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The Faith of a Child

02/28/2011

I am extremely thankful for the way I was raised. I grew up going to church and had amazing Sunday school teachers throughout the years. Almost all my friends as a child and teenager were Christians. I even had middle and high school teachers who spoke openly of their faith and encouraged mine. I lived in a city that had more churches than I can count and three Christian universities. And I am confident that God used that type of upbringing to shape me to be the person that I am today. For that, I am thankful.

But, it is that background that makes my world today, particularly in being a parent of two young girls in a foreign land, seem so incredible and otherworldly. I grew up, as a Christian, in circumstances where almost everything around me was “Christian.” So, it is fascinating to be parenting two girls in a city where following Jesus happens on the margins, on the outside, in subtle and often unobservable ways. Brynn is only 4 years old, and she is very aware that she “bows down” to someone other than who her friends “bow down” to. (Click here to read a previous post about Brynn and the morning rituals at her school.) The faith of my daughters is being formed very differently than my own experience. For that, I am thankful.

I am thankful that Brynn and Meg’s imaginations are being stretched as they put on nativity plays with sheets and pillowcases for shepherd costumes and share the Lord’s meal weekly with people of all ages and backgrounds. I am thankful that Brynn and Meg are learning at an early age that Christianity is not about surrounding yourself with people who are the same as you in a safe environment, but it is being a “sent people” going out into the world. I am thankful that Brynn and Meg are experiencing firsthand that we follow a God who hangs out on the margins and is cast outside the walls of the city.

With all that said, I can honestly say that I am fearful at times because I don’t have much of a frame of reference for how to parent two girls in a situation like this. Most days I long for the familiar and the blessings of my kids growing up in a context like my own childhood. But, on my better days, I am excited to see how the faith of my daughters will be shaped by them living out their faith on the margins, instead of in a place of dominance. I look forward to watching how they view Jesus differently than me because their choice to follow him will be a daily choice. I am curious how they will experience Christian community since they will need a place of strength and encouragement in order to be sent back out into the world. And I wait expectantly for how the Kingdom of God will come more fully to Phayao because of the faith, and faithfulness, of my girls.

Therefore, for the days I am overwhelmed by the pressures of parenting in a foreign land and feel nostalgic and sad that they won’t have the same experiences I had, please pray for strength, wisdom and perseverance. And for the days when I see with more clarity, please pray that I will be able to see the movement of God in the lives of my two girls.

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9 comments

  1. Well said. Thank you for trusting God to guide you as parents. Thanks for the insight into what is going on in your mind. I am very thankful to God for you. You challenge my faith. AND … I am VERY excited about what God is doing in Brynn and Meg with all of this. I hope to live long enough to witness the fruit. I love you all very much and thank God for you every day.


  2. U r awesome!!!!!


  3. You inspire me so much! You remind me to not only challenge myself but also my kids. We take it for granted. Thank you for the reminder that it is a choice to make everyday. You are an incredible father and I know that Brynn & Meg are VERY lucky to have you & Ann as their parents! I wish we could come live with you because I think that my kids are so spoiled rotten that they need a little wake up call…he-he (they may be on a plane tomorrow so be looking out for them! They will only stay a year or so…HA!)
    Love you so much! Hang in there… you’re doing great!
    K


  4. The impact your daughters are making in our world goes far beyond their relationships in Phayao. Thank you for reminding the rest of us how we need to be living outside the margins of comfort and faith.
    Blessings!


  5. Nice post! You guys are awesome parents. We continue to pray for you all.


  6. Amazing as always, D. I love reading your thoughts and am always encouraged and convicted by them. Today I am convicted to pray more ferverently for you in this area and for the girls little hearts as they come to understand who Jesus is, their purpose and identity in him and what it means to daily choose to walk in His light. We love you so much and are so proud of you and all that you are doing. Thank you for sharing your heart!


  7. Amazing words, D…and right on target. Wish we all could have seen and lived this perspective our entire lives. May the Kingdom of God and His Spirit flow into Phayao this day and every day through the lives of each of you. Love you guys. RR


  8. Oh D, love, love, love the post! It challenges me and raised little pricklies on my neck because it was such truth! I will pray specifically for your team as parents to all the little ones that are having a most wonderful, but different, upbringing. If Ann and Amy are any indicator, the fruit will be so special!


  9. Derran and Ann, I observe you raising your two girls and am amazed at the ways you as parents help them to see the Love of Christ, for all peoples. I am blessed to be on a team with Brynn and Meg, for they teach me much. Thank you for parenting intentionally in ways that allow your girls to be ‘sent out’ and surrounded by those on the margins, not labeling the marginalized as outsiders but as those they do and will call friends.



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