I am sure you have heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” and this strong-willed little girl needed that village. I needed God-fearing men and women to help point me in the right direction.
If you are a pastor’s kid, like me, you had an entire congregation “watching out” for you. Couple this watchmanship with Hispanic interdependency, and now you have an army of people willing and ready to pinch you if you ever got out of line. Those were the days. While I’m thankful for those who were ready to use “the rod,” or their fingers, to discipline me in the way of the Lord, I am EXTREMELY grateful for those women who saw me as a little girl with kingdom purpose.
Dr. Richard Ross, professor of Youth Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, says, “About 40 percent of teenagers will become lethargic church adults, showing little transformation and making little kingdom impact.” In his book, The Senior Pastor and the Reformation of Youth Ministry, Dr. Ross warns pastors that spiritually lethargic adults will create spiritually lethargic youth. His statements are sobering — how many times have we seen this happen?
I can’t imagine the stress parents have raising their children in today’s society. I have two nephews, five nieces and one baby nephew on the way. While I might wear a t-shirt that says, “Love them, spoil them, give them back #Auntlife,” my goal is to encourage their purpose in fulfilling the Great Commission, invite them to celebrate the gospel and help them develop adoration for King Jesus.
The namesake for the Texas Missions Offering, Mary Hill Davis, once said, “Who- ever properly instructs a child in missions, and encourages the grace of giving and unselfish sacrifice, thereby gives to the world another missionary.” Loving children in the world of WMU means to prepare them for the mission field.
WMU views missions discipleship as a tool to help every child live in unshakable pursuit of God and His mission. Our desire is for all children to take an active role in their faith. Missions “education” helps open their eyes to the love that God has for them, and it inspires them to share that love with the world.
However, in a recent video conference with Dr. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, his plea for more missionaries lies heavy on my heart. Where are our missionaries? Church, have we become lethargic in creating readiness for pursuit of God and His mission?
WMU, have we become comfortable with mission projects without creating urgency of the gospel? Did we forget that our mission to “make disciples of Jesus who live on mission” is actionable?
It’s time. It’s time to overhaul our methods and once again “love our children” by modeling, training and offering experiences that will accelerate their development towards a gospel-urgent adulthood.
Liz Encinia is executive director-treasurer of Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union.