A few nights ago, I read my three kids a bedtime story about a missionary who spent 30 years of his life serving in Nepal. I realized it wasn't much of a lull-them-to-sleep story, though, as I fielded excited questions and enthusiastic interest.
How will God use my children to build His kingdom? I wondered. Will they serve Him overseas, immersed in a foreign culture? Will they remain in North America, shining as lights in a secular workplace? Whatever their futures hold, how can I help mold them into world changers?
As I pondered the latter question, one thought came swift and clear: Teach them to think beyond themselves and their own needs. World changers, like the storyteller, follow Christ's example through service. They practice kindness and are willing to sacrifice convenience and comfort for another's sake.
Serving right where we were
I soon discovered that countless service opportunities surrounded our family, albeit on a simple scale:
- When missionary families on furlough stayed with us, our kids shared their bedrooms with the children.
- We provided transportation to Sunday school and midweek kids' club for children who wanted to attend but whose parents couldn't take them.
- We invited friends to invade our lakefront home, on scorching summer days.
- We delivered meals and drove one pregnant woman's children to school when she was ordered to bed rest.
- When an acquaintance's husband deserted her, we invited her family for dinners and table games.
- We purchased fabric and sewed a dress for a girl whose single mom couldn't afford to buy her one.
Bringing it to the Father
Serving others helped our kids see beyond themselves. Still, we could do something more: pray for our children's spiritual well being.
Frankly, sometimes I felt like a parrot with a limited vocabulary: "Lord, please bless my kids." My sentiments seemed so generic.
Things improved when we began praying God's Word. Specific Scriptures addressed our concerns.
Because we wanted our children to exemplify Christ, Philippians 2:3-8 became a favorite prayer guide:
"God, teach our children to humbly consider others better than themselves. May they look not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others."
We also asked the Lord to bless our kids, not necessarily with wealth or fame or an easy life, but that through them, His way would be known on Earth and His salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:1-2).
Seeing that it sank in
God honored our efforts and answered our prayers. More than a decade after that unforgettable bedtime story, our eldest boarded a ministry ship to participate in God's work around the world. As I write this, the ship sits in hurricane-devastated Grenada, its crew building shelters for the homeless.
The second, a Bible college sophomore, hopes to teach English overseas after graduation.
The third, now 18, spent three weeks teaching Bible clubs in Mexico last summer. She plans to return in July.
Raising world changers begins at home. From there, only God knows — and that's exciting!