Confession #145: Kingdom Work is Family Work
There is a boy who lives across from the street from us called My Friend Wesley. Okay, that technically isn’t his real name. He is just Wesley. But this is the name Nalandson has called him since they first met.
Can I go play with My Friend Wesley?
Can My Friend Wesley borrow my scooter?
My Friend Wesley, pass me the ball.
We’ve tried to correct him. “Nalandson, his name is just Wesley.” But eventually it became too cute to tell him otherwise.
Nalandson and Wesley play everyday in the street together. Occasionally Dalencia tries to join in, but they often don’t want to play the girly type games she wants to, so she typically stays inside.
Wesley is one of many children. His mom owns a little storefront that sells various vegetables, laundry soap, snacks, rice and beans, cooking oil, and other Haitian food essentials. We visit her store often. It is our kids’ go-to place to buy cookies and a Tampico whenever the Tooth Fairy comes to visit.
Last week Nalandson came inside after playing soccer with Wesley and some other boys from our community. A sweaty mess (I had no idea how stinky 9 year old boys could be.) he looked at me and asked, “Mom, can I ask My Friend Wesley to come to church with us on Sunday? His family doesn’t go to church and he wants to come.”
In that moment I wanted to get down on my knees and hug my sweaty boy. At the tender age of nine, he was already starting to live out the gospel and I was so proud. But… he also smelled like a boys locker room so I sent him to get a quick shower and told him we would talk about it afterwards. I know I should have just ignored the stench, but don’t judge. It was horrid.
Now clean and smelling like Ivory soap, I sat Nalandson down at the kitchen table.
“I think asking Wesley to church is a great idea. And I am so proud of you for thinking to ask him. This is exactly what Jesus wants you to do. Did you know that?” I said holding his hand.
A huge grin took over his face. He felt the joy of the Lord and I could tell it made him feel special.
The next day Nalandson asked Wesley to come to church with our family. Wesley’s mom agreed and this morning we picked him up as we walked down the street. Nalandson brought Wesley a children’s Bible book to look at and held his hand as good friends in Haiti often do. Nalandson took Wesley to the grown up service for a while and then onto the children’s class. Once we got home Nalandson said he plans to invite My Friend Wesley to church again next week and I told him that was a wonderful idea.
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I’ve been asked a lot lately if being a missionary with kids is different than being a missionary without kids. I laugh at this question because I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about what it was like before kids. Dalencia moved in with us after six months of us living here so it was never just Hunter and me for long.
I do remember that we were a billion times more productive though. Without children, we could devote so much more time to the work at hand. Our ministry at the orphanage had our undivided attention and without our own kids to care for our energy levels were sky high. Now, as any parent knows, our kids have changed everything. Now we have to do this thing called “time management”. We have to juggle our ministry at Emmaus House with homeschool, naptime, dance class, soccer practice, and three meals a day. (Kids have to eat so much!) Our lives are exhausting and some days I honestly have to wake up and choose, Am I going to be a missionary today or a mom? Because some days, I just can’t do it all.
Sometimes however, like today, I don’t have to choose because both my missionary life and my mommy life collide. Although it seems like such a small jester, inviting a friend to church, it was assurance to me that our children are a part of our ministry. Even at ages nine, seven, and one they can be missionaries too. It isn’t just Hunter and me. Loving God and loving others is a family work.
I am so thankful God chose to remind me of this through my son today. Perhaps next time My Friend Wesley joins us for church Hunter and I can do our part and invite the rest of his family as well. And as a family we can continue to serve God together.
Are you a parent? Chime in. How are your children engaging in kingdom work wherever you live?