Our children are a blessing: literally an heirloom given to us by God Himself. As I’m contemplating my son coming home tonight for twenty days of RA (recruiter assistant) over the holidays and my middle daughter joining us, I’m reminded of how valuable family truly is! Many in today’s society diminish the value of having children. They claim to be altruistic: not wanting to bring innocent children into such a violent and ugly world. But our children are the hope for the future of this world, both physically and spiritually.
Our family is thankful for the strong adults that our children have become. Apparently, this is not because we did everything right as ministry parents, but rather did everything wrong and openly owned our weaknesses as parents. Children being raised in a ministry home are often exposed to the ugly side of ministry. Ours were. One article that outlined ways to raise your children well in ministry must have used our family as the example of what NOT to do. My husband and I definitely broke three of the author’s principles.
1) Be content where you are: as missionary parents, we were seldom content. We were expected to raise our support to do mission work in Congo. We did this by stuffing our children into a vehicle and driving around the states presenting our work in various churches. Each church had a different set of standards on how children were expected to behave. In order to impress the church leaders and gain support, our kids were expected to behave well. This pressure was unfair, leaving us very discontented with the system of becoming fully-supported missionaries.
2) Leave conflict at the church. This principle was definitely broken in our home. Very often the conflict would follow us into our home and family time. Many a daddy and child wrestling match were postponed because a phone call from an unhappy church member or supporting pastor interrupted evening plans. Listening to the complaints placed my husband in a position of not easily switching off the irritation. That conflict was then openly discussed in our home. In hindsight, our children call the way their father dealt with conflict as his continually “beating a dead horse.” Deep-rooted bitterness was avoided by his being transparent about his troubles. A principle was broken, but the damage was lessened by the honesty in dealing with it openly. (Raining Your Children in Ministry/ leadership.lifeway.com / Dr. Ronnie Floyd/ 2019)
Although missions’ ministry was tough on our children, it also molded them in unique ways. The close quarters of raising children in a car or airplane or small property in Congo also made our family close. Most of our memories were made within arm’s reach of each other. Raising support throughout the states gave the opportunity of our children experiences national parks, unusual hikes, and popular tourist attractions. Life in Congo taught them tolerance for different cultures (like having their hair touch during Sunday School because it was different than that of the children there). Plus our children experienced unique play. Watching British cooking shows inspired them to head to the back yard to act out their own cook shows, using the fruit available in the yard: mangoes, papayas, lemons, and avocadoes.
In hindsight, I must acknowledge that although we did many things wrong, God made that wrong right by adding His grace and mercy to our family. We must not fear the process of having children. The mandate is more than six-thousand years old. We are to fill the earth with the good children we raise. These children become strong adults who make right decisions for the future of our planet. They do this by proclaiming the gospel, protecting the innocent and valuing life, and preparing themselves to share this legacy with future generations.
Is there hope in our children? I say, yes! Truly, “children are a heritage (heirloom) of the LORD.” (Psalm 127:3) We need to see our children as a gift from God that we treasure and protect and then hand down to the next generation.