Embrace our missionary kids
By Daniel Salamu
How can we better embrace our missionary kids, or MKs, into mission life? Of course, they are already in the mission, but they are in the mission because of their parents. It’s natural for us to give commands and expect children to follow without question.
My own children are young and were born after my wife and I became missionaries. They did not choose this life, but one day they will. They may own it or reject it, depending how I treat them. If I finish my missionary journey today, and my son and daughter do not see any good thing in it, what a disappointment that would be. Rather, I want to give them a compelling legacy. The question is, how can we, as parents, live such inviting lives that our children hunger to follow in our footsteps?
I have learned that the little things are so important. As adults, we think some things don’t really matter, but to a child, they do. For example, I scheduled a very important meeting with our team in a neighbouring country on the 16th of the month. However, the 15th of the month was my son’s last day of school. I cancelled the travel and the meeting because I didn’t want to travel that day. I wanted to be present for my son during any events or parties with the other children. Our presence during such times will impact our kids in ways we may not know for years.
We must also be intentional with our children if we want to see the future of African missions flourish. If we do it wrongly, they may say, “You chose it, not me,” and may abandon it. But if they see what their parents are doing and choose to follow God, then we will be raising a new generation of missionaries and missions supporters. Even if they do not become full-time missionaries, they will love the work and become advocates and supporters of the Great Commission.
Let’s remember how Jesus moved to Egypt sometime between his infancy and toddlerhood. Through a dream, his heavenly Father instructed his earthly father, Joseph, to flee there. By the age of 12 we see Jesus at the temple, his family having transitioned back to Israel. Perhaps we can imagine how these formative years spent in a foreign culture influenced his early development, his awareness of the whole earth, and his heart for the lost of all nations. I believe this missionary life is the best life I can give to my children because God called my whole family into it–children included. One day I want my children to say, “My heavenly Father and my earthly dad did not make a mistake.”
In this issue, you will hear from the Director of our East African Office some of the challenges and blessings of being an African MK, you will read how to plan transitions well for children using a RAFT, and you will hear the story of two MK sisters, Blessing and Joy, who are thriving today. My prayer is that you will come away with a broader view of these children, and that you will commit to pray for them even as you pray for missions in general.
Daniel Salamu is Director of SIM’s West Africa Missions Office, which mobilises and sends missionaries from 16 nations. Daniel and his wife are the parents of two MKs, a son aged 7 and a daughter aged 3. He is from Nigeria and currently resides in Ghana after serving over 8 years in Burkina Faso.