About 15 years ago I wrote an article about Rachel and her participation on five mission trips. In trip photos, Rachel was always smiling and serving alongside the other team members. She helped her mother cook meals for the team and entertained a young child whose parents were leading a Bible study for the villagers. Rachel was bilingual – a communication skill that helped her contribute as a team member. The unique aspect of the article was Rachel’s age–she was only six at the time.
Rachel obviously came from a mission-minded family. (In fact, her father was on a mission trip to Mexico when he met her mother, a teacher in one of the churches where he was ministering.) I know Rachel’s family well and have watched her grow up. I have seen the family take every opportunity to be involved in God’s work – not only serving on short-term trips, but also opening their homes to global workers. Rachel is now an adult, wife, and new mom. Recently, I asked her if those trips made a difference in her life. Here is her response.
Growing up in a mission-minded church with a family who went on trips was so great! My favorite time of the year was when we had our mission conference at church. I enjoyed meeting the global workers, hearing their stories, and learning what God was doing around the world.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a global worker, and it’s something that my husband and I have talked about doing in the future in some way. Going on mission trips was a great way for me to personally see how God is at work around our country and the world. It has led to my having a desire to serve God however I can. I hope to take my own kids on mission trips someday.
More and more churches are offering mission trips where parents and children can serve together. Rachel participated in family mission trips at an early age. Her parents gave her small tasks to do which made her part of the team. The experiences have had a long-term effect on her as she and her husband start their own family and look toward the future.
What about your sons and daughters or the children in your church? Are you willing to offer them such opportunities? Here are some suggestions for creating such a legacy in your home and church.
- Offer to help your church develop family mission trips.
- Be willing to go and take your children.
- Make your children part of the team, giving them age-appropriate tasks.
- If your church does not have a mission trip program, you may have Christian family members or friends in another country. Ask if you can come for a visit. Find out if there is a way your family could help. (My granddaughter marched in a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland when she was 10. She helped hand out fliers that announced the debut of a new Christian radio station – the first one in that country.)
- Train your children in an ongoing way. For Rachel’s parents, it was not easy to travel and minister with small children, yet to them these experiences were worth the effort. They wanted their children to have a first-hand knowledge of what it looks like to be a global worker.
Rachel’s parents intentionally cultivated a love for serving God around the world in their family. The result is a young adult who, along with her husband, is still mission-minded today. What about your family? What might be the fruit of such intentional efforts to introduce your children to God’s world and work?
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)