Several months ago, I was asked to write a guest blog post and I decided to share it here as well. Hope these suggestions spark your imagination and that you are actively working to incorporate missions into your family culture!
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I was given numerous opportunities to learn about foreign missions. My church has an annual, week-long missions conference every October and it was the highlight of my year…almost as exciting as Christmas! I loved hearing about other cultures and as I got older, I grew to love hearing about what God was doing in those cultures. Now, as I prepare to embark on my own missions adventure in South Africa, I would like to share with you some practical and family friendly ways to create a missions minded family culture.
- Use Operation World by Jason Mandryk as part of your family devotions. It gives you a short overview of one country each day and shares with you ways to pray for that country. To learn more, visit http://www.operationworld.org.
- If your church supports several missionaries, pick one a month to focus on. Learn about the family, their ministry, the country in which they serve, and their daily lives. Ask them for prayer requests, updates, Skype with them, have your children write them letters of encouragement. Make a family meal that reflects the food of that country. Consider sending the family a small package of items they miss from the states! This will give your family a special connection with the missionaries your church supports and will help your missionaries feel more at home when they come back on furlough.
- Have a ‘Rice Night’ every week. One night a week (maybe close to the end of the week), all your family eats for dinner is a bowl of rice. This helps remind us that we live with so much, while the majority of the world doesn’t know where their next meal will come from. During the week, take time to research a specific culture or people group. Gather information such as what they eat, how much money they live on a week, what kind of activities the kids in that country do, what religious challenges that people group might face…be creative! Discover as much as you can about that country and then write out a few things to pray about for that country. During ‘rice night’, spend some time as a family sharing what impacted each individual as they learned about the country and then pray together for that country.
- Take a family mission trip! Nothing is more powerful, or life-changing, than time spent amongst the ‘least of these’. Trips such as these help deepen family ties and give amazing opportunities to grow together and individually.
If you are seeking some less time consuming ways to encourage your missionaries and give your family a more missional mindset, here are a few things to try!
- Don’t underestimate the power of an email or letter. Simply letting your missionaries know that you are thinking of and praying for them will serve to uplift and strengthen them!
- Skype Dates! Install Skype on your computer, and keep up to date with your missionaries! They might not have a whole lot of time to spend chatting, but even 5 minutes is wonderful. Make sure you take time to pray with them before signing off!
- READ THEIR UPDATES! Maybe print them out and read them with your family over dinner, and then shoot the missionary a reply letting them know you read it and prayed for them.
- Send your missionaries links to sermons you heard or songs you discovered that were encouraging to your heart…it might just be something they need to hear as well!
- If you are more tech savvy, create a video greeting from your family or church family, or print out and send pictures of special occasions or church gatherings…especially around the holidays. Record a Christmas Eve service or a 4th of July church picnic…it helps missionaries feel involved and connected back home!
Hope this has stirred up lots of ideas in your mind about how to be intentional in giving your family a global outlook!