Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Missionary nannies

Pete, I found a new job for you. Sorry, couldn't pass this one up.

Will Ya Do It for the Kids?
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From: Shane Bennett

When you've been a mobilizer as long as I have, you pick up a few tricks. (C'mere, youngster. Pull up a chair next to Uncle Shane and let me tell you a thing 'r two. And bring me a glass a tea, will you? No ice.)

Now you've surely never done this one, but you've seen it, right? If you spin an issue so people see that it might affect children, you get more attention and much more response. People are just more apt to jump out of the pew to do something for cute (or even not-so-cute) kids than they are for fat, old guys with bad breath! Kids move people. Manipulative mobilizers know how to use (abuse?) this dynamic.

For this month's Practical Mobilization article, you might think I'm slipping to such depths, but I hope there's no manipulation here. Just an idea that has crossed my desk and mind lately, one I think deserves more-widespread attention.

I feel a little bad about this idea because I'm excited to advocate for it, but I'm never going to do it myself. Curious?

Missionary nanny.

This seems like such a great way for two whole classes of people, in particular, to get exposed to the world while making an honest and worthwhile contribution to God's Kingdom.

The first class consists of young, single women. Here's an opportunity for a female missionary to live in some of the furthest reaches of the planet without totally making her dad panic. She would live with and be under the protection of an experienced missionary family. She would serve them and release them to be more effective in their work. This service would likely take the form of child care, education, and household duties.

Older women might also find great fulfillment in this role. When I'm speaking to a church crowd on Sunday morning, I love to mention a skill that many people have, but few recognize as applicable to missions. I'll ask "How many people have raised children?" Many will raise their hands. I'll ask "How many have raised children that other people enjoy being around?" Most hands stay up, and if I'm lucky a few people chuckle. Then I use my serious voice and say, "You have developed skill and expertise through managing your home and raising your children that can make a significant impact in the lives of missionary families."

Understanding The Need

We've all seen the pattern: A young couple finds each other and has a growing vision for the world. Their local church is so happy because you can just see these guys will make great missionaries. They marry, wait the required amount of time to solidify their marriage, then head off to the wild blue yonder. Let's say they go to Shanghai. As the circle of life goes, in several months you hear the exciting news that a baby is on the way. A year or so later, baby number two, then three. Before their first furlough they might have built their own people group!

Now imagine what their house is like: Their life is filled with ministry, they're living in a strange culture, and Grandma is half a globe away. Though they live in arguably one of the most modern cities in the world, their apartment is a jungle as wild as any you might see on a three-day paddle from civilization in Central Brazil.

They need someone to say, "Hey, I know what it's like. Here's what I tried and it worked okay." If the connection can be made and such wisdom applied, that young family might experience a season of peace that they didn't know could ever be. And that might lead to a season of success in ministry that they hadn't even imagined.

Many of the people who think they have the least to offer actually have the most. Missionary nanny is a role that can release the hard-earned wisdom and expertise of our experienced moms.

Seizing The Opportunity

The first logical stop to learn more is missionnannys.org. Yes, astute spellers, the plural form of "nanny" is "nannies," but trust me, that's the correct url. It also seems wise to inquire with the missionaries sent out by your own church. Would a family your church is already connected with benefit from a nanny - or home-school teacher? Finally, check with a respected agency. My new tribe, Frontiers, has opportunities to play just such a role in some really cool cities around the globe.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but a missionary-nanny opportunity could end up in a big mess. If you're considering doing this or you're encouraging someone you care about to consider it, please ask yourself and the family you'll serve some honest questions:

* How would a role like this fit in with what God's doing with my life?
* What exactly will I be expected to do? Can you list my responsibilities?
* What time will I have off?
* Will there be time for me to hang out with local people? Learn the local language?
* What will the living arrangements be?
* What will the financial arrangements be?
* Is this a last-ditch effort to convince your wife to stay on the field? (You might want to find a more subtle way to ask that one!)
* Have you had previous experience with a missionary nanny? How did it go?

A Call to Mobilizers

Will you join me in throwing out the net for this particular role? Missionary nannies and home-school teachers can be a great asset to families living and working in frontier situations. And they can be a wonderful shaping experience in the lives of both older and younger women (or men!). Finally, they can minister love and care to some sharp, young kids, braving challenging lives in strange cultures.

Can we do it for these children? If it makes a difference for only one of them, it will be worth it. (Oh, sorry. I got a little manipulative there at the end!)

If you have thoughts to add to make this a conversation rather than a monologue, please send me an email. If you have a real-world missionary-nanny story to tell (either as a nanny or one nannied), either good or bad, I'd love to hear it.

And as always, feel free to pass this issue along to anyone else you think might be interested!

2 comments:

Pete said...

Aaron,
This is a great idea! I'm sure Rhiannon would love to have someone to watch you while she's out working:). But seriously, I'm feeling a call to start the ministry field of pastoral back scratchers and then, once I get that up and running, I'll devote my full attention to this nanny thing. Great article! Thanks for the entertainment.
Pete

Aaron D. Taylor said...

It is always fun antagonizing you Pete.