Written by Shane Bennett , August 8th 2010
After years of challenging parents to obey God by releasing their children to serve in other cultures, Ann and I sent our own 15-year-old daughter to the other side of the world this summer. Actually, we just stepped aside for half a moment and she darted by – excited to serve God and experience life on a new part of the planet.
As a result we have a fresh sense of the wonder, the heartache, the joy, and the fear found on both sides of journeys such as this. I have deeper empathy for the parents, particularly those making “one-way ticket” sorts of sacrifices.
With my new-found understanding and a growing sense that experiences like Katie’s are very helpful, I thought I’d let you hear more about it. So, when the two of us were en route to a Perspectives class last week, I interviewed her. Here’s what she had to say.
Shane: So Katie, tell us what you did this past summer.
Katie: I went to the capital city of a Middle Eastern country where I nannied for a family we know. They have six little boys I cared for and watched over.
Shane: Did you have any hesitations or concerns?
Katie: I was a little hesitant about the heat. My expectations were worse than the reality. Because of the way the houses are built, the inside of the house didn’t heat up during the day as much as I thought it would. I was also hesitant about the language. I didn’t speak any Arabic and I assumed that the majority of the Arabs wouldn’t be able to speak English.
It was hard to say goodbye to my family and friends and to miss out on their normal summer activities while I was gone.
Shane: What did you do while you were there? Describe an average day for us.
Katie: Most days I would help my summer mom with the boys. I’d help with the cooking and cleaning and look after the boys if she had somewhere she needed to be. I walked down to the park with some of the older boys a few times. We’d play soccer and play on the playground until it got too hot and we had to go home. I would read books and play games with the younger boys. They all got used to having me around. I became part of the family while I was there.
Shane: Don’t feel like you have to toot your own horn or anything, but do you feel like this was a valuable service to your summer mom and dad?
Katie: I do. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to serve them this summer. I think it was good for them, especially my summer mom, to have a daughter. And because I was there my summer mom was able to focus on some administrative tasks and free to go shopping without the kids.
Shane: What did you learn about God this summer?
Katie: I realized how much he loves people. I was hanging out with all these people who were giving their lives to work with Muslims and build relationships with them. I saw how much God wants to reach those people. I was also able to interact with an Arab pastor. I was impressed by the love he has for God and his passion for telling his people about God.
Shane: What did you learn about yourself?
Katie: I learned that I want to do what I’ve seen people doing this summer. I want to work for God, to help reach people who may never have a chance to hear about him.
Also, about halfway through the summer, it occurred to me that I wasn’t the logical choice to spend a summer watching kids. My younger sister Anna would have done a lot better with them because she’s not as bossy as I am.
Shane: Any regrets about the summer?
Katie: I wish that I had spent more time with Arabs. I went there hoping to make at least one good Arab friend and was disappointed that didn’t happen. While there were some things I could have done differently, it’s also just the nature of what I was doing. I was in the house caring for my boys; I couldn’t be hanging out with Arab friends.
Shane: Would you recommend this kind of experience for other 15 year-olds?
Katie: Yes, I would. I think that it’s a really good thing for kids my age to see things beyond their world. It’s good for them to be challenged and have new experiences.
Shane: Even among Muslims?
Katie: Especially among Muslims. If we don’t hang out with Muslims when we’re 15, I suppose we’re less likely to do so when we’re 25. And some of us, maybe a lot of us, need to do that.
Shane: What’s ahead for you next summer?
Katie: Mom says I’m staying home with her. But I met some families I might be able to work with in Chad and Ethiopia. Or I might “swing for the fence” and try to get the whole family to move back to Europe.
Shane Bennett - Missions Catalyst
The complete article can be found on the Missions Catalyst website
Tags: Adventure, Children
This entry was posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 3:37 pm and is filed under AREAS OF MINISTRY, Middle East, Reports & Reviews, WORLD MISSION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.