Blog, On Mission

On Mission Mom Spotlight: J serving in Southeast Asia

* we can’t share her pic here, her name, or where she serves… but you can pray regardless and be encouraged by this On Mission Mom as she strives to be intentional and balance her time!

Introduce your family and what you guys do, etc.

My name is J and my husband is T. We have four children and we live in a Southeast Asian country that is primarily Buddhist; however, our main focus and people group are Muslim. In our country the people we serve are disliked and hated. They have very little freedom in our country and many struggle just to vote or travel. They are often happy to talk with believers. They feel a closeness to us because we hold many same beliefs, such as following one God.

What’s been your biggest joy in living and serving overseas?

The biggest joy in living overseas is learning this new culture and loving on these people. We have some great people here and they are happy to help. Whenever I am out with the kids, usually someone comes over and helps me carry them or helps guide them in the direction we are going. The people here love to help.

We are beginning to see our children have a love for the nations, because they see this country as home and they love their friends and want to share with them the Good News, even now as children.

What’s been the biggest struggle?

The biggest struggle here besides missing family like crazy, is remembering the culture we live in 24/7. There are days I would like to go to the store and back without someone pinching my kids cheeks. Or having to stop when we are at the park every few feet because everyone wants a picture with the foreign children. My children sometimes get shy and just want to hide when people start talking to them and they don’t understand all that is being said to them. This is not the culture I grew up in, and it takes effort to remember how to react to situations I would see as weird and they think is an everyday occurrence. It doesn’t mean their culture is wrong. It is just different. We look at it in a different way and see what they see. There are many times my baby loves posing for pics, so his brother and sisters get out of it. I think he now thinks it is weird to go somewhere and people not look at him. We love these people and every pinch and picture also shows that they like us also, and are willing to be around us. We can even use that to share with them life changing news!

How do you involve the kiddos in what you do?

Right now in our work there are very few believers in the people we are reaching. We are going out and pr* walking around their places of worship. Also T goes out regularly to share with people and I go to an English club where many girls are trying to learn English. Every Sunday we have a family pr* time for our people and the kids ask for them to hear the Good News. We go to parks and as a family hang out with other families and the children play together and naturally talk about what they know. My oldest child is passionate about wanting to share with people. Our older girls also attend a dance class and on Easter they wore the Easter story in henna on their hand and made cookies for their class to share.

Whats one way that you stay “On Mission” where you live?

One thing we try to do to keep “on Mission” is to remind the kids as we go out that we are being intentional. We are going to keep our eyes open for the person Father is sending our way today. That person may be someone who we are supposed to share with. That could be the kid on a slide with you or the lady giving you candy from her store. Just be ready and willing to share and help Mama and Daddy also recognize and share too!

What’s one thing you are learning as a mom?

The thing I am learning these days is balance. Our schedule can get very busy as most moms know. I am learning how to maximize my time and focus on what He has entrusted to me at this moment in my life. Right now my main focus is homeschooling and discipling my children. In doing that, we also go out to tell others.

How can we lift you up as you love and serve your families and others?

As you think of us just lift up that we use our time wisely. Ask that we recognize the opportunities in our path to share. Ask that our children will be bold and share with us. That we continue to learn language and culture to be better at reaching their hearts.

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Blog, On Mission, Uncategorized

A Mom (and daughter) On Mission: Angela & Sierra

One of my most favorite families and mentors, Angela, recently took her youngest daughter to Brazil to serve and share Jesus! Angela has great wisdom as a wife and mom, but most of all, she’s a lady that loves Jesus and wants other to know Him here in Spartanburg and around the world!

1. Introduce you and your fun family!

My name is Angela and I am wife to my best friend Greg, and mom to seven of my most favorite people in the world.

