In This Issue: Katie Bennett’s Summer
- FEATURE ARTICLE: Putting Our Kids in Cool Places
- SUBVERSIVE MOBILIZATION: Hire Us to Write or Speak for You
- MISSIONS EVENTS: CQ, KE101, and Language Learning
Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!
FEATURE: Putting Our Kids in Cool Places
After years of challenging parents to obey God by releasing their children to serve in other cultures, Ann and I sent our own 15-year-old daughter to the other side of the world this summer. Actually, we just stepped aside for half a moment and she darted by – excited to serve God and experience life on a new part of the planet.
As a result we have a fresh sense of the wonder, the heartache, the joy, and the fear found on both sides of journeys such as this. I have deeper empathy for the parents, particularly those making “one-way ticket” sorts of sacrifices.
With my new-found understanding and a growing sense that experiences like Katie’s are very helpful, I thought I’d let you hear more about it. So, when the two of us were en route to a Perspectives class last week, I interviewed her. Here’s what she had to say.
Shane: So Katie, tell us what you did this past summer.
Katie: I went to the capital city of a Middle Eastern country where I nannied for a family we know. They have six little boys I cared for and watched over.
Shane: Your parents let you spend the summer in the Middle East? Are they crazy?
Katie: They might be, but this particular decision doesn’t really indicate it. The city I went to was pretty safe. It’s not a very conservative country so I didn’t have to cover in the capital. I could walk down the streets by myself, too. My “summer mom” told me that the country had the second-highest percentage rate for hitting Westerners with cars, but I managed to look both ways before I crossed the street.
Shane: What made you want to spend the summer in the Middle East?
Katie: At first, I really didn’t want to. I was preparing to go to England to visit the town I used to live in. A few months into planning that trip, my mom suggested the Middle East just in case England didn’t work out. I was less than enthusiastic. When my plans for England did fall through, we started discussing the Middle East. By that point I was really just ready to go anywhere. The closer I got to leaving, the more I wanted to go to this place specifically. My dad went there just after college, I thought it would be so fun to go to the same place on my first solo trip.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to England was because I knew it. That reason flipped around when I was getting ready for the Middle East. I wanted to experience someplace completely new to me. I also had an opportunity to spend a week of the summer in the United Arab Emirates. Nobody in my family, not even Mom or Dad, had ever been there! The time in the UAE was a meeting for expatriate families living all over the Middle East. I was excited to spend time with expat kids and hear their stories.
Shane: What do you feel like prepared you to do this kind of stuff?
Katie: Traveling when I was little definitely helped. We moved to Europe when I was six. We lived there for a few years and I loved it. Having those experiences when I was small made me want to travel more when I got older. I also think God has wired me up with an inclination towards new experiences and a desire to try stuff out. I liked the idea of doing it on my own. It seemed like a good step at this point in my life.
Shane: Did you have any hesitations or concerns?
Katie: I was a little hesitant about the heat. My expectations were worse than the reality. Because of the way the houses are built, the inside of the house didn’t heat up during the day as much as I thought it would. I was also hesitant about the language. I didn’t speak any Arabic and I assumed that the majority of the Arabs wouldn’t be able to speak English.
It was hard to say goodbye to my family and friends and to miss out on their normal summer activities while I was gone.
Shane: What did you do while you were there? Describe an average day for us.
Katie: Most days I would help my summer mom with the boys. I’d help with the cooking and cleaning and look after the boys if she had somewhere she needed to be. I walked down to the park with some of the older boys a few times. We’d play soccer and play on the playground until it got too hot and we had to go home. I would read books and play games with the younger boys. They all got used to having me around. I became part of the family while I was there.
Shane: Don’t feel like you have to toot your own horn or anything, but do you feel like this was a valuable service to your summer mom and dad?
Katie: I do. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to serve them this summer. I think it was good for them, especially my summer mom, to have a daughter. And because I was there my summer mom was able to focus on some administrative tasks and free to go shopping without the kids.
Shane: What did you learn about God this summer?
Katie: I realized how much he loves people. I was hanging out with all these people who were giving their lives to work with Muslims and build relationships with them. I saw how much God wants to reach those people. I was also able to interact with an Arab pastor. I impressed by the love he has for God and his passion for telling his people about God.
Shane: What did you learn about yourself?
Katie: I learned that I want to do what I’ve seen people doing this summer. I want to work for God, to help reach people who may never have a chance to hear about him.
Also, about halfway through the summer, it occurred to me that I wasn’t the logical choice to spend a summer watching kids. My younger sister Anna would have done a lot better with them because she’s not as bossy as I am.
Shane: Any regrets about the summer?
Katie: I wish that I had spent more time with Arabs. I went there hoping to make at least one good Arab friend and was disappointed that didn’t happen. While there were some things I could have done differently, it’s also just the nature of what I was doing. I was in the house caring for my boys; I couldn’t be hanging out with Arab friends.
Shane: Would you recommend this kind of experience for other 15 year olds?
Katie: Yes, I would. I think that it’s a really good thing for kids my age to see things beyond their world. It’s good for them to be challenged and have new experiences.
Shane: Even among Muslims?
Katie: Especially among Muslims. If we don’t hang out with Muslims when we’re 15, I suppose we’re less likely to do so when we’re 25. And some of us, maybe a lot of us, need to do that.
Shane: What’s ahead for you next summer?
Katie: Mom says I’m staying home with her. But I met some families I might be able to work with in Chad and Ethiopia. Or I might “swing for the fence” and try to get the whole family to move back to Europe.
>> You can read more about Katie’s summer here.
>> Please feel free to go to the Missions Catalyst website to comment with ideas on how we might wisely (but radically) let our kids hang out with people who haven’t heard much about Jesus.
>> If you know any 15-year-old kids you’d like to see leave the country (!), you could forward this to their parents.
SUBVERSIVE MOBILIZATION: Hire Us to Speak or Write for You
A few months ago, Marti, the Miss Cat managing editor, sent out an appeal for funds to keep this ezine flying over the web. The response was great. Thank you to those who sent in money to keep us publishing.
If you didn’t respond to that appeal by sending in money, no worries. If you would like another way to help Missions Catalyst grow and accomplish the work God has in mind, though, how about this: Hire us to write or speak for you.
Marti, Pat, and I all raise some or all of our living expenses through donations. At the same time we love the opportunities God gives us to speak and write. When doing the latter also brings in money to cover the former, it feels like a wonderful symbiosis – like when little birds eat the bugs that are antagonizing large land mammals!
So if you need some missions stuff written or have a crowd you want spoken to, drop us a line. We’d love to help you accomplish your goals and Missions Catalyst would be helped in the bargain. Thanks.
MISSION EVENTS: Recently added to our mission events calendar
September 13 – Cultural Intelligence (CQ): How to Assess and Develop It in Your Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI, USA). One-day seminar featuring David Livermore of The Cultural Intelligence Center.