A Note from Mary Margaret West: It’s easy to think of missions as “the thing that other people do” but we’re all called to live on mission. We have unique opportunities to lean in with girls as they understand why missions are so important, and my dear friend Laekan gives us some great ideas in today’s post. She lives and serves in Sub-Saharan Africa and I love seeing how God is using her in the lives of so many people around the world.
As a little girl, I was fascinated every Wednesday evening as I learned about missionaries in far off places while sitting in my class at church. We made foods from around the world with flavors I had never tasted before. We crafted Asian fans out of folded papers, and African beaded necklaces from brightly colored fabrics. We learned about the lives of missionaries across the globe and memorized scriptures like Acts 1:8 and John 3:16. I remember being astonished when I learned as I prayed for these superheroes that I was getting to be a part of what God was doing where they were! Decades later, I now sit in the African craft markets practicing my Swahili with the ladies who craft such beautiful jewelry and help me as I learn to share stories about Jesus.
I recently received a package from the church I grew up in with sweet letters from children I have never met amongst some of my favorite treats from their families, whom I have known for years. One piece of paper with crayon hearts drew my attention, as this little girl’s aunt told me how excited she was to send a card to “her missionary”. I was touched at the thought of these children’s excitement, and terrified at the thought that they too may believe that being a missionary is a superhero’s job.
This is anything but the truth. It is our job to break down the barriers of “missions” for the next generation from a myth of superheroes serving around the world, to the reality that it is our responsibility to walk in obedience to Christ in whatever season he has us on whichever continent he places us. There have been a handful of faithful men and women in my life who have patiently walked with me and taught me how to break down these barriers, and I would love to share their wisdom with you.
Before becoming an international foodie and getting around-the-world crafty with your girls, work to cultivate a love for the word of God in these ladies. Teach them how to study the word for themselves. Model a life that loves and obeys God’s word. Missions is a mandate directly from scripture. A love for the Word of God is paramount for a love for missions. It took me embarrassingly longer than I would like to admit to understand the simplicity of DOING what the word says. When I began to understand following Jesus means following what his word tells us- including the Great Commission- it changed everything. If you believe the word of God, you will act like you believe it. Let them in on that little secret early on!
As you live out lives in love with the Word of God- teach them about what missions is and who missionaries are. Introduce them to some missionaries if possible, in person, or through facetime or other means. Learn how to pray for them. Take away the superhero mask myth of missionaries and make it personal. Let your girls see that missions is a matter of every day obedience to Jesus, no superhero cape required. Utilize student mission curriculum in ways that engage your girls. If your church doesn’t have missionaries they are connected with, the IMB has opportunities to connect you. When it becomes personal, it becomes more tangible.
Walk with THEM. My biggest influencers as a girl were women in my life who loved God and saw my calling well before I did. They saw my giftings before I understood them, and helped me cultivate those. They gave me opportunities to serve alongside them. Celebrate how God has gifted them, and help them see how they can use their giftings for God’s glory. Help them understand their identity comes from Christ. This is a game changer!
Do Missions Together. This doesn’t mean you have to cross an ocean to serve. Start where you are. Live intentionally together—if your church has a community outlet to serve, get your group involved! Make holiday times intentional. Invite an exchange student to join you for celebrations. Learn about their culture as you teach them about yours! If you have a relationship with a BCM near you, get involved in supporting their summer missions opportunities. When your girls see college students serving on summer missions, it gives them a window in to see the possibilities to serve in their next stage of life. Get creative and have fun with this! Serving together builds relationships and breaks down barriers to the myth that “missions” requires a plane ticket and a suitcase filled with broom skirts.
As you begin to take these steps, friend, do not be surprised by how God moves! Begin praying now for these girls in your life. Pray for them to have the courage to walk in obedience. These girls God has given you today are the girls he will call in the not-so-distant future; to walk among the unreached in African craft markets learning language, to sit among the ladies with pretty Asian fans over tea to share the good news, and to work in their hometown or in a state nearby with intentionality for the sake of Christ. Pray for strong support surrounding these girls who will become women that God will use to shape the next generation. Be their biggest cheerleader! Cheer them on in the seasons as they go! You may just be surprised by how he moves in your life too, as you cheer on the next generation to love God deeply and answer his call on their lives.
Laekan loves Jesus, people, and good laughs over good coffee. She is passionate about her role of equipping university students to live out their God-given calling, whether in Sub-Saharan Africa or around the world. In her free time you can find her enjoying time with friends exploring her city, at the theatre, or on a hike with her pup.