Micah 6.8: Beth’s Take

Last week’s message was inspiring; I always love me some Sammy Frame. If you missed it, check out the service here.

As we planned the service, I had that refrain from Courageous by Casting Crowns running incessantly through my brain, that bit about “seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God”. Great way to memorize scripture.
I’m still singing it this week.

Framing these words from Micah into context as a parent, I’ve been thinking a lot about seeking justice and how that’s worked in my family. Of course, we aim to be fair and justice and help others. But the concept is a great deal larger than what we see in our immediate range of vision. I want my kids to understand that the world is a lot bigger than what they experience living in Powhatan, Virginia.

A change of scenery opens up possibilities. In order to give my kids opportunities to catch a broader view of the world and the ways in which they can engage, we’ve made summer missions a priority. Every year, since junior high, each of my kids has gone on at least one mission trip. Financing for these trips has taken priority over vacations, activities, and stuff. We have had to choose, and we’ve foregone trips to Busch Gardens or the beach in order to prioritize missions.

The most powerful change agent in the spiritual formation of my five kids is short-term mission trips.

Through national and international World Changers, M-Fuge and The Dream Center, my kids have seen what life is like in other places. They’ve seen poverty in the third world. They’ve witnessed discrimination in Easter Europe. They’ve sacrificed comfortable beds and warm showers for 12-hour work days. They’ve learned how to put a roof on a house. They’ve built fences. They’ve befriended homeless heroin addicts.

Because they have experienced these things, they own the truth about what it takes to seek justice. It’s not just a concept, a command, or something you should do when you grow up. They have put themselves in a position to seek justice and to bring change.

Most of this was out of my control. As the mom, I simply said, “Yes. You are going.” I wrote the checks, I helped a bit with the fund-raising, but mostly, I invoked my parental authority. It wasn’t up for debate. They joined the team and made the trip.

And as a mom, it’s always a little scary. Watching your kid get on a van to drive to New Jersey brings mild discomfort. Putting three daughters on a plane to Macedonia is terrifying.

In every case, it drives you to your knees.

I’m a better parent because my kids have done missions every summer; I’ve learned to depend on God. Their eyes have been opened to see injustice. The end result is spiritual growth. In fact, they know more than I do about what it really means to serve others. They’ve seen and experienced more than I have. Most of us, as parents, want our kids to have it better than we do. In this case, they’ve surpassed me already. And although I’ll be pleased as they achieve life goals in education, careers and relationships, I can’t think of anything that makes me prouder than seeing my kids strive, in whatever small way they can, to seek justice for people who live in challenging circumstances.

If your desire is to raise your kids to love God, I can’t think of a better investment than six mission trips – one for every summer from 7th through 12th grade. I’m not sure there’s anything that has had a more powerful impact on our family. For me, it’s parenting 401; when they’re old enough to venture outside the nest, send them out to change the world.

Major props to Angie Frame, Erik Edwards, Jackie Heberle, Dana Brawley, Lonnie Brawley and others who prioritize mission trips for students. You change lives, and it matters.

Image

Sydni with friends in Puerto Rico.

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