Dave Simmons who discipled me once said, “You won’t know how well you raised your children till they have raised THEIR children.” Meditate on that as you read about a precious young couple serving Christ in Germany. Also, reflect on Paul’s words from 2 Cor 10:16, “(That) we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.” (ESV)
Taylor and Lydia Whitley are bearing the fruit of their parent’s raising and spreading the Gospel where others have not. I’ve known of Taylor since his birth, and his mom and dad since 1980. In other words, I can give testimony to the power of home/family discipleship about Taylor, and now Lydia. The longer I live, the more I’m impressed that not many apples fall far from their tree. Taylor and Lydia fell close to their family tree! I don’t know Lydia as well as I do Taylor, but you will find her parents impressed Christ upon her through her formative years also.
Aside: Parents, know for sure that what your children see at home is much more powerful than just making sure they’re in church on Sunday.
Taylor and Lydia are involved in international missions, which is not just a church in another country but a congregation with a true international flavor. These congregations began as places for military families to worship, but with the decrease in American military presence these congregations reinvented themselves for all flavors of believers. Taylor described their congregation as: “Comprised of 1/3 Americans and American military, 1/3 Germans, and 1/3 of 50 different nationalities. An international church is a culturally diverse community of Christians who are united in worship through a common language. Since English is the global business language it is also the language of the international church.” I’d like to suggest that is what the Bride of Christ will look like in heaven?
Taylor’s dad and mom have been a pastoral family since about 1988. Lydia’s dad and mom have been seminary professors for just about as long. As a result, both grew up having the Gospel modeled for them at home first, then outside the home. When I asked about why they chose to go to Germany rather than minister in the states, here’s what they wrote…
First, international travel. During college Lydia studied abroad in Europe and Taylor spend the summers serving in Asia, Europe and Central America. This broadened our perspective of the world. We learned to appreciate different languages and cultures. Second, during the summer 2013 we completed a Cross Cultural Mission Practicum with Beeson in London. This class set a fire in our hearts for cross-cultural churches in major international cities. It showed us the need for evangelical churches in urban areas that are filled with numerous different cultures and people groups who are trying to live and work together. Finally, we realized that remaining in the southern part of the United States was just not for us. We did not feel called to minister in the Bible Belt. We distinctly felt God drawing us to ministry in a post-Christian environment, meaning a region or culture that despite it’s religious history has rejected the church and the Christian faith.
It is inspiring to hear young people think and talk like that. Rather than go the easy route, they have chosen one less traveled. Taylor and Lydia are spreading the Gospel in a place that is new… different… and challenging. They are learning a new language… adapting to a different culture… separated from the close support of friends and family (They thank God for Skype!). This young couple has said they probably will not live in the United States again because God has called them to international missions.
Moms & Dads! Are you willing to give up your children for the Gospel as Lydia & Taylor’s did? Are you willing to see them off to a foreign land of uncertainty and hardship and difficulty? Is the Gospel more important than seeing your children every day or week or month… or being there when your first grandchild is born? I admire and honor Taylor and Lydia’s parents for putting the Gospel before their own family desires. Indeed the Gospel means letting go as much as it does going. What are you children’s fruit from raising them AND what is it likely their children will hear from YOUR children??
Pray for Taylor and Lydia. They have left family for the Gospel. They have given up comfort and ease for the Gospel. They are perpetuating the Gospel planted in them by their parents and parent’s parents. I praise God for young people like Taylor and Lydia. Oh that God would call more to follow them AND that they would answer. Not only that, but that parents would raise their children the way Taylor and Lydia’s did… to follow God’s call wherever it may be!