Eyglasses, Spinach, and Missionaries – Home School and the Mission-Minded Parent

Eyeglasses, Spinach, and Missionaries

Brenda Fast, Guest Writer, Former Team Leader

A Homeschool Mom’s “Un-Bucket” list

Yes, you read it correctly–eyeglasses, spinach, and missionaries. All three of these were on my “Un-Bucket” list early on in life, and, to some extent, two reside there still.  

Because I greatly disliked eyeglasses, I vowed never to wear them, though they became a necessity in 6th grade. (Contact lens rescued me in high school–hallelujah!)  Of course, reading glasses now lurk.

And the spinach? Well, my elementary school’s lunchroom lady had assured us with a smile that the slimy greens she splatted on our plates that day were turnip greens. NOT!  I have since reluctantly made my distant peace with spinach–but I remain a cautious skeptic–with the help of vinegar.

But that third “Un-Bucket” item, missionaries, has led me on quite a journey that began, pleasantly enough, when I met my first real missionary at a summer camp in Georgia. Her name was Mrs. Bell,  a missionary to Africa. Her myriad of wrinkles and her soft white hair convinced me that she had served there for maybe a hundred years–at least! But she was soft-spoken, her eyes twinkled, and she comforted a very homesick 10-year-old who was experiencing her first day ever at camp.

Later exposure to missionaries, however, led me to the decision that missionary living was certainly not for me so the topic of missionaries likewise resided for years in my Un-Bucket as well–I thought.

A Missional Approach to Homeschooling

Now, fast forward to just a few weeks ago when our son asked my husband and me to share how missional teaching formed an influential part of our home school instruction for his older sister and him decades ago.  Missional teaching? We were, well, stumped. From our vantage point, we simply had attempted to facilitate our kids’ pursuit both of knowledge, and more importantly, their relationship with Our Father. What about that was missional teaching?  Come to think of it, what is missional teaching?

Google to the rescue: “In Christianity, missional living/teaching is the adoption of the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message.”  

Hmm…”the adoption of the …. behaviors, practices…of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message.”  So, missionaries and missional living are not necessarily synonyms? No wonder our son’s request had stumped my hubby and me!  But the light was beginning to dawn! Here’s how…

A Field Trip is a Homeschoolers Mission Trip?  

You see, one of our first “field trips” as we had entered the culture of homeschooling w-a-a-a-y back in 1985 was based on the opening words of Mt. 5:1:  “And seeing the multitudes…” That had led to a discussion about what Jesus might have noticed as He saw the multitudes. Then we had discussed what a sandal salesman or a weaver might have noted in that crowd.  

Finally we parked in the parking lot of a nearby large grocery store to watch shoppers coming and going.  For an hour, we looked, noted, observed, gazed at, and sometimes just gawked!. At first we saw only outward appearances. But soon our kids began to look more closely, discerning spoken and unspoken expressions of happiness or frustration or worry or puzzlement.  At one point one of the kids jumped out of our car and offered to return a customer’s empty cart. Later we took a moment to pray for these folks.

How Christian Homeschoolers are missional

Based on Google’s definition, without a doubt I, Mom, had just taken my first baby step in missional teaching; but I hadn’t a clue such was the case–until now!

Little did I realize at the time that, as we urged our kids to study other languages, to learn countries and capitals from around the globe, to plan extensive journeys across our own United States, or to pursue all the many other groaner projects that only Moms can inflict on kids to broaden their world view–all these, and more were missional. These skills were giving them the vision and tools to fulfill Jesus’ phenomenal missional statement in Mark 13:30-31: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Never had I grasped the missionality of these particular words of Jesus–until now.

Did we have a clue where this type of teaching would lead?  Nope! Yet, our daughter and family live passionately to assist “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse from your teeming shores….” And our son and family pour themselves daily into the lives of young people who want to impact their country and their world missionally.  

I see now that my “Un-Bucket” lost one resident years ago.

But I hadn’t a clue–until now.

Homeschooling Picture