Kenya vs Hannah

We have some friends that are about to head on a short-term mission trip to Kenya, to do some training for pastors and other church leaders.  I was so blessed to have the opportunity to go to Kenya in November 2007 for the same purpose.  But about a month before the trip, as I was putting Hannah to bed, she said, pretty strongly, “I don’t want you to go.  I want you to stay here.”

I wondered how was I supposed to answer her, to respect her feelings (my natural tendency would be to say, “Too bad.  I’m going, and you have no say in it.”), while also giving her direction.  How could I let my darling little girl know that I love her, but that it was not her right to keep me from going on this trip?

That’s when it hit me.  The choice wasn’t between Kenya and Hannah; it was between God and Hannah.  I told her that I understood why she was upset, and that I appreciated it that she could talk to me about it.  But then I explained that God wanted me to go to Kenya, and that I must choose to follow Him.  Also, I told her that she got to “have” me for 51 weeks out of the year, and doesn’t it make sense that she could “share” me with Kenya for 1 week?  She wholeheartedly agreed and felt much more assured.

Besides how it blessed me personally, this trip was a blessing for Hannah (and my other kids) in tha:

  • She had the opportunity to “sacrifice” me for a short while, and when we sacrifice and empty ourselves, it gives God a chance to fill the gap.
  • Although she is too young to go, I helped make Kenya real to her by bringing back stories of my experience.  She can’t get this as intimately by reading a book or hearing about someone else going.  It needs to be Dad’s (or Mom’s) experience.
  • She saw a model of how someone puts God’s will ahead of personal desires.  I am much more comfortable in my own home, as opposed to being halfway across the world.  But when God calls, you go.
  • It was a real example of being salt and light that I could use with my children.  (Read more about that in a post I wrote last year.)

At Koinonia Baptist Church

We need to remember that the goal isn’t to help our kids manage life.  Our goal must be to help them trust in Christ, that by ourselves life is unmanageable.  And I echo the words from Tony Dungy’s book The Mentor Leader, “I hope my children grow up understanding that God my call them to do things that take them out of their comfort zone to benefit someone else.”

Have you ever been on an overseas mission trip?  How did God use that experience to help grow you, or help you lead your children?

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