2) How To Handle the “M” Word with your Kids

m_wordRecently, I’ve found myself discussing the “M” word (“missionary”) with more than one worker from a sensitive land, especially regarding families with kids. The question, in particular, is “How to handle the “M” word when mommy and daddy are working in a creative access country (for example, launching a business as missions platform). Some families say “all Christians are missionaries” then define the term. Other families avoid the “M” word all together. There are opportunities for comparisons with other paradigms. When your kids were little, how did you handle the concept of Santa Claus? [plot spoiler: If your kids are reading this with you, and they still ‘believe in Santa Claus,’ better stop reading right now :-) ] If you decided to tell them the truth about Santa, how did you instruct them to handle that “truth” in relation to other children… when, for example, they were playing with kids whose families handled it differently?

This is an important topic — and it’s one that could easily cause trouble for a family who chooses to live for Jesus in a sensitive land. Your thoughts?

4 Responses to 2) How To Handle the “M” Word with your Kids
  1. Jim Reply

    Yes, Yes, Yes. My family is one of these families you mention. I want to hear from seasoned veterans wh’ve lived in creative access countries for a long time on this topic more than anything else. The families with kids on our team are probably waiting to hear what people have to say about this topic on Brigada (Yes, most of us get this publication. :) )

    • Editor Reply

      Jim, bless your heart, brother.

  2. Brian Reply

    This is an important area to give attention to. The best advice I can give is to decide on something, then be consistent in your application of it within you family & team so that kids don’t get confused. While my family was living in a restricted access country, we tried to avoid the term because our kids, and most of the kids on our team, were young. However, we did talk openly with the kids about our reasons for being there – to tell others about Jesus, because God had blessed us and we wanted to pass that blessing on to others, etc. Having done all that, it was fairly common for us to be asked, “Are you a missionary?” That’s a related topic that requires a consistent response. We always responded with a question such as, “What is a missionary?” The answer was always something to the effect of, “Someone who has come here to convert people….” Since conversion is between a person & the Holy Spirit, we were comfortable denying that, then moving into an honest explanation of why we were there, which was usually an open door to “give an account for the hope that we have.”

  3. Marti Wade Reply

    Some of my friends have struggled with the tension created by having a decidedly non-missionary identity in their host community, then being publicly identified back home (e.g., on furlough/home assignment) as missionaries. Kids have a hard time making that distinction. Adults can feel pretty uncomfortable with it too. I’ve seen some parents contact churches, before they came into town on a visit, to brief pastor and outreach committee leaders NOT to introduce their family in church as missionaries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.