Christian moms often perceive a conflict between pursuing unreached peoples and loving our families.
During the three years that my husband and I worked in India, I heard many missionary moms express this tension. Then, at the end of our term, a string of health crises pushed our family into survival mode and brought us back home to the United States.
Our experiences should have taught me that cross-cultural gospel ministry is not for a mom. But I have learned that moms are uniquely qualified to serve on the frontlines of kingdom work, especially when that work is right on our doorstep in North Carolina. Following are some ways that missions, ministry and motherhood are similar.
A common love
Like motherhood, sharing Christ with people from other nations stretches us beyond ourselves to produce supernatural fruit that is a work of love. Recently while watching the movie Lion and seeing the main character Saroo return to his home in India, I found myself sobbing. I knew how it felt for an entire village to share an emotional moment and was reliving that through the movie. I heard the Hindi dialogue as if it was my own language.
In those moments, I felt the effects of three years of intense immersion in a different culture and realized that I feel a similar attachment to the Indian people and culture that I feel toward my own children. The fight to know our kids as they are, love them, and stay with them, is incarnational and shapes a mom’s heart to embrace incarnational ministry to the unreached.
A call to sacrifice
Cross-cultural work is, like motherhood, a sanctifying process that calls women to deep personal sacrifice. In India, I nearly died delivering premature twins, not knowing what would happen to them. In that moment, God allowed me to experience both how trustworthy He is and how fragile my family is. Moms know that the Giver can also take away and how unbearable that loss is.
Loving our children requires sacrificial trust in God, which is a transformative and painful process. This is the same sacrificial love required to pursue people whose differences will reveal our own failings and bring us constantly to the end of ourselves. People who need Christ will drive us to sacrifice time, energy and the things we most value on their behalf.
Loving our children requires sacrificial trust in God, which is a transformative and painful process. This is the same sacrificial love required to pursue people whose differences will reveal our own failings and bring us constantly to the end of ourselves.
A mutually beneficial relationship
Biblical motherhood and cross-cultural ministry work together beautifully, albeit creatively. My husband is working to reach an Indian community that we live among in North Carolina while I care for our kids. As I have prayed for the unreached, God has faithfully worked even through my focus on our kids.
Our kids’ activities regularly provide me with a new international friend or faith-sharing opportunity. The attention that I give my kids has enabled rather than prevented many cross-cultural friendships. Other Christian moms have joined me and been emboldened to share Christ with their international neighbors. Being a mom opens doors for entry into homes, into cultures, and into the hearts and souls of the lost from other nations who are separated from us by so many barriers.
Embracing the calling
American moms enjoy independence and privileges few women in the world have known, and I feel the yearning of my sisters in Christ to take part in great things for His kingdom. For those of us who are moms, let’s seize motherhood as the beautiful opportunity it is to engage with the unreached. Let’s break out from the social groups we shelter within and speak to the strangers, the foreigners and the unreached who live next-door and shop where we shop, eat where we eat and play where we play.
Let’s pray daily for both our own children and the children God is pursuing among the unreached. Let’s speak the gospel of Christ to people from other religious backgrounds and learn from every struggling experience a better way to communicate that good news. Let’s commit to follow up with these people with the tenacity that we commit to loving our kids. Let’s not let fear keep us from believing God can use us, but let’s push each other out to the frontlines where moms serve best.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Liz C. is a 30-year-old mom of four kids, two girls and twin boys. She and her husband serve as resident missionaries among South Asians in RDU, having served three years in India, where their youngest three kids were born. Her daily life involves helping her family survive the chaos of three toddlers and doing something about the burning in her chest to see her neighbors know Jesus.
by Liz C / Contributing Writer / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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