Missions: Who Do You Take?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, April 22, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This will be my last post on this mini-series on missions. I’ve written about why we go and whether short-term or long-term is better. Today, I will address who goes with you. Answers in Genesis had an article about missions and whether children should go with you and one person had a very emotional-driven comment about how one should never bring their children along on the mission field because you will not be able to focus on the missions. Is this true?

Who should go with you to the mission field? Who do you take with you? Do you wait to be empty nesters and your kids are gone? Do you send your teenagers? What about your grandparents? What about the handicapped that want to serve? I come from a very unique perspective because International Family Missions was perhaps the only organization in the world that actually focused on family missions - how to do ministry as a family unit. We took everybody on our trips: toddlers, kids, teens, adults, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, physically handicapped, and if possible even some people with special needs. The majority of mission groups out there may allow couples to take their children, but the children were more seen as extra baggage. They were not implemented into ministry plan. IFM, however, explicitly plugged in anyone and everyone who came.

I have a good friend who is severely physically handicapped. He can barely walk on crutches and is often wheelchair bound. Yet when he would come on our trips, he often had kids flocking around him. Image how much of an impact that has. He can’t walk and yet he comes into the desert, sits in the dirt with the kids and just loves on them. He has a major physical weakness and yet God uses him greatly.

One of the greatest moments of my missions experience came when I was just eight years old. I had my own challenges growing up and being off my routine had devastating results. Anyone who has been on a mission trip knows that “routine” is just not going to happen. I was not very popular among the other kids on the trip and I was often left out of the activities they were doing. So I was just hanging around the bus while the leader of our team spoke to several local pastors in the area explaining what we do. Our leader asked me to grab a “Wordless Book” and show how we can explain the Gospel using a five color felt booklet. The pastors were amazed how a child of my age, not even knowing my background, could explain the Gospel so simply.

Now because of the age and physical limitations of many of IFM’s groups, we did not do a lot of work projects, but rather did “visits in Jesus’ name.” It was much more relationally focused. Again, there is nothing wrong with work projects, and there is nothing wrong with helps. I have nothing against groups like Mercy Ships who come to provide medical attention to many desperate people. And it can be a challenge for children to come along with those types of things.

Those who refuse to allow children to come, however, tend to have other things in mind besides “focus on the ministry.” They think of the child’s safety. They think of typical American family life rather than letting the children see a lifestyle other than their own. Two stories come to mind that many mission organizations would find completely outrageous. Two children, Steve Saint and Bramwell Booth, were exposed to missions at an early age. And both were in places no “normal” or “wise” parent would ever take them.

Steve Saint was just a boy when his parents, along with Jim Eliot and others, sought to bring the Gospel to the Wadoni Tribe of Ecuador, a very violent tribe on the verge of self-extinction. Most people would consider the move to be extremely foolish, but not as foolish as what his mother did after Nate Saint, Jim Eliot, and three friends were killed: the widowed wives went into the jungle with their kids in tow to directly minister to the tribe. The story re-told in the movie “End of the Spear” is one of courage and obedience to the Lord, no matter what the cost.

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, did not travel to the jungles of the Amazon or to China. He went to one of the most impoverished civilized areas of the world: the East End of London, where just a mile away, the West End was one of the wealthiest areas of the world at the time. William Booth sought out the destitute and the worst of sinners in London. It is reported that at least one occasion, William took his son Bramwell into one of the pubs in the East End, showed him the decadence and told him, “Bramwell, these are our people.” Bramwell was 11 years old at this time.

Most people in their right mind would never consider doing that. Many God-fearing, Bible-believing people would never consider taking their children along on mission trips where they might be exposed to the darkness, the drunkenness, the violence, the language, the smell, the decay, the death. But one thing I have learned in my own missions experience: following the Lord in obedience is often ridiculous. It often sounds stupid and foolish and unwise. My parents were told repeatedly not to take me to Juarez with IFM, and their response was this: even after I had regressed tremendously as a result of the first trip, they said they would take me again, and again, and again. And because of that, I am able to do what I am doing today and I have the heart to expand the Kingdom of God that I have today. The people who told my parents not to take me were well meaning. But they were thinking in the natural, they were not thinking as God was thinking. And had my parents listened to that advice, I would truly be held back from where God wanted me to be.

Now to be absolutely clear, I am NOT by any means suggesting everyone should take their children with them on missions. That is something between them and God. Not everyone is called to go out to the jungles or to the deep inner city. Everyone has a job to do in serving the Kingdom and some of those jobs are to be the financial basis for those going out. My purpose of this post is to not let fear and the natural mind keep you from taking who needs to go with you. If you have kids and God calls you to go, you need to go. He is not just calling you; he is calling your kids as well. My parents were called to serve in Juarez for 22 years. He did not just call them; he called me too. Even though I was just a child, I was called to go too. Even though I did not know I was being called at the time, I was to go. And it was one of the wisest decisions my parents ever made for me growing up.

Wherever you are, whoever is with you, wherever God takes you, the best place to be is in the center of God’s will. If you are obedient to the Lord, you are safer in the middle of a war-zone in God’s will than you are in the comforts of your home outside of his will. God has called us all to make disciples of all nations. He has called us to preach to Gospel to anyone we can. And let those around you see how it is done. Because if you don’t, how will they know?

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