Missionary Care

Involving Your Kids in Ministry: Part 2

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As a dual college professor and healthcare professional here on the field, I often preach to my students and patients that children are not just “little adults.”  They have distinct physiological, emotional, and developmental needs that are different from those of an adult. Similarly, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, children of missionary parents are not just “little missionaries.” My kids’ roles in ministry and family life are diverse and very important, but their job on the field is very different from mine and my husband’s. We consider it our greatest responsibility and privilege to point our kids to Christ as we all do the work of ministry together.  But I also realize and empathize that the little years of parenting can be tough as we try to balance being present and intentional in our homes with engaging those around us with the good news of Jesus. Here are some practical and simple ways that we use to bring our kids alongside us in the work that we’ve all been called to do.

Love the Friends They Choose

Because of our schooling situations, our kids have made very close friends with other kids from all over the world. While there are definite challenges due to different cultures and backgrounds, we also see this as an added opportunity from God to share the love of Jesus with these families. We ultimately desire to share the Gospel among all those who have not yet believed—not just the “people group” we came to serve. For our kids, these friendships began organically and do not feel like work or a project that they need to complete. As parents, we see this as an incentive to get to know these families well, thanks to the shared interests of our kids. We schedule playdates and meals together and discuss with our kids how to use these times to also share truth.

Utilize Shared Interests

I have often heard that laughter is a universal language. Well, here in Europe, this could also be said for football (or soccer for us Americans). Whether it is a pickup game in an empty lot or a scheduled practice with a club, the shared love of the sport attracts kids of all backgrounds, regardless of their native tongue.  My daughter loves arts and crafts, so after teaching her to crochet, we met with some local friends to teach them as well. Acting on these common interests has made relationship-building feel less forced and less dependent on speaking a shared language. This often still requires having a parent nearby for our kids’ safety and comfort, but it also gives them the opportunity to confidently interact with our neighbors and friends in a less stressful way.

Let Them Serve Behind the Scenes

Realistically, due to the nature of the types of ministry we do, our kids cannot always participate in main events. They cannot treat my patients or teach my students for me. But over the years, they’ve been pushed through hospital corridors in a stroller and bounced by nurses while I worked. They’ve sat in the corner reading while their dad taught a class. Now, as they’ve gotten a bit older, they’ve begun to take ownership of their role in our family ministry in valuable ways. They sort and organize, help with cleaning, run to the local store for forgotten items, or assist with baking. They have gifts and skills that add so much value without having to be the face of our ministry. This not only enables us all to serve well, but it also allows others around us to see our kids growing in humility and obedience.

Prayer Walk

We really love going on family walks around our neighborhood. As we walk, we look for new neighbors moving in and take note of parks or playgrounds nearby. We wave to old neighbors and explore new streets. Our kids especially love trying new snacks and treats from stores we pass. This time outside together allows us to talk freely, ask questions, and give thoughtful answers. To keep stress levels low, we offer sentence prayers as we walk and notice people and places, rather than stopping and drawing attention. When we hear the Call to Prayer from the local Mosque, we pray specifically for our Muslim neighbors around us. Our goal for our kids in these younger years is to help them form a habit of noticing the world around them as they go and feel comfortable bringing their thanksgiving and requests before God moment to moment throughout their days.

Serving as a family requires a steady pursuit of humility. We parents often need to stop and reassess our priorities to ensure that our minds and hearts are set on Christ as we lead our families and love our neighbors. Our kids are learning to set aside their own desires, learn the ways of faithfulness, and walk in obedience. We fail regularly, but we also rejoice together over the work that the Father is doing in our hearts as we serve him together.


  • Missionary Care
  • Women
Allison Karel

Allison and her family will always call Mississippi home but have had the privilege of serving with the IMB among Muslim peoples since 2014. Currently living in Europe, she spends her days drinking strong coffee with friends, using healthcare strategies to engage women with the Gospel, teaching college students, and chauffeuring her kids around town. When she's not studying yet another language, she is probably reading or crocheting.

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