2. How/why did you feel led to go on this trip and bring Sierra with you? Or did she want to go first?

My parents are missionaries in Brazil, so the opportunity to minister in this country is ever present. My four older kids have all been to Brazil to do missions work and two of them have been there for an extended amount of time. About a year ago, Sierra, who was 15 at the time, said she really wanted to go. At that time I was not sure if she was just curious about a country that she had heard so much about or if she was hearing God’s call to go. After Christmas, I begin to feel God calling me to go out of the country on mission. This surprised me a bit, because I had felt for some time that I was content to stay home and “hold down the fort” allowing several of my family members to travel and be on mission.  Shortly after that, Sierra came to me and said she really wanted to go to Brazil in the summer. We have typically tried to cultivate curiosity for mission trips in our children but desire that the calling come from God. From that point on, Sierra was convinced she was supposed to be in Brazil this summer.  God confirmed to me and to her that this was something he had put the desire in her heart for.  One evidence was that her desire did not waiver. She was comfortable missing out on things that had previously been valuable to her, in order to be where God was leading her. For those of you with teenagers, you know that stepping out and doing something different is not the norm.

3. How did you prepare yourself and help her prepare?

I wanted our time in Brazil to be as profitable as possible. I knew we needed to prepare for the trip just as much spiritually, as we were physically. I went to the IMB (International Mission Board) website and found a Bible study to help us prepare. The study was a tool to cultivate spiritual conversations to help us prepare. We talked about why we should share our faith and how to share faith, what happens when share our faith and even practiced sharing our faith. We read scripture together and prayed for the people that would be in our path as we went. The study even covered things to be conscience of while we were in route and how to prepare for a different culture. The most valuable part was just talking with Sierra about the Gospel and hearing what it meant to her.

4. What lessons did you learn serving together?

I was reminded how much freedom there is in obedience. When we obey God, we don’t have to worry about the outcome or even the process. We leave that to Him. In obedience we are able to get a clear picture of God and all He wants for us.

5. What advice would you give Moms about going on missions with your children?

I constantly remind myself that my children are not my own and no matter how much I love them, God loves them infinitely more. If the goal for my kids is to love God and love other people . . .and it should be, then I must give them opportunities to do just that. Love God by sharing what he has done for us. Love God by sacrificing time and money to go where He has called. Being “on mission” with your child enables you to see them in a whole new light. You see the talents and abilities that God has given them. Knowing these strengths, you can look for opportunities to serve based on their giftedness. Remember when we are on missions with our kids sometimes we need to step back and let them lead. Let the Holy Spirit speak to them and don’t interfere. Many times God uses our kids to teach others and US!

Thank you Angela for your wisdom and encouragement to raise our kiddos to be World Changers who love JESUS and love others and for sharing your most recent journey with Sierra!

Blog, On Mission

Serving with Your Little Ones

Each summer my nieces (ages 11 and 9) come down and spend about two weeks with us and it’s always super fun! This year we had the fun opportunity to all serve together at The Bridge, a ministry of our church, that helps others in our neighborhood with financial, food, and clothing needs. It’s pretty dear to my heart so it was the perfect place for us all to serve together. After our time serving, I shared a few pictures over on Instagram and was so encouraged by several of my friends who reached out to say that they really wanted to start serving with their little ones too, but weren’t sure exactly how to get started or connected. I also realized that I’ve never really shared any insight to serving with little ones although that is a pretty big piece behind my desire to start up On Mission Moms (duh….)

So here goes:

1. Know your children! That seems kind of silly to say but it has to be said here. If you know your little one can probably only stay focused for an hour or so, you don’t want to volunteer little “Suzy” for a four hour shift. Or if your child struggles with carrying or lifting heavy items, you probably shouldn’t sign up sweet “Bobby” for unloading the food truck with 10 pallets of #10 cans. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean they can, and you have to keep in mind that the experience is not really about you.

2. Get connected with the right place to serve! What does your child like to do? What are they good at? What does a specific ministry do? How can they use your gifts and talents and the gifts of your little ones? What rules or policies do they have in place for volunteers? There are tons of great ministries out there – soup kitchen, homeless shelters, children’s shelters, community centers, pregnancy centers, and on and on but they may not always be the best fit for a four year old or a twelve year old. One way to do that is to email or call them and chat and ask questions like “Can my four year old serve?” “What types of things would my eight year old be doing?”, “what do you expect from my family if we volunteer?” It may also take a few times and a few different places before you find your sweet spot of service!

