Invite Us Along
I was recently invited to write a short devotional for the children's ministry newsletter at my church. This is what I shared in the April edition:
“...commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."
– Deuteronomy 6:6-7
When I was two years old, my parents did something shocking in a season where families are usually encouraged to center their lives around their children. They sold their house, packed the essentials into eight green plastic trunks, and flew to rural northern Thailand to begin their career as missionaries. As they prepared for the journey, many of their friends and family members asked the same question: “Are you taking your kids with you?” They couldn’t imagine why my parents would put their children at risk in a developing country, not to mention the lifelong psychological impact of growing up in a foreign culture.
As a parent, it’s a natural desire (and not a sinful one) to protect your kids and give them the best life possible. But we have to remember that it's impossible to protect the people we love from the harsh realities of our fallen world. What I love about Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is the emphasis on sharing our faith with our kids as we go about our day-to-day lives. God doesn’t ask us to isolate our children to protect them from the world. He wants us to walk with them through it.
Growing up in a Buddhist and animistic country, I wasn’t sheltered from other religious perspectives. I made friends with the neighborhood kids and learned to embrace a culture wildly different from my family’s. My parents welcomed our questions, assuring us that God wasn’t threatened by any of them. And they constantly invited us to brainstorm with them on creative ways to share the Gospel in a Thai cultural context.
Rather than trying to protect us, my parents always encouraged us to join them on their mission with God. Nothing has impacted my faith more than seeing my parents put God first before me. But they didn’t leave us behind. They invited us along.