WORLD MISSIONS AT MY TABLE
"Mommy, Mommy! Guess what?" my sweet eight-year-old daughter excitedly told me after one of our revival services at church. "I went up and I surrendered to go to the Mission field! The Lord told me He wants me to go to China! Mommy, I have to learn Chinese! Can we do that for home school this year?"
I gently talked to my very excited daughter for a few moments, assured her we would find out about Chinese curricula, hugged her, and sent her off to tell her daddy the wonderful news. Later, we talked about this at our table over an after-church snack, discussing the service and what the Lord had shown each of us. It was at the table that my dear daughter made the most amazingly profound statement to us all. She said, "Mommy, I think some people are afraid to surrender to missions because they never had a missionary over for dinner."
I could not get away from those words! For a week, I pondered them in my heart. As I contemplated them throughout that week, I took notice of the practice of our meal table. At each meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we drew a missionary prayer card and prayed for a different missionary. We have over 100 prayer cards in a basket on our table, representing missionaries serving in 60 different countries. We have seven in our family, and each person is assigned a different day as their day to pray for each meal and the missionary card we draw. How many missionaries our children have personally prayed for over the last year!
At dinner one night, my son pulled out a missionary card, and we prayed for that family. I thought of them when they were around my meal table. I remember the wonderful time of fellowship we shared with them when they joined us on Labor Day last year for a cook out. The children must have thought about it too. Soon they were talking about that missionary family also. After the meal was over, they sat at the table writing letters and drawing pictures for that family, to let them know they were praying for them and thinking of them while they served God in a distant land.
That night, after the children were in bed, I sat at our table with our basket of missionary cards in front of me. One missionary family had seven cards in our basket. I laugh whenever I pull their card. They came over for dinner, on furlough, from a West African nation. Seeing our prayer basket, they "stacked the deck" with great drama, saying they needed extra prayer, and we promised to pray.
There was the family with nine children, close in ages with my children, who had so much fun at our house when they visited. Then there was another family with the little baby who our girls all wanted to hold!
There was the older missionary couple who raised their children on the field and had planted dozens of churches in South America. They regaled us with stories about playing soccer with teenagers, leading half of them to Christ that same day. Another card reminded me of the young couple who had both been raised on the mission field, and were now preparing to serve the Lord on another needy field. Our children enjoyed hearing about how they took a boat up the river each Sunday for church, and how they slept in hammocks in their home in the Rain Forest.
Oh, those times were more than just a romantic ideal of jet-setting around the globe! With each of the dozen or so missionaries that have sat down for a meal with us over the last few years, we have learned about the children in that part of the world. We always were challenged about the great need, and by the flames of revival flickering in many places around our globe. We have gotten to know the missionaries and their children, and can pray for them with understanding. We are able to write to them and be an encouragement.
Hospitality is such a blessing to me and to our entire family. We don't just have missionaries, but extend the table to all sorts of folks! I believe it strengthens the body of Christ when we "Use hospitality one to another without grudging." (1 Peter 4:9) However, missionaries at our table have a special place in our hearts. In some small way, it is one way we, as a family, take part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)
I went up the stairs and found one of my girls had her light on. She had her atlas (atlases are very popular with our children -- I wonder why?) open and was looking at a certain part of the world.
"What are you doing, honey?" I asked
Startled, she looked up. "I was just thinking about all of my friends that live on this page. Maybe some day I will go there too. Or, maybe God wants me to stay here to tell people about Jesus and have missionaries over for dinner and pray for them too."
That is a legacy I will be proud to pass on!
Fostoria, Michigan, USA
P.S. Kimberly has found www.chineseholybible.com with Chinese curricula for young ones. They purchased “Chinese Characters for Beginners” and have already learned four characters as a family.
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