the Truth is like beating my head against the wall. How many times have I told her the same thing? Excuse me, but did I just see an eye roll? Time to get out Proverbs 30:17.
5. Testimony: Sure, a testimony can be something you share verbally, but even more so it's something you share by living. As a missionary (or a Christian for that matter), I am called to walk the walk; to set an example of a life enjoying and glorify God forever. Truth is there have been a few times when I respond to my husband in a disrespectful way. Then I grieve because I know the way I submit to my husband is an example of how I also submit to God, and my daughter has just seen poor example of both. Hopefully, I remember to set a good example of asking for forgiveness.
6. Finances: We struggled with getting support when we were on deputation, and sometimes we still struggle with finances on the mission field of parenting, as well. Some sources say that it costs over $200,000 to raise one child. Besides meeting basic necessities, it's our God-given responsibility as missionaries to determine the best way to spend that support. Don't get me wrong; my girl does gymnastics and ballet, so I'm not against outside activities, but we do need to evaluate things. As a missionary, we are responsible to make the best use of the funds for the Kingdom of God.
7. Support System: Any good missionary knows the importance of a helpful, supportive, and praying sending agency and supporters. They stand with you in faith and truth. They encourage your growth and hold you accountable. They can identify with and pray about your everyday needs. These can make or break a missionary on the field and also with the mission field of parenting. A good church that supports, not replaces, our role as parents is mandatory. Knowing and reaching out to others who are either "in the trenches" with us or who have "been there, done that and got the t-shirt to prove it" can make a big difference.
I think sometimes in the midst of rearing (sometimes literary) my child, I forget that God has made me an overseer of an eternal soul. Isn't that what a missionary is after all? A person who wants souls to acknowledge Christ as their Savior. For some reason, I was placed in her life "for such a time as this" as her own personal missionary. I pray that I make the most of this opportunity and not forsake my first missionary field.
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