“Go!!! Just Go!
As parents, we tend to think of all the obstacles associated with going as a family, but we are called to do hard things and pursue Christ in whatever it is He is asking us to do. It is worth it! Do it, not just for adventure’s sake, but also so that your kids gain a heart for the world and the people in it who have never heard of Jesus. They will learn things that they cannot learn from books. I’ve never met a family that regretted going. That does not mean that it will be easy, or that someone won’t get hurt or get sick … but it does mean that it is worth it!”
These are the words that Lauren* shared when we sat down with her to ask if she could offer advice for families considering going on a short-term mission trip.
Lauren and her husband George* live outside of their home country with their four children. They serve as mobilizers in Southeast Asia. We sat down with Lauren to ask about her family’s recent trip to Myanmar to visit two unreached people groups, and we were so encouraged by her responses. Lauren shared that George travels often and frequently gets to interact with unreached people groups, but they know that this is not just George’s calling … it is their whole family’s calling!
This conviction prompted their family, including four children, to hop on a plane–and then a boat–and head to the Shan State of Myanmar. On their journey, the entire family would serve both the Pa’o and the Burmese people.
Lauren and her family have experienced both the challenges and rewards of short-term and long-term going as a family. What might it look like for your family to participate in a short-term trip among an unreached people group?
Read on for a bit of our Q&A session with Lauren:
Q: What did you do to prepare your children for this cross-cultural experience?
A: “We sat down with the kids and walked them through what they would eat and different cultural do’s and don’ts. We spent time learning about what clothing we should wear so as to not be offensive to the local culture.
We also made a point to pray for several people groups in Myanmar. We even included little figurines from each different group. There was lots of prayer!”
Q: What did you do on your trip, and how did you involve the children themselves in ministry?
A: “We attended a few churches and encouraged the local pastors. George had opportunities to preach and I (Lauren) shared a testimony. At one church, one of our daughters gave a testimony, and another daughter and I (Lauren) got to sing.
One day, we took the kids to Yangon’s Golden Pagoda [huge Buddhist temple] and walked around it so that our kids could see people worshipping false gods. Then, we visited a cultural park and learned about traditional homes, food, and clothing of different people groups of Myanmar. There, we were able to get a few clothing pieces that the kids now use as a reminder to pray for the different people groups.
Another day, we traveled to a Buddhist village. There, we were able to work alongside a local couple who moved to the village to share the gospel. We supported their local work by serving at their kids club. Our children got to engage with local kids and share Jesus with them.
We also helped out at an English center. Each day, we were asked to lead in songs and tell stories. Then, we would divide into classes and teach English. Our girls were even given their own class and a book to teach from. The girls stepped up and did an amazing job teaching and expressing love.“
Q: How did your children grow through this experience? Are there any long-lasting effects that you see in your children or family as a whole?
A: “Getting to see and experience a place where hardly anyone knows the name of Jesus, and where believers are highly persecuted, has really affected our children. They all cried when we left, as they saw the depth and importance of what the cause of Christ is all about. They often ask when they can go back.
They also learned that they could do hard things- eating foods they didn’t think they could eat, walking through rice paddies to attend a church that met in a chicken coop –and not only could they do them, but they could find them life-giving and could long to do them again! This experience gave them a picture of what they might be able to do with their lives someday.“
For the Lauren and her family, going is not a one-time experience, but an ongoing practice that has become part of their family culture. They have visited other people groups in their region, and they hope to have the opportunity to go to more places that are unreached with the gospel. They are even considering ways to serve Muslim refugee communities in their country.
How about your family? Do you look for ongoing opportunities for your family to serve together in another culture, among people groups who have never heard about Jesus? God might even be calling your family to go, long-term, as harvest workers among the unreached in a different part of the world!
*Names changed for security purposes