The benefits of raising kids on the field
14 Dec 2020
When we sensed the Lord’s call to cross-cultural ministry and prayerfully decided to move overseas, we counted the cost. But it wasn’t until we were on our survey trip, holding our 2-year-old daughter as she lay, weak from illness, in a developing nation where we weren’t sure if we could trust medical care, that we realised this: we may choose to serve the Lord in a foreign land, but our children will experience the results of that choice.
Thankfully, living and working overseas is not all cost – there are great joys and benefits too!
Our children have a front-row seat to seeing God transform hearts and lives in people groups that have never heard of Jesus. Spiritual realities are real to them. Temples and idols are all around us, and our neighbours perform their worship rituals at our doorstep. The spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12) are tangible here – and our kids see and experience the power of prayer in the name of Jesus. They know, from lived experience, that our God is greater than any other power. And we get to sing worship together in another language, demonstrating that Jesus is Lord of the whole world, not just Aussies.
Growing up overseas gives our kids a global perspective. They have a beginning understanding of social issues like poverty and oppression. They’ve lived through natural disasters and political unrest, learning with us to trust God in hard times and to use what they’ve been given to ease the suffering of others. The conservative culture we live in shelters them from some of the torment that children in Australia must face. They’ve learned (or are learning) to live contentedly with simple fare in a small house, and place greater value on friendships and family than an abundance of things.
For our children, our host country is home. They are enthusiastic about life here. They have friends from all over the world. Our host culture is kind to foreigners – the lady who grazes her cows next door likes to braid our daughters’ fair hair; a crowd gathers to help our son on the road when he crashes his bike. And when our ministry takes us travelling into remote places, the children have the added perk of seeing the incredible beauty of God’s creation where most Aussie kids never get the chance to go!
There are challenges in cross-cultural ministry overseas, and though we shield our children from some things, they do see us buffeted by the storms of opposition to ministry, visa stress, team conflict and more. But through it all, they get to see us relying on Jesus, and that’s possibly the best upbringing a child can have!
-C.D., a Pioneers worker serving with her family in Asia.
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