Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whole Family Ministry

Today I am sharing the story of how we became involved in a ministry that has a special place in my heart. I have longed for a ministry that every member of my family could be involved with from the youngest to the oldest, where hospitality and the opening up of our home would play a pivotal role. A ministry that would not separate parents from children or take individual members out of the home for long periods. The Lord heard my prayers and after saying to Him ' Lord, we are available, please use us to reach out to people beyond the walls of our home and church' 

It has been an exciting first year since the initial conversation with the wife of the Pastor of a church we had attended for a number of years before moving to a smaller church closer to home. How her eyes lighted up when I explained that my daughter had a passion for China and was learning Mandarin and she told me of a wonderful couple she had met the evening before who had established a ministry to international students in our city.

Before long we had attended our first Chinese festival and were introduced to some of the students and the partners in the ministry. It became apparent that to be truly involved we needed to move back to our first church and give up the benefits of being involved in a smaller fellowship of believers.
Although we are now in a much bigger  church we feel closely connected because of our involvement in this ministry. We have been able to befriend many of the students and welcome them into our home. My husband is a mechanic by trade and he has been able to assist a number of the students by repairing their cars and helping those who needed to purchase new ones. We became aware of the number of young people from Taiwan and South Korea who were here on working holidays and by helping out just one girl we were able to befriend many others in the same group. Some we have befriended on a more permanent basis and have been able to keep in touch with and others we met only once or twice.  But it became apparent that they all loved being befriended by a family and being invited into a home. One day I received a text from one of the backpackers we had met just once. He wanted to know if he and his brother could come out and visit us again on the weekend. Of course we said yes and they turned up smiling and were delighted to see our children again. They played soccer in our backyard and jumped on the trampoline... for hours! We drove them to a lovely part of our valley for a short bush walk and invited them to stay for dinner as I could see they really did not want to leave! It was the last time we would see them as they would be traveling to Tasmania and New Zealand but I know they were impacted by the time they spent with our family.

 It is such an honour to help these young people and our life as a family has been blessed in so many unexpected ways. The day one of our sweet friends told me that I reminded her of her mother who she was missing very much and after we had visited her on her birthday and made her a cake and presented her with flowers she told us it was one of the best birthdays in her life! I was astounded. Really.. a chocolate cake made by my children and a bunch of supermarket flowers could bring someone so much joy? Sometimes the simple things say so much. I am so grateful that the Lord prompted me to go and visit her in her temporary abode taking with us most of our younger children. We met a lot more young people from Asia that day as we sat with them and my husband manned the barbecue so they could chat. 

These are just some of the stories from our whole family ministry and there will be more to come. The academic year has just begun and the students are arriving to commence their studies. Already this year we have helped out one young man with car troubles. He was a committed Christian and I sensed very grateful for the help and the opportunity to spend time with our family getting to know us. It is true that God does set the solitary in families and He needs more families who are willing to open up their homes to others, especially those who are on their own or in an unfamiliar country and missing their families.  I am grateful that we have the time and have not over committed ourselves or our children to segregated activities away from the home. The freedom to say 'When can you come out? We are home most evenings' is a wonderful thing.
Are you involved in any whole family ministry? I'd love to hear about the opportunities that exist for families to come together to share their homes and their lives with others!


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