In one week I’m leaving my family to get on a plane for Kyrgyzstan. I’m going to help support a local church there along with a few other people from my church here. We will be working as helpers for an outreach summer camp for the kids there. The church doesn’t have enough staff or supplies to support all the children that come, so that’s where we come in and fill the need.
While I am a bit nervous, I do have a joy and a peace knowing that I my time and efforts are being spent on something good. It hasn’t been practical or easy to go on mission trips since my little ones came into the picture. In fact, this will be my first time doing missions in about 15 years.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Parenting is missions. Parenthood calls for a sacrifice of time, money, and energy to serve a people who, when we meet them are in need of care and truth. Parenting taken me far outside of my comfort zone, and required me to serve others with a purpose. And it’s been a time of personal spiritual growth.
As Darren E. Short said, “Wisdom does not grow on trees, the majority of the time it grows in the storm.”
And to me, having a child, was a storm. I usually describe it as “shock and awe.” Sleep, over. Personal space, gone. Going to the bathroom, never alone. But then something started to change, I slowly changed from a physical caregiver, to a teacher.
My words, behavior, and attitudes started coming back at me, even the ones I didn’t want them to copy. And I started to realize that all of this, not just what I want them to learn, is shaping them. And so all that I communicate in various ways becomes my message, my testimony to them about how to understand the world around them, the things inside them, and the things unseen.
As a person of faith, this means I need to be really careful about how I present the gospel and who I allow to preach to my children. “Religious” or not, everyone is preaching something. Not always with words, but everyone is teaching something with their attitudes and actions.
Hopefully, preaching without words works out for me in Kyrgyzstan. They primarily speak Russian there and I don’t. They do speak some English and practicing English with us is a big part of the draw of the camp. I’m a bit nervous. I care about the message I am bringing and how I come across. It’s not about the language barrier even as much as cultural and age differences. So, if you’re the praying type, please say a prayer for me and the others who are going to Kyrgyzstan to serve at the kids camp. Pray for safe travels and a clear and true gospel message.