3 Things Taking Our Toddler Overseas Taught Me about Missions

Teaching the gospel has no age barrier. We as Christ followers are commanded to make disciples of all nations—to live life with people in a way that encourages another Christ follower. When we first thought about taking our almost 2-year-old daughter overseas, we got all the questions: “Why are you taking her? She won’t remember it.” “Aren’t you afraid of something happening to her while you’re there?”

Then, we took her overseas. And it vastly expanded my idea of what reaching the nations is about. I learned 3 things about missions from taking my toddler overseas:

  1. Our children see people. My daughter did not see poverty or skin color or religious symbols. She saw people. She loved people. She lived life with, laughed with, and played with people. She taught them our saying, “God made me.” She sang hymns and praise songs. She helped lead worship with our youth and college girls as they taught and sang songs with what is known as the most persecuted people group in the world. She loved well and reminded me to love as Christ loves us—unconditionally.
  2. Our children are to be taught in the ways they should go. Sure, I could keep my daughter in America in our home and teach her about the nations. I could make sure she is safely provided for and never has an uncomfortable moment. But what does that teach her about relying on God for all our needs? What does that model for her as I choose her comfort over someone else’s eternity? We, as parents, are the main disciple-makers of our children during their first 18 years of life. Even if we don’t go overseas, we should actively pursue a life of sharing the gospel in front of our children and making disciples alongside them.
  3. Our children want to be a part of what we deem important. Whether it’s football or dance or shopping or missions, our children get really into whatever it is we deem important. Even at almost 2 years old, our toddler was flexible, handled traveling like a champ, and adapted to new cultures better than some adults—at times better than me. She saw the importance of what her dad and I were doing and how much we long for her to be a special part of it. And she thrived in it.

As a family, we are created to model Christ’s love to one another and to the world through our love for one another. Through going as a family on mission, we are able to teach our little girl about the lost in a way that shows her how to share Christ with others and how to love the least of these. This glorifies God. And in return, she shows us how to love unconditionally those we were trying to reach.

​Bekah Rivers* is a momma to a darling little girl (and a sweet pup), wife to a pastor, and advocate for all believers to be on mission.

*Name changed.

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