3. Keep the end goal in mind! I’m a “doer”. When I serve, I wanna put my head down, get my hands dirty and just get to it; however, when Ivey and my nieces are with me… my goals and responsibilities have to change. My desire when I serve with them is that they have the opportunity to actually serve. So I may never get to stack a can, hand out a bag of food, help a shopper pick out food they like or hang a stitch of clothing, but if I have led my little one to do that, then we have had a great day! It won’t be as productive but they will walk away having a fun experience and a chance to learn. My expectations have to be that of what a four year old can get done not what a nearly 40 year old mom can do! And the expectations of the ministry site must be the same too! If they are expecting you to unload those pallets and your six year old can barely lift a pound of potatoes, there might be unmet expectations and frustrations all around!

4. Be ready to follow up and debrief with your child. They may have questions like “Why don’t these friends have food?”, “Can we take home some juice and chips?”, “Where does all this food and clothing come from?”, “Why does he smell funny?”. Also, be ready to help them walk through their experience. With my four year old, I ask questions like “What was your favorite thing about serving this morning?”, “What did you not like about serving.” “Why do you think we should serve others?” Help them begin to process the “whys” behind it all. They may not understand it all completely and that is okay but help them process. Pray with them about their day and experience.

5. Make it relational and personal! This is pretty important to me because while it’s important to help our little ones hang clothes and sort food, it’s even more important for our little ones to begin to “see” people. Look for opportunities to let them interact with those that are being served. Introduce yourself and your children. Ask your new friend their name. This really depends on the place of service and what they will allow a volunteer to do. I’m so thankful that at the Bridge we had an opportunity to help a couple ladies shop for their food. The girls got to hold their bags and we got to introduce ourselves to them. We got to talk about foods we each loved or didn’t like. How do you cook an artichoke?! It led to great opportunities later to pray for them too, by name. The day was fun because we served together, but it was also fun because we made a new friend!

Above all, just serve! It doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t always have to know all the answers, you may or may not even interact with people, but just get to it! Your little one will love it and when they begin to serve at a young age, it begins to build in them a foundation of service and a love for others!

Have you had an opportunity to serve with your children? If so, what tips would you add to the list? Comment below!

Blog, On Mission

A Mom (and daughter) on Mission: Shae & Savanna

Thankful for this dear friend who loves Jesus, loves others, and shares the gospel in their home in Florida and on Mission with their children!!

My name is Shae and I have been married to my wonderful husband, Danny, for 18 years. We have been in ministry together for all of those 18 years! He is currently an Executive and Worship Pastor and I work part-time for Florida Center for Reading Research. I do interventions with preschoolers and kindergarteners. We have three beautiful girls: Madison 14, Savanna 11, and Brooklyn 8! (You can say our life is pretty busy!!)

Missions has always been a part of our married life. We know God commands us in Matthew 28:19 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We wanted to be an example to our girls by participating in local missions and mission trips (mostly Danny because I stayed home with the girls while they were young.) However in 2017, our first opportunity came for Madison (our oldest) to be involved in an international mission trip to Nicaragua with her NextGen Pastor and some youth to minister to girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking. This is a scary thought, sending our girl to a different country, but we knew God’s command to go is for our girls as well and not just for us. Madison’s interest in the trip sparked a desire in Savanna (our middle) to go on a mission trip as well. Her interest was a service mission trip to Alaska that our church participates in each year. They go to Wasilla, Alaska and help the LaVerne Griffin Youth Recreation Camp clean the facilities and prepare the grounds for the kids that will come during the summer. However, this mission trip was during the month of May and she would be missing a whole week of school and maybe even some state testing. Unfortunately, Savanna was not able to go in 2017, but Danny was able go on the trip to see if this would be a good mission trip for her to start with.

Fast forward to 2018. Savanna’s desire to go on the Alaskan mission trip had not faded so Danny and I were able to talk with her principal and she agreed to excuse the 7 days of school she would miss. (Thankfully state testing finished the week before the trip.) We also thought it would be best if I went with her on the mission trip! So last month Savanna and I, along with the rest of our team, flew to Alaska and spent 10 days at the camp. Our team was able to clean cabins, rake leaves, fix screens, replace locks and get the camp ready for the kids! Savanna spent most of the week in the kitchen with the staff preparing meals for the team! (The kitchen is her happy place. She loves to cook!)

