I think one of the most popular questions that come up when someone is asking about our life with YWAM is how we fit being a young family into our work with YWAM.
Its a good question.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about our involvement as a married couple, as an expecting married couple, and as a family with a young baby, and on and on. I don’t take it lightly, and I don’t merely say “We trust God.” I am a practical person. I think about things, weigh the costs, love to plan, and I refuse to sacrifice certain things just because of some ‘missionary calling’.
First off, I tell people that ‘we do what we have to do in order to make it work’. What I mean by that is we have made choices that allow us to be a family and still be fully involved as missionaries. For example, we have lived in unusual living situations after having a baby, we have packed her up and taken her overseas, used travel sized pop-up tents for her to sleep in and nap in. We do what we have to. Brandon and I rotate our schedules or one of us sits out if it benefits Shiloh to be at home, napping, or not involved in a certain thing. We take Shiloh with us… she has experienced loud worship sessions, prayer times, lectures, sermons, work days, ministry outreaches, etc… and Brandon and I have learned to parent her in those moments, but also allow her to experience what it means to participate some also. We do what we have to.
Also, I should mention that we fully believe that children are of upmost value, and are no less important to ANY mission that we are as adults. This view has actually spurred us to want Shiloh and other children to be a part of our missionary work. Yes, in many situations, children open more doors for relationships with people. Said another way… our YWAM organization has values that it affirms and uses to guide many choices, and value #15 is:
YWAM affirms the importance of families serving God together in missions, not just the father and/or mother. We encourage the development of strong and healthy family units, with each member sharing the call to missions and contributing their gifts in unique and complementary ways.
But what about safety?? This is usually a follow-up question I get. Safety is very important to us. We are very careful about protecting our family. Just like any other parent we have child-locks on cabinets, we keep a close eye on Shiloh when the oven is on, and we are the same parents whether we are in America or in a foreign country. We probably are actually more precautions when we are traveling on outreach. Some of our traveling might seem ‘careless and adventurous’ to some… but trust us, we don’t throw caution to the wind and knowingly put our family at risk. We take the necessary steps to make sure we know any dangers in the location, and even avoid it if there is a risk, we are careful regarding health risks, and so many others.