“Any age is the ideal age.”
God’s calling can be realized at any time. We were called with two teenagers and a six year old. When we got to Peru our daughter was just shy of her 17th birthday and had to finish her last year of high school online. Our oldest son was 13, and our other son was 6. If we had looked for the ideal situation we would have missed God’s call.
I’m sure you could find some man-made guidelines for service, maybe an organizational structure that would tell you something like, “We can’t use you: your teenagers will make it difficult for you to serve.” Sounds crazy.
When we were called, we involved our children right from the beginning. They knew exactly where what and why we were going. We told them that we knew God was calling but in no way were we expecting them to continue our ministry. We involved them in many decisions and then we led them. We have never expected that they will take over; we want them to know God’s individual will for their lives.
Were there some difficulties? Absolutely. Our daughter had to finish high-school remotely with very bad internet service. They left all their friends and family behind. Our 13 year-old left everything he loved… snowboarding, hockey and hunting. He came with little language training. It took two years in country before he made good friends and had a really good vision for the ministry. It was tough.
But they will tell you now they wouldn’t change a thing. God will show you the call. If you are following His will He will make it happen. Sometimes the greatest mistakes we make are listening to others and not listening to God. Hope it works out for you! Go with God.
Answer from Scott in Peru, who served part-time in Cuba and has been in Peru for six years.
Our oldest was just starting his teen years
In general, the younger kids are when you go overseas, the easier it is for them. The older they are the harder the adjustment. That is why mission agencies are hesitant when a couple has older kids. Older kids have become accustomed to US culture and can be very unhappy leaving what they consider home.
Our kids were about 13, 11, and 9 when we moved overseas. Granted, we were heading for a large city in Latin America so that was a plus. But the bigger piece was that we saw it as something “we” were doing rather than something “I” was doing. And we treated it as an adventure. That means our kids were aware of what we were planning to do and involved in the interaction and preparation. We learned about culture together, we discussed our feelings and their feelings, we realized each was different and would respond differently to the change. And we didn’t expect them, especially the oldest one, to become like the teenagers in the country we were going to. And we prayed for friends their ages and did our best at helping them fit in.
And we treated it as an adventure for all of us. See my post on GoServeLove.net for details. Our oldest did okay yet was glad to go back to the US for his Senior year of high school. Yet his time in Latin America was still a piece of his growing up that he appreciates.
Answer by David who currently lives in St Louis after spending 20 years in Guatemala and Colombia with One Challenge. Currently working with the M-DAT team.
Editor – See also Children’s Ages are Key