Are Missionary Kids Missionaries?

Recently I read an article on Christianity Today (click HERE to read it) that both challenged me and expressed some parts of my reality. (You’re going to need to read that article before the rest of this post makes any sense…) The central question is: What is the role of family in Kingdom ministry? The answer that the article concludes with is: IT’S COMPLICATED. Yeah, that about sums it up.

When we first moved to Uganda, my wife’s role in Kingdom ministry was keeping our family healthy, sane, and moving forward. My daughter’s role in Kingdom ministry was figuring out life here and grieving all that she had left behind. Both of these were essential to our family and ministry, even if that didn’t include ministry activities. The first time we took our daughter to visit a friend in the village, she became so overwhelmed that she hid in the car for 30 minutes crying, waiting for us to leave. The next time my wife visited one of our village churches with me, we left our daughter in town with friends because we didn’t think she was ready. That’s because: IT’S COMPLICATED.

Over time, both of these things have grown and changed…sometimes. My wife has become very involved in ministry, leading her own discipleship groups, visiting her friends in different village, attending leaders’ conferences, helping at our daughters’ school, and much more. She still very much organizes our home, and her first priority is still keeping us sane and healthy (as is mine, by the way), but our steady adjustment has meant that she can be MORE involved in other ministries. Which she loves!

Our daughter has also grown more comfortable with ministry. Most of the time she doesn’t fear visiting the village anymore, and will sometimes ask if she can go with me. Her hospitality for village leaders at our home has also grown. Now she greets them and knows many of them by name. She absolutely adores the mission staff and frequently wants to spend the day at my office when she doesn’t have school. But she also still has times when being the center of everyone’s attention overwhelms her and she just wants to blend in. She can still become shy when greeting people she hasn’t seen in a while or doesn’t know very well. On the other hand, when one of my very good friends who is a village pastor comes over for supper, she talks his ear off and loves to play music with him. And his daughter and my daughter love to play together when we go to his village. So yeah, it’s a little bit of both.

But most of the time, I still visit my village friends without my family, even after 3 years living here. Because IT’S COMPLICATED. We try to not divorce ministry from lifestyle, and so not create a dichotomy of life where “Ministry becomes something outside the home. The home is dedicated to family.” But we also know that our daughter didn’t have a voice in the decision or discernment to this ministry call because she wasn’t old enough to understand. And our home is our refuge and comfort place.

“Family life abroad is complex and individual. This leaves little room for pride or judgment and a lot of room for learning. Rather than conforming to a façade of the perfect ambassador for Christ, missionary families live out the truth of grace, forgiveness, and redemption.” (see linked article)

So we try for a healthy balance in our lives, but many times we still feel self-conscious about it. We’re not perfect, and we don’t have it all together. (For those of you who know me well, that’s just stating the obvious.) This is one of the very real and active challenges we experience here on the mission field, and we are grateful that so many people love us, pray for us, and encourage us on a regular basis. So, thanks for that!

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Ministry Is NOT All Roses

Before moving to Uganda three years ago, I was in youth ministry for 11 years. And I loved it! But I learned very early on that ministry doesn’t always go as you plan it, and at times it can be discouraging, frustrating, and even down-right crushing. We don’t always talk about it and it doesn’t make for great newsletter reports, but the reality of ministry is that many times, it can be TOUGH.

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Death Sucks

This post is a bit delayed because it took me several attempts to get my thoughts written down, and it still doesn’t capture the full expression of my feelings…

But, death sucks! I think we can all equally say we hate it. Even when we can celebrate the long life a person lived or know that person is going to be in heaven, it still sucks for those of us who are still here on earth.

What do you do to get through it? What do you do to mourn? How do you move forward? Continue reading

Life Goes On

One of the hardest things about living overseas is the amount of family and friend fun stuff we miss. Graduations, weddings, birthday celebrations, new babies, vacations, parties, and so much more. We know we can’t complain because we chose this life and we don’t regret our decision. But that doesn’t make it any easier when it feels like the world is moving on without us. And of course the world is moving on.  And so are we. Continue reading

Word for the Year

So I’m not fully sold on the concept of having only one word for the year, as I feel like God moves so much in a year and I don’t want to be constrained to one word. But I like the concept of focusing on something God may teaching me rather than feel scattered by all the possibilities.

As I woke up early one morning (not by choice), I was reading my daily devotional and the word that came to mind for me at this time is “FOLLOW”. In the past, I have followed God in choosing a university, I have followed God along with my husband in youth ministry, I have followed God to Uganda. But the “FOLLOW” I am challenged about is Matthew 16:24-25: Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Continue reading

Humbly Serving

I think that all of us struggle with pride and humility. Or at least, that’s what I’m going to tell myself to feel better about it. But I feel the inner pull, the tension to seek after my own benefits and well-being before others. I struggle with it in my family, relationships, ministry, and pretty much everywhere. On most days, I submit to God and “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4). But I confess…I struggle with pride. Continue reading

Hospitality is a Gift

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:34-40

True hospitality, true service, true love…whatever you want to call it. I have enjoyed getting to know my Ugandan friends and how they view hospitality. Some Ugandans are beautiful examples of hosting others in their homes and they see the true meaning of treating people as if Jesus himself is visiting them. The “could be entertaining angels” is a very real perspective here. The true feeling of hospitality is when we don’t groan at daily interruptions of visitors, when we are willing to help someone in need, and when we open our homes and our lives to other people. Continue reading