It was such an amazing experience to have with my daughter, showing her what it means to go and share God’s love with others! Each morning we were able to do a Bible study together at the lake and that’s something I will always cherish! I highly recommend going on a mission trip with your children! It is such a neat bonding experiencing between you and them and you and God!

“Go and make disciples” is a command of God and it’s a command for all of God’s children! We cannot get around it. Whether it’s local missions or international, God will show you what He desires for you to do! You just have to listen! I have never been on an international mission trip but He has already sent my oldest, Madison, on two of them and she’s only 14. As I write this Madison is on her second international mission trip! She is in Greece ministering to refugees! Also don’t let finances be a hindrance. Over the last two months, three of us have gone on mission trips and God has provided all of the finances needed! If He is calling you to go, He will provide!

My prayer for you, as a mom, is to be open to God’s leading for you and for your children to go and make disciples!

Blog, On Mission

Praying through Ramadan

You may or may not know that Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting is beginning tomorrow this year. Living among Muslims in Northern Africa, I had a “love hate” relationship with this month. It was a time of yummy food, visiting with friends and their families, and great opportunity to share about why I follow Jesus; however, it was also a hard 30 days in many ways. Many of my friends were just plain grumpy and hungry during the day! I like to call that “hangry”. During their 30 days of fasting, they are not allowed to let anything pass their lips from sunrise (the first morning prayer) until sunset. At sunset, a call to prayer would be extended and then families could break their fast together and eat. And eat they would!! Such delightful yummy food!!

Many of my friends didn’t necessarily know exactly why they were fasting and that it had anything to do with their God, Allah. It was just something they had to do. So this was always a great time for me to be intentional with them and share truth with them about a loving Father who longs for a relationship with them.

There are not many devout Muslims near where I live now, so Ramadan doesn’t come up in my day to day conversations; however, I still desire for my girls to know who they are as people, what they believe, and how to best pray for them during this month especially. We must not be scared or shy away from teaching them about other faiths and what they believe. If we don’t, someone else will – and that’s a whole other discussion.

There are several things that you could do to better help your little ones learn about Islam and to have compassion for our Muslim neighbor.

1. Take time to chat with your little ones about Muslims, the Islamic faith, and what they believe. Tell them about Ramadan.

If you are unsure of what exactly Muslims believe, check out this great article or this one.

And better yet, meet a new Muslim friend and get to know them! Ask them questions! Listen and pray.

2. Pray specifically during Ramadan for your Muslim neighbor, friend, co-worker. This can often times be a month of “openness” to spiritual things as they are seeking Allah and his favor. Be bold in your prayers! Maybe even pray and fast for a day or two along with them, praying to our God on their behalf!

Click here, for a great Ramadan Prayer Guide and more info about Ramadan!

3. Prepare a Meal and invite your friends to come and break their fast with you and your family. This could be lots of fun as you prepare and host! Ask them how they typically break their fast and strive to honor their traditions and culture. Be intentional during your time together to share about the bread of life, Jesus. If you don’t have a friend that is Muslim, prepare a Ramadan meal for your family and take that time to pray specifically for Muslims breaking their fast all around the world and in your community.

For some great international recipes, check out our On Mission Moms Pinterest page!

4. Be respectful of their fast. If your coworker is fasting, don’t invite them to come eat a donut on your break, but maybe do ask them to join you for a walk on your break and enjoy chatting together. Just Be mindful! It goes a long way in sharing Jesus! And teach your little ones to be mindful as well.

5. Expose them to books and movies that teach them about Islam and that are appropriate for their stage in life and faith. Books are a great way to help little ones see and learn more about life around them. Use those resources as a catalyst for conversations about why we believe what we believe and why we worship Jesus, the one true God.

