This past weekend Angela and I had a conversation about our priorities for the coming summer. We have a lot of opportunity during the summer ranging from rest and relaxation to teaching, conferences, and missions. We involved our two oldest daughters in the conversation. What quickly emerged as priority for our family can be summed up in one statement: “We have to go back to our UPG (unreached people group) and our new brothers and sisters there.” This familial zeal to serve the world with the gospel actually was birthed in our living room through conversations and prayer.
Several years ago our family, along with others in our church, forged a partnership with a people group in the Middle East that has little access to the gospel. From the beginning we involved our daughters, first in praying and fundraising, then in going and serving. The idea began with a very visual representation- a map displayed on the International Mission Board website that illustrates gospel access globally by people group. We prayed and chose a people with little access to the gospel that God seemed to give us an affinity towards. Angela and I made plans to go to these people as soon as possible. After a long journey we were turned away because of heightened conflict, particularly in the part of the city we needed to access.
We returned home with an even greater passion to see the gospel penetrate the walls of war and religion for these people. Eventually, we met local believers in the region in whom God had planted a burden for this same people group. What emerged was a center for women and children that meets physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and offers the gospel. In a beautiful turn of events, the gospel is now trickling, like slowly dripping living water, into the neighborhoods that once had no access to the hope of Jesus.
Involving our children in every step of the process has developed a passion in them for unreached people, and for Muslims in particular. Over the past two summers, our oldest daughter served in the center for women and children. Two years ago, Angela and I took her with us. Last year she went with a small team without us, as a leader. This year, four members of our family will put hands and feet to our prayers as we serve in the center for women and children together. Though this has not been an easy journey, it has bolstered our faith in God and shown us the power of the gospel to shed light in difficult to access, dark places. Our family, for generations, will be impacted, inspired, and activated for global missions because of this experience.
If you want to cultivate a passion for global missions in your family here are some steps you might consider:
- Identify and take responsibility for a people group with little access to the gospel.
- Involve your children in the initial stages of prayer and fundraising. Having the opportunity to see God at work will build their faith. God has always supplied every dollar we needed to engage.
- Make the journey with your older children to meet the people God has laid on your heart, even in hard to access places. Trust God to lead you to a believer in the region who He is burdening for the same people group.
- Return often to serve and support through the relationships your family will build over time.
- Cast a long-term vision. As a family, imagine returning to your people group with your grandchildren some day.
Perhaps these five steps seem impossible to you. At first, they did to us as well. Start with steps one and two and trust God for the rest. You will be amazed by His power and His love for people who have not yet experienced the saving grace of Jesus.