Generational Legacy: How Support Raising Impacts the Future Missionaries in My Families

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By on April 1, 2012   /   Leave a comment

I recently listened to a sermon on the life of David that referenced the generational impact of David’s sins on his family. Scripture has numerous references to the sins of the fathers carrying over to the next generation and beyond. My mind was drawn towards the implications of that idea – generational legacy and impact – as it relates to missionaries raising personal support. Although hardly a scholarly research project, I spent time exploring this issue with some of our cross-cultural workers who come from missionary families that raise support.  I came up with some pretty strong threads that, when woven together, create a tapestry that can be either strong and positive…or frail and unsightly.  Here are just a few of my discoveries.

Missionary parents who diligently work hard help paint a complete picture of what faith looks like for their children.

1.     The parent’s level of financial support impacts not only the family budget and sense of economic security, but also contributes to how the children develop in their feelings towards God and His provision. One missionary kid (MK) stated that during his growing up years his family was always struggling financially and that was the main reason he ran from God’s call to missions for almost a decade. He didn’t want to live like that and wasn’t convinced God would take care of him and his young family. While the average missionary would certainly consider themselves people of strong faith, it’s not unusual for them to reflect to the next generation a firm belief that God really does fully provide. The biblical truth is, God will amply supply every bit of life and ministry needs we will trust Him for.

2.    The parent’s attitude towards raising support models for their children whether it is a faith-oriented spiritual exercise or something much more worldly-oriented. Approaching ministry partner development with a negative attitude—as a necessary evil and drudgery—leaves children with the impression that raising support is more of a man-centered activity that we must do to make up the difference when God’s provision isn’t sufficient. Raising support isn’t just the financial means to our ministry, it is actually an integral part of our ministry. Conversely, a healthy, scripture-centered attitude encourages our children to take their own bold steps of faith as they begin to trust God for what He can do in their lives. Realizing they can trust Him in the small things, like money, helps them trust Him in the more important areas of life. It also models for them a healthy perspective of what whole-life stewardship ought to look like – being faithful stewards of time, talents and financial treasures.

3.    Missionary parents who are willing to diligently work hard to develop a team of ministry partners and maintaining full support help paint for their children the complete picture of what faith looks like. They trust God to do all that He has promised, but also willing to do the hard work support raising requires so that God’s provision is fully realized. In the same way that Philippians 4:19 (“And my God will supply all your needs…”) is a promise conditioned on the faithful and generous giving of the Philippian believers found in verses 14-18, I firmly believe that for support-based missionaries God’s full provision is based upon our doing the hard work of inviting people to participate in Great Commission through their giving. The impact of this on the next generation of missionaries in our families is that it encourages them, that they too, can find joy and security in being a part of God’s plan of kingdom expansion. It keeps them from falling prey to the mind-set that being a missionary requires a beggar’s mentality and it makes ministry something that is exciting and attractive to them.

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