I’d like to introduce you all to Ann Dunagan, our newest contributor here at Visionary Womanhood. Her passion is missions, and you will find her and her lovely family to be an inspiration for your souls.
Be sure to read all the way down! Ann is giving away free copies of her two fabulous books for families! Read my review of The Mission Minded Family and The Mission Minded Child to find out more!
I’m excited and honored that Natalie has invited me to write for you at Visionary Womanhood and to encourage you and your family. My heart is glorify God, and to see His love extend to the ends of the earth.
I grew up in a wonderful Christian home, and surrendered my life to Jesus as a little girl. When I was eight-years-old, I had a special prayer time all by myself, out in the woods at a family camp. During this quiet time, the Lord “spoke” to my heart through a few Bible verses that practically “jumped off the page” of my children’s Bible and into my heart. Through Jeremiah 1:4-8, I felt like the Lord “called” me to world missions, and gave me a desire to share His love with others.
Right out of high school, I met a handsome young man, who came to speak at our youth group about “Daring to be Different” and “Living a Life of No-Compromise” which was a message that changed my life (in more ways than one!!!). Two years later, we were married (at the mature ages of 19 and 20, which seems even younger now that we have kids at those ages!!!), and immediately after college and Bible school, we stepped-out into full-time evangelism, founding an international missions outreach in 1987, called Harvest Ministry.
God has blessed our family with seven children (currently ages 11 to 25, all homeschooled K-12, with four high school grads and three college grads so far). We’ve always lived in the United States, but God has given our entire family a fervent heart for the world. Over the years, we’ve collectively ministered and traveled to over 70 nations all across the globe, and to all seven continents (including Antarctica). We especially have a heart to share the Gospel in unreached areas, and in areas that are “ripe” for harvest (which is often just after war-times, or in national times of transition and unrest).
For over 25 years, our family has totally trusted God for His safety, His complete provision, and His direction . . . and it’s been a blast. We’ve helped to pioneer several hundred churches in remote areas (currently we’re directly overseeing 450 village pastors), and we’ve established three orphanage ministries (currently fully providing for over 700 orphan children in East Africa and in S.E. India).
After 21 years in the homeschooling movement, our family has seen all kinds of trends and passions come to the surface; and I have personally sensed a longing and a desire to bring a world-missions perspective to Christian families.
One of my favorite quotes, by Hudson Taylor (a missionary to China) says, “The Great Commission is not an option to consider; it is a command to obey.” And something we say is, “Missions is not just for missionaries; God’s call is for all.”
As Christian families, we need to guard against being overly comfortable and “safe” in the security of our own salvation. God has called us to be His light in this dark world, and we’re called to share His salvation with the lost.
Okay. That’s enough for now. I do want to share a little encouragement about Christmas, and how to bring a mission-mindset into your home.
At the end of the article, I have a simple question for your response, and I’m going to be offering a FREE set of my books (The Mission-Minded Child and The Mission-Minded Family) in a random drawing.
Remembering God’s Home at Christmastime
Jesus surrendered everything when He came to earth and as He went to the cross. As families, we too need to surrender our lives and our families to Him — not in a bad way, sacrificing our children on the altar of missions, but in a good way, surrendering our preferences and dreams to God, for His will to be done, and His kingdom to come.
We all know the clichés, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and “Wise men still seek Him”; but have you and your family ever considered your willingness to surrender to God’s mission-minded purpose for Christmas, in every nitty-gritty area?
Focusing on GOD’S HOME!
“I’ll be Home for Christmas” is an awesome song, with a heart-tugging theme. With four of our children now “grown-up” and living on their own, it’s a momma-dream I can relate to . . . sprinkled with annual hopes and anticipation. Christmas-at-home brings to mind favorite traditions, thoughts of yummy delicacies, memories of siblings laughing together and playing games, and of course, snow and mistletoe.
However, as a surrendered mission-minded believer, I’ve come to understand that my lovely “Home-Sweet-Home” Christmas-dream isn’t necessarily a guaranteed “momma-right” I should expect or think I “deserve.”
So, here’s a question to stir some thoughts about surrendering every area to the Lord: Where is your family going to spend Christmas this year . . . and how do you feel about that decision?
For many families, where to spend Christmas is at best, a yearly dilemma; for others, it’s an all-out annual battle, with heated discussions and terribly hurt feelings.
Quite a while back, an informal “counseling” question with a newlywed bride turned into a delightful yet passionate discussion about world missions and family life. This God-loving friend and her new husband were having a common early-marriage struggle about where to spend their first Christmas. Since they were already living near his family and relatives, wasn’t it “right” that they celebrate Christmastime with her family?
As I talked with my newlywed friend, and encouraged her to surrender her “rights” and expectations to God, I shared this inspiring true-life Christmas story about a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators:
I’ll be Home for Christmas?
It was only a few days before Christmas as Bernie May, a pilot for Wycliffe Bible Translators successfully delivered emergency medical supplies to the isolated Amazon village. Now he eagerly anticipated being back with his wife and children in their South American home-away-from-home. Yet as the evening grew dark, he knew he would not be able to fly out until the morning.
With his pontoon plane waiting on the river, Bernie arranged for temporary protection for the night. But then . . . it began to rain. The rain continued, even up until Christmas Eve, the missionary felt increasingly depressed by his misfortune. His wife, Nancy, and their boys were six hours away; and by this time, they would have received his radio message: he would not be home for Christmas.
As a family, they had prepared their hearts to be separated from their loved ones and friends, but it was Christmas Eve . . . and they were now separated even from each other.
Back in Pennsylvania, everyone would be coming home from church-to the sounds of caroling, the smell of roasting turkey, and the sight of falling snow. But where was God’s missionary? Here he was . . . stuck in a remote jungle . . . in a makeshift shelter . . . in the pouring rain . . . alone.
In Ruth Tucker’s book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Bernie May tells of his experience:
“Oh God,” I moaned, “I’m in the wrong place.” . . . But that night, under my mosquito net, I had a visitation from God-something like those shepherds must have had on the hills of Bethlehem.
There were no angels, and no bright lights. But as I lay there in my hammock, desperately homesick, I felt I heard God say, “My son, this is what Christmas is all about. Jesus left heaven and on Christmas morning He woke up in the ‘wrong place’-a stable in Bethlehem. Christmas means leaving home, not going home. My only begotten Son did not come home for Christmas–He left home to be with you.”
(Excerpted from The Mission-Minded Family: Releasing Your Family to God’s Destiny, by Ann Dunagan– Click here for a FREE Sample)
Christmas, and everything about Bible-believing Christianity, is all about God and His Greatness (including His Great Commandment — to love God and love others: Matthew 22:36-40, and His Great Commission — to go into all the world to share God’s love with others: Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15).
As your family decides where to spend Christmas this year, remember to keep the big picture in your heart. Christmas is not just about our home, our family, and our “rights.” The true meaning of Christmas centers on the reality of GOD’S HOME in heaven (because that’s why Jesus came), loving people into GOD’S family, and surrendering our “rights” to GOD, so others can know Him too!
Mission-Minded Christmas Give-Away!!!
FREE drawing for my Mission-Minded book set: The Mission-Minded Child & The Mission-Minded Family.
How to enter: Pick your favorite missionary quote from this 100 missions-motto page, and paste it here, as a comment. Also, for extra submissions, you can link this article to your facebook, twitter, or blog, and each link will give you an extra entry (up to four entries per person, just submit each link as a separate comment).
One winner will be randomly selected and announced on December 12th.
As we celebrate our Lord’s birth, may God bless you with a Mission-Minded Christmas. I look forward to getting to know you more.
In His Love and Service,