International (MIS/MNN) — The following is an enlightening perspective from a missionary with The Mission Society:
What is it like to rear children cross-culturally? How do you respond when people, including close family members, question your parenting skills because you moved overseas with young children? How do you deal with the day-to-day dangers of living in certain areas?
Because these questions are near and dear to our own hearts, we asked one missionary couple to weigh in on these common concerns related to rearing families overseas. Here they share their journey as they sought God’s will for their family amid cross-cultural ministry, and how God deepened their faith in the process.
Before we had children, I was pretty adamant that having kids would not affect our call to minister cross-culturally, and particularly in a least-reached area. Then, sometime in the first year of our daughter’s life, concerns began to creep in that I had hidden away. These concerns were multiplied by the voices of others, particularly family members, who were not comfortable with the situation in which we live–and our daughter’s safety.
I really had to press in to God and ask Him how He felt about these concerns. Having prayed and processed this issue quite a bit, here is my advice to young families considering cross-cultural ministry.
We are ill-equipped to give our children absolutely everything they will ever need and to prevent any bad thing from touching them, no matter where we live. There are dangers everywhere. I have discovered that I can be more comfortable with the familiar risks that America presents (car crashes, etc.) than with all the unknown risks of my new country. But that doesn’t mean that one location is actually more risky than another.
In truth, these points are a response to the symptom of this issue, rather than its actual cause.
The real issue is this: do I really trust Jesus with my children?
I’ve come to understand that I do. But it took some processing and some honesty on my part. Also, importantly, I’ve realized I would rather my children learn what it is to be obedient to Jesus than to learn what it looks like to fear man more.
The thing that God used to free my worrying heart from all these concerns was that He would take much better care of my children than I could, no matter where we are. I am evil,and yet desire to give my kids good gifts. And He is perfect! So how much more so can He give my children? It does not matter where we live.
I believe, though, that each parent will have to seek God about this. Press into Him without relenting until you get a truth from Him that will stick through the hard days. And He will give it. I have no doubt.
This couple has two children and they minister in a least-reached area. Their names have been withheld for security purposes.
Whether you’re considering heading out to the mission field with your children or are missions-minded, take time to pray for families on the mission field. You can check out missionaries with The Mission Society here to pray for specific families.