It's good to have Jill here today.
Don't Forget to Pack the Kids: Short-Term Missions for Your Whole Family. Don't Forget to Pack the Kids offers practical information that readers can use immediately to begin their dream of family missions. Through stories of her own family's odyssey to China and the collected wisdom of sending missions agencies, the author encourages parents to pack the kids—and go!
On to the interview:
What prompted you to write this book?
I wrote Don’t Pack the Kids out of a conviction that our families need to experience mission together as well as out of the amazing experience of actually doing it. This is true now more than ever, as statistics tell us over three-fourths of our kids will leave the church when they leave home. Why? Part of the reason is their feeling that church is irrelevant to their lives and they can get entertainment and fulfillment elsewhere.
I believe with all my heart that if we taught our kids early that the church is relevant because they are the church, and it is fulfilling because they fill it with their gifts and ministry, we could reverse those statistics. Missions can be a huge part of that.
What made you take your family on a mission trip?
My husband and I had talked about the idea of a short-term mission trip for three years. As our girls got older, I saw them adapting more and more to our relatively easy life in the suburbs. Most of the kids in their schools look, dress, and think alike. Most live in well-above-average homes. I was worried that our culture of prosperity and instant gratification would numb them. We didn't want them unaware of and unconcerned with the hurting world beyond their comfortable lives.
Where did you go? For how long?
We went to China, for two weeks. We spent the time working in a orphanage and in grade schools.
What results did you see in your family from that time?
It's not magic. Life lessons take, well, a lifetime. But we saw right away that they noticed more. They understood gratefulness on a new level. They flew to the TV to find out how “their” kids were after the earthquake in China. Things all the way around the world mattered.
Have the effects remained over time?
Of course it's easy, and normal, to get used to what you have and want more again. But I can see that they do know they can change things. I have seen them tackle tough situations in their peer lives believing they can make a difference. They've got a way of rising above the pettiness of the world beyond their ages. I do believe that's from really seeing the world, and seeing the effects of faith. And, they want to go, and have gone, on mission trips by themselves.
What obstacles keep families from going?
Money. Fear. Which is really the same thing. The money issue is fear as well. So yeah, that's the big one. I wrote the book to help families know they don't have to fear and to give them steps to take to overcome not knowing what to do.
What would you say to people who don’t believe short-term missions are a good use of resources?
Mathematically, they're not. If you go somewhere for two weeks, you won't change the world. Not yet, anyway. Yes, the people themselves could use that money more efficiently, if all you're looking at is immediate practical return on investment. But I think that's a wrong way to look at things. You need an eternal, long-term vantage. If you weigh the precise value of sending a six-year-old to China, you won't get a return on your investment that you can quantify. What you will get is a kid who grows up who loves better, cares more, and is determined to make a difference. You have no idea how far-reaching that will be. You have a family on fire for missions returning to a home church and refusing to let things be business as usual. Done wrong, yes it can be damaging. Done right, it can have a ripple effect that no one sees the end of.
What would you tell someone is the first step in the process of taking a mission trip? Pray? That's a given, pretty much. I knew when the time was right and the place was right.
What would you say to a family that wants to go but worries about the obstacles?
When we started researching our China trip, my husband had a god job, and we had just bought a house. A few month later, he lost that job, and we had to live off our refinancing for four months. We were still paying student loans. It cost $10,000 for five of us to go to China. We decided that if God called us, God would make the way. If God says go, don't let anything discourage you.
This is about more than missions, although that is so close to my heart and the heart of God. It’s about being Jesus, at any age, together. It’s about transformation for you, your kids, and your world. It’s about short-term missions but a long-term change.
Find Don't Forget to Pack the Kids: Short-Term Missions for Your Whole Family-
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View the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/user/jillmarierichardson
Thanks for joining us, Jill!