Ministry and Motherhood

For the past 10 years, my husband and I, along with our three children, have been working with OMF Mekong Minorities in Thailand. But our cross-cultural work experience began years before that when we moved to Sweden to serve at a Bible school. At that time we had two young children, our eldest son aged 2 years and our second son aged 2 months. God used the time in Sweden to teach me important lessons and shape my understanding of my role in our ministry.

Where does ministry really happen?

Early on in Sweden, I felt like ministry opportunities were ‘out there’ seemingly just beyond my reach since I had two young children to care for. My responsibilities at home, which often revolved around naptimes, feedings, and bedtime seemed to hold me down and keep me from much ‘real’ ministry. But God began to open my eyes to see that investing in my children was also a very worthwhile ministry. In fact, for that season it was to be my main ministry focus. God ignited in me a real excitement and passion to invest in my two sons, and he was gracious to show me little glimmers of the impact that effort was having in their lives.

When our sons were 2 and 4 years old, my husband and I organised a mission trip for the Bible school students over spring break. After months of preparation with the students, we went to Italy to help a cross-cultural worker there put on a week-long gospel children’s programme in a public park. How precious to watch our little boys help with set-up each day, dragging cushions from the van, carrying puppets to the puppet set, and helping model new games for the Italian children who participated. On the last day, bad weather prevented us from running the programme, so we decided to break up into small groups and walk through the rainy streets of the city, praying for the people living in the homes we passed. I distinctly remember as we walked and prayed aloud together, I invited one of our sons to pray with us, and his tiny little voice replied, ‘I already did.’ It touched my heart to hear that, at such a young age, he was picking up a desire to see others come to salvation, and that he felt part of what we were doing.

The lessons God taught me

Part of the investment in our children in our case has involved their education. God gave me the desire and confidence to home-school them without knowing the future, and we only saw later that we couldn’t have done what we did or been where we were otherwise. There have definitely been bumps along the way and it hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it! As a friend of mine often says, ‘Most worthwhile things are hard.’ Especially now as we prepare our oldest son for his gap year, I treasure the time we’ve spent together studying. From memorising Bible passages, working our way through world history, discussing scientific theories, to studying logic and apologetics, and maybe even the tough maths lessons! I’m so thankful that God changed my heart and attitude and gave me the eyes to see the treasures he had given me in my children.

The lessons God taught me in those early days of cross-cultural work actually apply to many other areas of life. He was teaching me to abide in him, to resist the temptation to get my value from what other people think of me or from what I do, but instead to receive that sense of identity and worth from him. I was learning to rest in him and bloom where I’m planted rather than always wanting to be in the next place, the next phase. Those are valuable lessons that I’ve taken with me (and occasionally have to relearn!) through the years as different phases of life have afforded a variety of other ministry opportunities. I’m thankful that God has been faithful to minister to me and also to use me for his eternal purposes in every season of life.

Written by Deborah

A Canadian, Deborah has served with OMF's Mekong Minorities team since 2013, together with her husband, Oliver, who is from Germany. They serve among the S'gaw Karen people in the hills of North Thailand, working to see S'gaw Karen believers inspired and equipped to share the good news of Jesus with other Karen villages, nearculture people groups, and beyond.

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