As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids. This is number 56 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.
Our children are, quite simply, growing up in an era and (for those reading in the USA, in a part of the world) in which they have way too much; way too much money, way too much access to media, and way too many material wishes granted.
Our kids are, on the other hand, growing up with way too little; too little restraint, too little discipline and too little responsible parental guidance.
When our daughter was about fourteen years old, she and I traveled together on our first foreign mission trip to New Zealand. The trip was one in which we worked very hard and I was extremely grateful for the chance to teach ladies from all over that country. Certainly one of the best aspects of the trip was that I had Hannah along and she was able to present lessons to the teen girls. While this was a great training trip for Hannah, she did not see poverty there and she did not experience negative receptivity to our message.
Our next trip, though, was the one for which I will always be most grateful. We traveled to Jamaica and our work was done in parts of that country in which people did live in poverty. She worked very hard for all of those days in extremely hot temperatures and on rugged terrain. The physical exertion to take the gospel was teaching her that what we were doing was important—critical, even. It was a catalyst for comparison, too; knowing that the ultimate price had already been paid by One who was also on a mission (His was from heaven.) to a place where He experienced, for the first time, dirtiness, sin, crying, persecution and death. Our price, in trouble and expense, for carrying His message, was extremely minute.
When we returned to our middle class home in Alabama, was when I realized the full benefit (and the primary lesson) of that trip. Hannah went into her room and sat down on the floor, looked around, and cried. There was her pink bean bag chair, the multicolored lamp for which she’d asked Santa at Christmas-time, the Snoopy telephone, the cherry rope bed her Dad had built—the one with the trundle underneath for guests, and the curtains made of fabric she had chosen at the fabric store. There were two closets in that room and her own bathroom was off to the side. She sat down in the floor of that room and cried “Why me? Why am I privileged to have all of this? Why do I get to live like this when Princess lives with eight people in a room smaller than this one; a place where they sleep on shelves and they have to go outside to use the bathroom; a place where she’s never even had a hot shower?”
It was then that I knew her life had been changed. I knew she would never again be ungrateful for the material blessings in which we basked. Princess was a girl in Jamaica, the same age as Hannah. It had been a long and hot day and the older gentleman with whom Hannah had been knocking doors did not want to ascend the very steep and rugged little footpath that led up to Princess’ little shack. He, unable to see anything at the top of that little mountain, said “I am not going up that rabbit trail.” Hannah said “Well, I am going to go.” And so, at the end of that trip, Princess, who lived at the pinnacle of that mountain (a mountain that Hannah did need to climb), along with her young friend, Nigel, had been immersed into Christ. The life lessons about the real concept of the grace of our Prince were just being poured out by the real King into Hannah’s heart and she would never be quite the same again.
So I urge you to do it. If you can take the opportunity to take the gospel, with your young teens, to a place where kids don’t have it as “good” as your kids have it, then do it. This might be the one segment of Mama’s K.I.S.S. that has the premier lifetime benefits among all the service suggestions. Hannah raised her funding to go by writing faithful churches and members who might be able to give small amounts toward her air flight (another great preparation experience for “adulting” in the body of the Lord).
All of the benefits of all of the service examples in the Mama’s K.I.S.S. series are largely voided if we fail to place in our children the value of the eternal souls for which we ultimately are serving and the concept that all of our blessings belong to the One in whose grace we live both physically and spiritually; thus those blessings should be constantly used in His service for souls.