This is one question I keep getting asked, why in the world would we take our family, with small children, on a mission trip to Lesotho. Why would I expose my children to a life that is so hard, not to mention this was not exactly the most comfortable vacation on earth. Why not head for a kid friendly resort, where we could get a break and the kids would be entertained. We went because the time had come for us to explore, the time had come for us to wear out our shoes while serving others… Turns out we were so encouraged by the people we met and blessed by getting to know them.
I have to say right from the start we saw this trip as an opportunity for our family to put into practice what we preach… to show our kids that our actions do match up to our words and that the people we pray for in different countries around the world at breakfast time really are important enough for us to visit them and to learn from them. We read a lot of Christian biographies as a family and my kids learn a lot about pioneer missionaries as part of their history curriculum. We always have a missionary biography that we are reading at the dinner table. As a family we support quite a few missionaries and we make every effort to invite folks visiting our church over for a meal. But actually the time has come for us to step up to the plate and rather than letting someone else do all the work while we pray for them it was time for us to humble ourselves and be prayed for while we set to work ourselves.
So here are Se7en Reasons for Taking your Family on a Mission Trip:
- Go out into all the world: In Mark 16:15 we are told to go out into all the world, not just the parts that are extremely comfortable. Folks predicted that we were going to be really uncomfortable, everyone kept going on about how would we cope without a bathroom, or without electricity or the internet. To tell you the truth we were more than comfortable and when you are not at home it is easier to do without things of home. We want our kids to learn to travel, and if there is a purpose, then so much the better. Creature comforts are a blessing from the Lord and we certainly appreciate all that we have a whole lot more since we have been back. I hope we will never take running water, a hot shower, cell phone reception, internet at our fingertips and so on for granted. The one thing my kids are so used to is having information at their fingertips, literally google is a keystroke away, and yet we didn’t have any internet, or even any books to look things up!!! Enquiring minds and their millions of questions had to make do with the knowledge they had and the quickly learnt to ask any available adult for answers to their endless questions.
- Serve the Lord With all Your Heart: Deuteronomy 10:12 should probably be my theme verse. I am always on about how I pray that my children might grow up to have servant hearts. This was our great opportunity to show our kids that we really mean it, not just in the humdrum of our comfortable everyday life but out of our regular environment where even the smallest contribution from the youngest person can make the biggest difference.
- Storing Up Treasures in Heaven: In Matthew 19:21 Jesus tells the rich young man to give to the poor and he will have treasures in heaven. The older you get the harder it is to give up your earthly treasures. It was a good time for all of us to give far more than we owned to help these children with their schooling. But it wasn’t about the material things at all. We were able to give them time and attention… to walk with them and talk with them.
- Feed the Hungry: In Matthew 25:37-40 “Jesus stated “That Whatever you did for one of the least of your brothers and sisters, you do for me.” On one day of our trip we were part of a missionary outreach to a community on Maseru. The children from the village we were staying in jammed into a taxi and went to visit the children in Maseru… where kids just poured off the hillside for a day of games and Bible teaching on an open patch of ground. My kids worked all day… meeting and greeting, playing and sharing… Any child that I asked: “How are you doing?” responded “It is the best day of my life.” It was the most incredible day. There were no party packs or coloring pages… no gifts, no candy… no free t-shirts to mark the event, just kids playing together, singing together and learning together. And every child that attended was served a plate of food at lunchtime. One of our kids was so thrilled to be able to help serve meals and wash plates for a heap of kids that they didn’t even know… It was a life-changing day for all of us… to serve where we were needed, in small ways… picking up babies, holding hands, taking little people to the “bathroom”… A busy and exhausting day… but how rewarding to really help give these kids the day of their lives.
- Love Your Neighbor: In Matthew 19:19 we are told to love our neighbors, it was time for all of us to discover just who our neighbors really were. While living in Cape Town our kids can’t help but see the whole world is not about soft 4-by-4’s and houses behind high walls. Just as it isn’t only about desperate folk on street corners asking for their next meal. They do see that there are a lot of wealthy people and a lot of poor people where they live but they don’t often get an opportunity to mingle at either end of the scale. By taking our kids to Lesotho and immersing them in village life they were able to see that while the kids were hungry and they didn’t have anything to mention, they were not miserable in fact they were joyful and full of fun and meeting these little kids was really our blessing rather than the reverse.
- Take Nothing for the Journey: Luke 9:3 We traveled very light, we had no room for any stuff in our car. Sleeping bags, a change of clothes and toothbrushes pretty much sums it up. And what a perfect privilege it turned out to be. The fact that we didn’t have spare clothes meant that I spent a fair amount of time at the community tap, doing laundry. What a great place to meet people, everyone who is anyone stopped to chat and share a little bit about their lives. And as for the local kids – they were just intrigued to see us doing laundry!!!
- Totally depending on God’d Goodness: 1Timothy 6:7 commands us to put our hope in God, rather than our worldly riches. This is a hard lesson for anyone to learn and the earlier my kids get an inkling of it the better. There is no way on earth we could have got to Lesotho on our own steam, we needed someone’s heart to be moved to lend us a car for the trip. We needed the funding and church support to get us there and to sustain us while we were there. We had to accept help where we would normally never accept help. We had to let our children go and be free to play – we had to pray for God’s hand of protection on them continuously, as they went off exploring and adventuring. We had to depend on God in a very clear and distinct way, just for safe traveling and day to day living… and we were made aware of our need because we weren’t at home where everything is so easy.
- The Blessing was Ours: 2 Corinthians Chapter 8:1-5 Sums it up exactly.
2 Corinthians: 1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
The church that we visited in Lesotho do not have an easy time of it, they have a lot of children to support and they just do not have the resources. And even then we arrived helpless on their doorsteps, to live alongside them… they far exceeded our expectations of hospitality… we have a lot to learn about opening our doors to people we don’t know and sharing everything we have with them. These people were indeed our neighbors.