Blog, Mission Ideas, On Mission, Uncategorized

Service Opportunity: Family Prayer Room

On the third floor of the Bridge, a community ministry center located in the Northside, there is a Prayer Center. A place where you can go and pray, get quiet before the Lord, and hear from Him. It’s a quiet, sweet place set aside for individual and group prayer times.

Steve Wise, Minister of Missions at First Baptist Spartanburg, has quite the plan for that place and would love to see a family prayer room become a part of the Prayer Center. That’s where we, as On Mission Moms, come in!

We’ve been asked to help plan and prepare that room for families to use as a place to come, with their little ones in tow, and pray together. What would you like to see in a family prayer room? Maybe a chalkboard wall for the little ones to draw their prayers on while Mom prays, maybe some rocking chairs to rock in as the family prays and the baby snoozes, It’s a blank page and we get to design it!

So, let’s get together and pray, plan, and prepare to get to work! We will be meeting, Wednesday, May 23rd at 6:30 in the Bridge Prayer Center. Come ready to pray and dream together and then let’s get ready to serve and build a Family Prayer Room, where we can bring our little ones to be a part of praying for God to do big things in our home, in our city, and around the world!

Blog, Mission Ideas, On Mission

Prayer Walking Fun

I love our city and our downtown area especially is really growing and becoming a fun place to be for all. The Chapman Cultural Center, our community arts center, has added great lightbulb sculptures throughout the downtown area (and beyond) and we LOVE discovering them and seeing what all each artist has created. I have taken it one step further though and used it as a fun way to introduce prayer and the importance of prayer walking to the girls.

Prayer Walking is just an intentional time of focus and prayer and simply “praying as you go.” I’ll be honest though, with a four year old and a 20 month old, there wasn’t much focus and the prayers were definitely simple and all over the place. But that is one thing I love about leading our little ones to pray and have a heart for Jesus and others – it doesn’t have to be real complicated. In fact, I think Jesus said faith was pretty simple, like a child. We have to start somewhere so even leading my sweet 20 month old to pray is so very important!

Prayer Walking, now that the weather is warming up and the sun is shining is a simple and fun adventure for all of us – kids and mommies!

1. It helps our little ones and us see and realize that the world is bigger than we are. As we walked from lightbulb to lightbulb, I was able to have great conversations about our town, the people we passed, what the lightbulb reminded us of or brought to mind and our hearts were not thinking about ourselves quite as much for just that little bit.

2. It’s gets them going and outside! And it gets us going too!! So many times it is just easier to sit or stay and while it’s easier, I’m not sure it’s always best. Don’t get me wrong, there are times and days when home is where you just need to be, but being active as children and letting your kids see you be active is huge! And mixing activity and our faith together sends an incredible message that it’s not just a Sunday “thing”.

3. Prayer walking models for them that they can pray anywhere and any which way! A lot of times, I get stuck in the rut of just praying at bedtime or first thing in the morning – prayer walking for us reminds us that we can do that any time, any where and it’s fun!

4. It focuses our hearts and minds. As we are walking and praying, we are usually more intentional and focused and it’s easier to keep our minds settled in to prayer. Often times when I’m having my quiet time at home, I’m distracted by the phone or the book or the dishes or the dirty laundry. When I’m out and about, praying as I go, I tend to stay way more focused!

5. It draws us closer to God’s heart and God’s plan for our city! When we are walking through our downtown area, praying for those that we pass, for businesses and nonprofits who are doing great work, for homeless friends sitting in the park, for growth and construction (cause it’s everywhere downtown) – my heart changes! It gives me more of a desire to be busy about God’s kingdom purposes and not just the mundane household chores or changing diapers and while those things are crucial and highly needed – sometimes we get distracted by the non-eternal things.

Is there a time when you can set aside to get outside in your town and walk and pray? Does your town have any fun art sculptures that you can center your prayers around? What are things you have done to lead your children in their prayers for the world and for their city? Share your experiences and wisdom so that we can all learn from one another!!

If you are a local On Mission Mom, here is a great resource to show you where all the lightbulbs are located, their names and story!

Also there are some fun ideas for prayer walking over on our On Mission Moms Pinterest Prayer Board.