I am Kellee Cogdill and my family lives on the outskirts of the Serengeti in Musoma, Tanazania, East Africa. This has only been our address for five years. Spartanburg was our previous address and we lived there for seven years. My husband, Patrick, worked for Milliken in the IT department and I have been a stay at home mom since 1999. We have six beautiful children: Eli 17, Ethan 15, Emilee 13, Elliot 12, and twins Eden and Evan 8. We currently work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Patrick is IT support for an 8 language translation project which represents 1.5 million mother tongue speakers who are waiting for a Bible in their heart language. I home school our children on the field and also dabble in a little translation work. My heart is in discipleship, so I am working with two nationals in translating a Precept 40 min. Bible study into the national language of Kiswahili.
No, we have not always wanted to live half way around the world, but we have always wanted to be a part of Jesus’ commission to tell the world of the Gospel. Every believer should have this desire and it needs to be reflected in the day to day living in your home. So, you might ask, “How do you raise your children to be intentionally missional?” That is a very good question and one that looks different for every family. Honestly, Patrick and I attribute our hearts for missions to the Bible. Hence the reason we are with a Bible translation organization.
In 2009, after much wrestling with the Lord, this became our mission statement as a family:
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Matthew 13:44 NLT
It took many years of being married and raising our children before we wrote this out as a family. I encourage you to take some time and write a mission statement for your family. Patrick and I desired our children to find the “joy” or “excitement” in the Gospel. I spent many years being very intentional with my children about what it means to follow after Jesus. I did this with the Bible. For years our morning devotions consisted on reading through the Bible together and biographies of past missionaries. The children and I included books, sometimes very hard books that showed us what real sacrifice in living for Jesus looks like. I never tried to minimize the cost of what it means to choose Jesus. Patrick and I are students of inductive Bible study and were daily challenged by digging and applying God’s words to our lives. We included the children in our love for the scriptures. When either of us learned something new as we studied, we shared it with the children. No, they did not always understand mommy and daddy’s excitement but God used His word to touch our hearts and soften the hearts of our children to the truth.
We also began to be intentional about how we lived. Halloween changed from trick or treating to studying about the reformation. Thanksgiving meant adopting an apartment complex near our house and cooking for the residents there. At Christmas we gave each of our children a certain amount of money and a gift catalog to various mission organizations. They bought mosquito nets, goats, chickens, and paid school fees for children in developing countries. They did not mind that they had nothing under the tree because they truly felt the joy in the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than receive.”
We sold everything and went. Please pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Feel better? I want you to understand that I am not telling you that you have to pick up and move to Africa. I believe that obedience to Jesus can be lived out anywhere, especially at home. Initially this was our desire. We were going to sell everything and live intentionally in Spartanburg. Honest. But God had another place for us to call home. The point of this part of the story is obedience. Don’t box God in and miss out on His glory. Release your family into His hands, His feet, His love. He could carry you down the street, to another state, or another country.
God loves your children. If you are reading this blog then you must have a desire to see your kids live out their lives for the Lord. Well, that does not magically happen. Speak, live, and joyfully serve His name at home and your kids will do the same. There is no magical formula. Dedicate and defend your home for the glory of the Lord, be a student of His word, faithful to be on your knees in prayer, and your children will do the same.
I love you sweet, hard-working, mama. We are in this journey together whether we live next door to each other or we live continents apart. If you want your kids to serve the Lord then be their example. Include them in the Joy of Christ and all the other details will fall in place including your hearts.
Lovingly from Africa,
At First Baptist Spartanburg, we recently had the opportunity to share a video that the Cogdills put together introducing us to their world and work of Bible Translation. Be sure to check it out to learn more about all that God is doing through the Cogdill family!