Claudette Aleman

Missionary Family 24/7

How can you be a missionary family, every day, everywhere?” I was asked this question during our furlough in America after I shared how God was working through our family in Thailand.

This question has many factors to consider as I answer it with my own journey. In other words, these are our family’s convictions.

Understanding our calling.
Having a clear understanding of what I am willing and not willing to sacrifice.
A matter of faith.

Understanding our calling. For our family, the Bible is very clear about everyone’s calling or life purpose.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

I could further prooftext and share biblical narratives about our Christian calling, but I don’t think that is necessary; we all know them. What we need is to understand the calling from what the Bible says and not what we have made it to be. As lights and chosen people, we are to be, to exemplify, these traits daily. We are not chosen only on the Sabbath, for ingathering, or when we are encouraged to distribute pamphlets for the upcoming evangelistic meetings. For some reason, we have turned Christianity into a block of time or a high-priority activity or event.

My calling as a mom is not only during a daily block of time or as some high-priority activity. My calling as a mom is who I am, just like I am a 42-year-old Hispanic woman. That’s who I am, all the time, every day. It should be the same with our Christianity. I am a Christian every day, all day long, not only on Sabbath or when I join my church for outreach.

When I am out with friends, I am thinking of my kids and what I am going to cook when I get home. When I go to sleep, I am thinking about them and praying for them and their spiritual growth. When I go to work, I am aware of their schedule and when I need to pick them up. Being a Christian should be the same way: wherever I am, I should be aware that I am a light, and God wants me to proclaim the praises of Him who called me out of darkness. As a family, we try to be aware of those around us and how we can connect with them. We are intentional and try to see where God is working around us so we can join Him. My life, how I carry myself, and how I treat my family and others are some of the many ways I can be a light.

We must also be willing to take the next step to share and proclaim. Here I noticed that it is easy to fall into one of two groups: the shy one that feels uncomfortable sharing their Christian experience or the one that doesn’t have anyone to share with because we are too cautious in life about being so involved with the world.

I think this is where people, including our family, can get stuck. If we are uncomfortable sharing our Christian experience, maybe this is a red flag about our personal relationship with the One we are supposed to be like. I do not want to sound harsh, but there is no way to have a thriving relationship with the Lover of our soul and not start to become like Him.

Maybe we need to examine our lives. What things are preventing us from being more like Jesus? This reflection can be challenging because it calls for change and surrender, which is not always easy when we keep in mind our personality types, upbringings, etc. But it is not impossible. It is in this reflection and change that Jesus manifests His power in our lives, giving us a beautiful testimony to share.

The other situation that keeps us from sharing is when we separate ourselves so much from the world that we don’t have anyone with whom to share the gospel or invite to church, a Bible study or any other event. This can hinder both our personal and church growth. When we are out sharing, our faith gets stronger. However, when people don’t feel comfortable sharing, it could be because they have never had a Christian conversation with their family, friends, neighbors or co-workers.

Imagine what it would be like if God’s children spent time with others, like Jesus did, experiencing life together and inviting all to become part of a Christian community. Imagine the people we could meet at the store, our kids’ schools or work.

Having a clear understanding of what I am willing and not willing to sacrifice. This has been hard for me because, like most people, I also want to live in the Adventist bubble, especially for my children’s sake. However, being a missionary in the bubble will not make too many disciples. I have had to sacrifice the comfort of my bubble to be around people who need Jesus. For example, I have been with friends who were drinking in front of my children and occasionally slipped in a word that was not to my liking. This has been hard. However, this is where I have talked with the Lord about what I am willing to sacrifice. Here, I have to pray and ask for discernment on what, how much, and how often I am willing to allow these things around my children and me.

I know people who drink at every gathering, so I have only attended those get-togethers randomly and instead invited them into my own space. When invited for a movie night, I share beforehand which ones I will allow my family to watch. This way, they know where we stand. For the most part, everyone has respected our stance. In these uncomfortable moments, we have seen God move and use us as lights and to share hope. We have been able to testify why we live a different lifestyle and have even inspired others to choose the same.

A matter of faith. To be a missionary all the time has required a lot of faith because it has meant surrendering my life and schedule to the Lord. It has meant being available to the Holy Spirit’s leading at all times, even when it is uncomfortable, yet still have full faith that He will take care of us. Of course, there are boundaries too. Being available to the Lord doesn’t mean I will do every activity under the sun or say yes to everything for which I get asked. Boundaries are important. My children are important. For example, most of the time my children go with us everywhere in Thailand, but in America, we could leave them with our parents, so we could do more ministry alone with others and shelter our children from less ideal environments. Here they are exposed to more worldly thinking and behaving. However, I have asked God to protect them, like Jesus asked God in John 17:10-12:

“All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.”

I must have faith that when I am not in the bubble and my children are around people from all walks of life, God will be with them. Of course, I do ask for discernment and God’s wisdom as to who and what I will allow in my family’s life. As a family, we have taken this step of faith in which we are willing to make the sacrifices God is asking of us, but it doesn’t mean we will sacrifice our children because of our presumption or irresponsibility.

Being a missionary all the time is possible because we understand our calling. We are all missionaries. We look at life through this filter. We have heart-to-heart conversations with the Lord on sacrificing our schedules, safe bubbles, time, money, and whatever else needs to be surrendered to God in faith, trusting that He will provide, protect and guide us in this adventure. To be a missionary family 24/7, our connection with Him is crucial.

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