To be honest I used to be in that camp. The one that felt like traveling with children overseas was something people should wait to do until their kids are old enough. This way, they could fully understand and remember the significance of it all. I would look at those brave, brave parents boarding flights with sometimes up to five littles and think “why dear Lord would they do that to themselves?”
That is until I had kids of my own. Funny how we all think we have it figured out until we have children.
When the opportunity arose for my husband and I to join a ministry called “Heart of David” on a trip to Israel to visit sights and join in on a worship event called “Awake Jerusalem”, I knew we should go. Going to Israel was always something we knew we wanted to do, and this special occasion was the ideal opportunity. The only problem was, we weren’t ok with leaving our kids behind for nearly two weeks. So, it was final, we decided to make this a family affair plus a nanny!
Even though my children have flown more times than I can count, they have not done an overseas, 11hr flight. So, it was the flight and getting through security that I was most nervous about. To my surprise, they did amazing. Thank the Lord for games and movies on iPads! They did great resting on the plane and somehow loved the airplane meals.
Once we arrived, we went directly into a tour and stayed super busy visiting various sights each day. Our kids were troopers, and did amazing within the tour. Our four-year-old, who still naps, fell asleep numerous times on the bus or at sights. He would always wake up rested and ready to go explore. Kids are resilient and seem to have this mysterious never ending energy I would love to have some of.
You may still be thinking, “that’s great, but they still won’t remember”, and the thing is you are most likely correct. But, that’s not the main reason we brought them.
“Children learn more from what is caught than from what is taught.”
So many seeds were planted in their hearts on this trip.
My five year old daughter became more alive than ever in dance during times of worship. She watched with big eyes, as skilled young adults used dance to worship the Lord. Before long she joined right in.
Sure, they did lots of rock climbing on the Mount of Carmel, where Elijah called down fire, but they also sat down to sincerely worship along with the adults.
Sure, our son asked for snacks too many times on the Sea of Galilee boat ride, but he also stared out into the water and said, “this is where Jesus walked on water!”, contemplating how cool that was.
Sure, they enjoyed the hotel pool in Tel Aviv and swimming in the Mediterranean, but they also met another family from England and joined right in on their games. Just one of the numerous experiences that opened their eyes to other accents and cultures, giving them a better world view.
Sure, I didn’t like how muddy the water was at the Jordan River, but I let the kids get in anyway. They got an up-close view of numerous members of our team getting baptized. This part must have been much more memorable to them than I thought, because they came home and starting baptizing each other in our swimming pool.
Sure, traveling with children isn’t glamorous or relaxing, but I am so glad I chose to do what truly accelerates our children’s faith most, and that is experiences that leave an imprint on their hearts forever.
I pray you too have the opportunity to go abroad on ministry trips as a family. I look forward to many more trips abroad with ours. This is just the beginning, and it was a great trip to really break them in, as well as open my eyes to the bigger purpose behind bringing kids into what you are passionate about.
I’ll end with a quote I just so happened to read this week from Jaime Ivey, that I couldn’t agree more with!
“We cannot teach our kids to give their lives away for the gospel when all they see is us giving away our lives for them.”