July 9, 2012
I’ve been back from Kenya now for a couple of weeks, and I started thinking about what aspect of the experience had the greatest impact on me. Unlike previous trips, it wasn’t a particular client testimony or a conversation with a staff member. The element of this trip that affected me most was watching the four families that came on these Impact trips. We had a father come with his three sons and two different couples bring their three kids. One of the daughters was as young as eleven. Each of these families made some tremendous sacrifices of their time and resources to travel as a family to Kenya, but I truly believe that the return on that investment will be felt for years to come. For someone like me who is not a parent yet but hopes to be at some point in the future, it was a good reminder for me about the importance of being intentional about finding opportunities for my family to serve together, locally or globally.
Here are a few reasons that I believe families should serve together:
1. It gives parents and children a healthy perspective on life and faith.
More than anything else on this past trip, I heard people say, “It amazes me how these people can be so joyful despite their circumstances.” Parents and kids alike are stunned to see how Kenyans live and worship despite living in abject poverty. We are reminded that our joy is not a product of our circumstances but rather a result of a personal relationship with Christ. As the week goes on, children begin to realize that the things that they assign value and worth to are very different from that of Kenyan children. While we as young people value convenience, access to technology, and minimum discomfort, our Kenyan counterparts are hoping for a good meal at least once in a day and the opportunity to go to school. I find that going to Kenya helps young people and adults realize that the things that we make a big deal about in the U.S. are not really that big of a deal.
2. It creates shared experiences that strengthen and unify a family.
There will be aspects of this trip that these families will talk about and remember together for years to come. As they stand around preparing dinner back home, they’ll remember preparing a traditional Kenyan meal in the home of one of our clients. On Sunday mornings, they’ll remember how the Kenyans worship for 3+ hours, not out of obligation but out of desperation for God to show up in their lives. These are the kind of raw experiences that bring a family together.
3. It produces ongoing opportunities to serve beyond the experience.
As I debriefed with the families after the experience, each family shared ideas about how this Kenyan experience was not going to end upon arrival back home but continue in some way. Most commonly, families committed to pray by name for the people they met while in Kenya. One young lady has already begun painting pictures from her experience that she hopes can raise money for the ministry. Some young people are taking it back to their churches and schools and asking their peers to get involved. Families get to continue growing together as they process how to respond to what they experienced. This step is maybe the most important in the process.
I challenge all of you to find opportunities as a family to serve. More specifically, I hope you’ll consider bringing your family to Kenya. Whether or not you can pay for the experience out of pocket, many of these families raised money to go. It is an investment that will yield dividends for many years to come.
Has your family ever done missions together? How did that experience impact you and your kids?