Some of the ways our kids are involved include:
-helping to give out bandaids and medicine each afternoon.
-answering simple requests at the door (we actively encouraged and helped them learn the national language so that they can feasibly do this. And they are learning bits and pieces of the tribal language as well).
-building relationships with the Tigak kids in the village. They play with them, cook food together over a fire, and sometimes Naya even does a litte "Bible study" with some of the girls her age.
But just last week, my children were actively involved in ministry in a very different way,
bless their little precious hearts. Here's how the story goes.
One of the ladies, a believer, came and sat with me outside our house in the afternoon shade. Meanwhile, several young kids played together on the tire swing.
After some time, the mama of one 3-year-old boy stood at quite a distance and called for him to come. (This young woman is also a believer, we are pretty sure.) She called for him several times, but he did not respond. Finally, she called again and as he continued to swing, he turned his head and looked toward her... and then looked away again. A couple good minutes went by, and I looked toward her, and she was still just standing there at a distance. She called him again, and he didn't respond.
So because of the relationships I've been gradually building with these ladies, I went over to the swing, stopped it, and told him (and all the children), "Your mama called for you, but you didn't answer. You need to listen when she calls you and obey what she asks of you!" He looked at me and again I said, "Listen to her voice, and obey what she tells you." He just watched me. So I gently lifted him off the swing. As I did this, he began to get off the swing on his own, and started walking toward her.
'Great!', I thought. But then he turned around to get back on the swing. So I helped turn him around and coaxed him toward his mama, saying the same thing to him again. This time he made it farther, and I was sure we'd accomplished the goal! ... Until he took off sideways to mess around with some big 'flower pots'. (Gahh!)
So I lifted him up again and put him on the right path toward his mama, repeating the same thing yet again. As we approached his mama, with me keeping him on track, I kept saying the same thing so that she might hear it as well. Finally she picked him up and took him home.
This prompted a great conversation with the lady I had been sitting with. I asked her if she thought it was good what had happened between the young mama and her son. She asked, "Are you asking if she was wrong, or he was wrong?" Before answering, I talked with her about how God treats us as His children. When He speaks to us, does He follow through on what He says? Does He keep His Word? I explained that we have the responsibility to teach our children who He is. That is the best way to parent them, because it shows His character: loving, trustworthy, faithful.
Ultimately I asked her if it was right that the little boy didn't respond to her the first time? She said no. But I asked her if it was helpful for his mama to stand far away and yell his name over and over (and not doing anything else)? She thought for a brief second, then said no.
|Look at those angel faces... ready to 'minister' at all times! :)|
I told her that when my kids were that age, I had to help them to obey what I told them, and to obey the first time I said it.
AS I'M TELLING HER THIS, MY DARLING CHILDREN HAVE BEGUN RUNNING AROUND US IN CIRCLES, SCREAMING AND BEING SUPER SILLY! So I tell them, "Please stop and go somewhere else, we are trying to talk."
Naturally, RIGHT ON CUE, my children.... KEEP RUNNING AROUND US, SCREAMING AND BEING SUPER SILLY. So I tell them to go inside the house because they didn't obey me. One child obeys (PTL). The other child sits down next to me and says, "No." (!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?) I say to her, "I asked you to go inside. Now go inside." She stands up and whines, "But I don't want to go insiiiiiiide!!" Beginning to feel the fruits of the Spirit drift beyond my reach, I tell her firmly to go inside and sit in her room until I come and talk with her. Thankfully she obeyed, albeit stomping and making disgruntled noises.
I turn again to my believer friend, and ask her, "Did you see that? See, even my own children have trouble obeying my words."
She giggled with understanding, then asked me, "You said that when your children were young, you used to help them to obey you. How do you do that?" So I explained that when they were young, I would ask/tell them to do something, and if they didn't obey the first time, I would go to them and gently put them in position, or take them to where I had told them to go. I explained that I can't do it out of anger, and that they learn that I expect obedience the first time I ask them to do something. These are things we can do as parents that demonstrate the character of God to our children. He follows through with His talk. He doesn't say something and then not do what He said He would do. He also doesn't lash out at us in anger (but nor does He condone our sin).
|This is where a lot of good conversations happen-|
sitting in the late afternoon shade, wherever a breeze is found.
As she left, she said thank you for the encouragement in parenting. And as I left, I couldn't help but laugh at how my children are ever present with us in this ministry... sometimes in ways I am not quite so proud of, but ways that He uses very strongly to demonstrate to the Tigak ladies that I am not perfect just because I am the 'white missionary', and to demonstrate to them that it is very possible and in fact tangible to raise up our children in His ways!
I dedicate this post to my darling daughters. While I appreciate your ministry, do please learn to obey the first time. ;)