Isn’t the Family of God an amazing thing? I find believers all around the world that have that same “click” in our hearts when we meet. It’s the Spirit of God in me that recognizes the Spirit of God in you and there’s a “testifying” that we are from the same family. Romans 8 talks about that special connection we have as members of the family of God. (Read the whole chapter- the whole thing is amazing, but this is the part I’m talking about.)
Romans 8:14-17 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g]Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
When I first met my friend Courtenay at our school here in Costa Rica, my spirit testified that she was also a member of the family of God. Others call that being “a kindred spirit”. Yeah I do like her a lot as a friend, but more importantly, my heart is connected to her because we share the same Father. She is the missionary that I wrote about yesterday who is just hoping to survive until December. Do me a favor and click here to read her blog from last week where she talks about the realities of needing money while living on the mission field. I think her honest description of how things look from our perspective is important.
Later on in the week I’m going to highlight some other missionaries so you can see just how far your missions dollars go. Missionaries buy antibiotics for sick kids. Missionaries buy cement blocks and toilets for poor families. Missionaries buy tin roofs and build schools and plant gardens in poor communities. These are the realities of where your monthly pledge is making a difference in people’s lives. To you, it’s a small sacrifice. To others it’s the difference between live and death for today. Life is precarious and precious and something miraculous happened when we prayed for Courtenay. You’ll just have to go to her blog to find out what it was.
Missionary families often say that the hardest part of our job is being far away from family. Especially when you have a close and loving extended family, you miss them a lot. When we were preparing to become missionaries, the “experienced ones” all told us that the other missionaries on your field become like the aunties and uncles and grandmas and grandpas for your children. I was offended by this idea. My kids already HAVE aunties and uncles and grandparents. I didn’t want them forgetting their real family, and I didn’t want them replacing those roles in their hearts. And I wasn’t really keen on the idea of someone else’s kids calling me Auntie. I wasn’t impressed with this substitute idea of family.
But time has passed and my attitude has softened. My kids have NOT forgotten their real family and thanks to Skype and Face Time, we can talk to them face to face whenever we want to! They know who their real family is and they love them like no other. But it can get kind of lonely and sad out here. There are no relatives to babysit for you when you need a date with your spouse. There are no proud grandparents taking pictures at your school plays or sporting events. And don’t even get me started on all the birthday parties that my family has missed and we have missed in our turn!
So here is where the missionary family comes in handy. We KNOW we aren’t really related, but we ACT like we are. I have taken care of children who are not mine– overnight, while their parents were out of the country. I have pulled loose teeth, tucked them into bed, bandaged owies, and packed school lunches for kids who are not mine. I have driven kids to school, picked them up again and taken them to youth group. I have watched school plays and cheered at sports games. I’ve taken kids to the movies and McDonalds and go carts. I’ve attended every birthday party we’ve been invited to. I’ve earned my Auntie status in a million ways.
It in no way diminishes my love and connection to my real family, but we all need a “Jesus with skin on” so to speak. We all need the Village to raise a child (we just hope and pray that our village isn’t full of idiots!). And we try to be that kind of community for others that we are missing ourselves. It’s about living in harmony with people that you don’t get to choose… just like a family.
Doing the Birthday Party Rounds!