So I asked my father-in-law, thirty-eight years a missionary in Japan, “What was your biggest joy as a father?” He responded, “Our kids traveled with us. Where we went, they went. And they cooperated.”
People asked me, “How did you get your kids to do that?” I replied, “Do what?” They said, “We don’t see ministers or missionaries with the whole family doing the stuff. You are pulling it off. How did you teach them?”
“I didn’t have an answer. What were they seeing? I guess they observed kids not whining because they had to go along, working with each other, taking out the instruments, cleaning up and loading up afterwards, and engaging fully in the morning, not sitting in the corner playing video games. It was our life, and it was theirs. No distinction.”
“We had seen that as toddlers they made good missionaries. They invited people to church before we did. Why not bring the gang along? They got the point. It was the way we always functioned. They didn’t feel put upon for being the children of missionaries and having to go to the meeting—they were the meeting. They sang, played instruments, shared testimonies—and they still do! It is in their blood.
We didn’t hear them moaning, except when we six were in a crowded car for eight hours without air conditioning and sticking to each other. They were normal kids. But we treated them as part of the team.” (Note: Karen and Miriam played with Grandpa Phil last Sunday at our outdoor Lydia House Church. It was beautiful. Steve and Mark would have been playing had they been here. It may happen July 31st!)
Karen and I took our family along, but only in part. We were called the Von Anderson family because we sang often. Sure wish I had done a lot more. They could have gone on a many more ministry trips.
Second question to Grandpa: “What counsel would you give to young dads?” As he started talking, I started writing: “When kids run into problems, which children will, I want to encourage them more than scold them. It gets kids through problems better than harassing. If they think I’m carrying around a big stick, ready to swing it when they get out of line, they won’t feel my love. And they will get the feeling that God also has a big stick. And He wants to catch us doing something wrong, so He can whack us.”
“Not true. Nobody has a better heart. No one loves you more. Love is compelling. It is not me vs. the kids or God vs. us. We are on the same team. I wanted my children to know that more than anything else. And I was glad that my kids caught that. God is for us, not against us.” Hey, that sounds like a Bible verse.