Hannah served in Nairobi, Kenya for three years, mobilizing university students. Although she found students eager to engage in opportunities to learn and live out God’s mission, she often encountered parents whose apprehensions about missions inadvertently hindered their children from responding to God’s call on their life. Could family mobilization be the missing piece? Find out what she discovered.
Q: How did COVID-19 impact your ministry? What opportunities did this season bring?
A: “The government shut down all school activity and university campuses were deserted almost overnight. I needed to consider mobilization methods that were not confined to campus. One avenue was family mobilization. With the closing of school, students returned “upcountry” to their rural homes where their immediate and extended family lived. This presented the unique opportunity to visit my students’ homes, build trust, and cast mission vision for entire family units.
When mobilizing students, I frequently encountered parents who viewed mobilization as a threat. The social expectation is that children go to school, find work, and begin supporting the family. Values of prestige, financial stability, and security were intimately tied with parental resistance to missions. Yet these values were taking precedence over Jesus’ Great Commission to His followers.
My challenge became finding ways to honor and respect these principles while communicating that living missionally is not at odds with family obligations. Family mobilization felt like the missing piece in seeing my students fully grasp and live out a Great Commission-focused lifestyle. What was initially demoralizing became an enormous blessing.“
Q: Please share about visiting a student’s home.
A: “I had been discipling Synthia for about a year. The eldest in a single-parent household, Synthia felt great responsibility to her family. As Synthia’s desire to reach the nations grew, so did her anxiety about her family’s reaction. We agreed that an intentional visit to her home might help in communicating her aspirations in an honoring way. We stayed in Synthia’s home for two days, enjoying cups of Kenyan chai, getting to know her mother, sharing stories, and building rapport.
This extended time allowed for many conversations. I shared how 3 billion people in our world have little to no access to the gospel and how the church lacks a sense of urgency to reach them. Synthia shared God’s plan for His people and His desire for believers to partner with Him in seeing the gospel message delivered to the ends of the earth.
Since many decisions are made with input from extended family members, I also visited Synthia’s aunt and grandfather and had similar conversations. Synthia’s mother was not convinced in a single moment, but she was beginning to understand the Great Commission and warming to the idea of Synthia leveraging her life for the sake of the gospel. Currently, Synthia is preparing to enter mobilization ministry. We hope the vision of reaching every tribe, tongue, and nation with the gospel has taken root in her family!”
Q: How might parents hinder their children from responding to God’s call on their lives?
A: “Naturally, parents want to protect their children. Many of their reactions are fear-driven—fear of the unknown and fear for their child’s safety. Wanting to keep their children safe from perceived harm or wishing them to be successful in the traditional sense may cause parents to be apprehensive about missions, inadvertently obstructing God’s call on their child’s life. Discovering God’s heart for the nations and the reality of the unreached is a pivotal moment in one’s faith journey. The added weight of navigating resistance and disapproval from family members can be utterly disheartening, even to the point of abandoning the ambition to live a missional life.”
Q: What might change if entire family units were mobilized together?
A: “If parents have the potential to hinder their children from responding to God’s call on their life, then they also have the potential to be incredible champions of this call. When family units are mobilized together, they can respond to Jesus’ words in loving community, rather than isolation. Family mobilization offers unity where there may have been discord, an opportunity to learn and grow alongside one another, and to support one another in life’s greatest endeavor—the gospel preached to the ends of the earth!”