I don’t think anyone would deny that the world around us is changing fast. And while that’s always been the case, it certainly seems to be changing at a pace that’s hard to keep up.
As an adult, it’s hard enough to navigate the world at large. The amount of information that passes through our minds on a daily basis. The amount of opinions. The amount of “truth” and feelings that are thrown in our faces and down our throats.
I know I’m not the only one that longs for more simplicity. Less division.
And yet, there’s this place deep inside of me, this place where I long to make a difference in the world. This place where I recognize the world’s deep need for Jesus and want to be part of sharing Him, even when it’s hard and scary and not so safe.
There’s a hidden place where I’ve shared with God this desire. And all the questions of how to do that. This quiet place of knowing that He is what the world needs and wondering how in the world to go about it, especially when I’m so small, and the deep dark problems of the world are so big.
And not just for me, but my family too. My husband and I. Our kids.
When I saw Kristen Welch was looking for some pre-readers for her new book, Raising World Changers in a Changing World, I had to be part of it. I had just finished reading Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World which was an amazing and timely read, but this new one? Wowza.
For me, reading this book was a match made in heaven. She asks some of the same questions I’ve been taking to God in the hidden places, but provides a lot of practical answers because of the life that the Welch family lives themselves.
I’ve long admired Kristen’s family. They started Mercy House in 2010, an organization that seeks to empower women around the world in the name of Jesus by supporting them through fair-trade partnerships, discipleship programs, and the support of teenage mothers in their maternity home in Kenya. They now have a fair-trade marketplace as well as a monthly subscription basket called Fair-Trade Friday where you can support women around the world by buying their goods each month. If I lived in Texas, I’d be having a birthday party there. Kristen’s writing on her blog, We are That Family, challenges me all the time because it makes me realize again and again that life is not about me.
Raising World Changers in a Changing World is simply about putting others first. It’s about recognizing the world we live in as Americans isn’t the world that most people experience. It’s about generosity, learning to give our lives away freely and joyfully. It’s about realizing that the world needs Jesus. And who greater to share Him with the world than those who love Him and know Him. It’s about helping our children learn these truths and how to give of our lives freely and generously.
Kristen says, “It’s about living sacrificially in front of our kids and accepting the hard truth Jesus teaches: our abundance isn’t for us to keep. It is to be given away. When we follow Jesus in this way, we discover the unfathomable satisfaction, soul-quenching purpose, and unparalleled contentment that comes when we give our life away.”
I’m past the point of wanting my kids to be happy. Sure, I want good things for them in this life. But I want them to know that life is not about them. It’s about giving because He first gave to us, loving because He first loved us. While I’ve struggled to put to words these feelings in my heart about how I want to raise my kids, Kristen is masterfully able to explain it because it’s the life she and her husband live. Kristen writes, “Perhaps the most powerful lesson we teach our children is that their unique places and positions in life are not for their convenience; they are for God’s glory.” Let that sink in for a minute.
Kristen offers perspectives from her own children, who have seen and served and struggled and had their hearts broken for others in real ways. What I love about this book is that Kristen tells the honest struggles of their family as they give their lives away day in and day out. She doesn’t describe their life in a picture perfect way, pretending it’s easy or without incredible sacrifice. But she does tell their story in such a way that encourages us to be the hands and feet of Jesus, giving our lives away, even when it’s hard and “inconvenient.”
Kristen says, “Jesus is the greatest giver of all. He became the ultimate gift. Isn’t seeing our kids discover who Christ is our greatest desire as parents? Our world is changing faster than we can blink, not because we are discovering better ways to live but because people are searching for and seeking purpose. Our culture is looking for satisfaction, and we will try just about anything and turn everything on its end to find it.”
Our kids need to know Who they belong to as they navigate this world. They need to understand what the world is seeking, they carry inside of them when the Holy Spirit inhabits their hearts. I want them to recognize the power they have to serve and to love others. I don’t always know how to do that if I’m being honest. And part of me shies away knowing the trials that will come. But reading this book sparked a new fire in me to lay down my life in surrender again and again.
While this book is a powerful and encouraging read, it’s also a difficult read. Simply because it might keep you up at night, asking yourself some hard questions. It’s not easy to do that, but it’s needed. We should all be asking them. “Changing the world” shouldn’t be some feel-good notion that we raise our fists to with words if we don’t follow up with action. Because if we want to be part of it, it will cost us.
We also have to ask ourselves this: how can we raise world changers if we ourselves aren’t wiling to change? I think most of us fall prey to what Kristen says. “Perhaps one of the biggest deceptions we believe is that what we have isn’t enough to meet the overwhelming needs in the world, so maybe we should do nothing.”
She goes on to say:
We are where we are for a reason. We are called to give up our lives for the gospel. If we don’t lose our lives for Christ, we will lose our souls to this world. It’s not about how much we give away; it’s about what we are giving our lives for…sometimes God puts us in a place we don’t want to be because it’s the right place for Him to reveal His glory. He uses our discomfort to forge something deep within us.
I can’t even write a book review that does justice to this book. It’s encouraging. It’s heartbreaking. It causes you to search your soul. All good things. If you find yourself in a safe place of your faith, read this book. If you want your heart to break for the world, read this book. If you want to change your own life, your kids’ lives, the lives of people around you, read this book. If you want to be challenged to go deeper in your faith, read this book.
As my family continues to take steps to follow where God leads, it’s not easy. It’s never easy. I don’t think it’s supposed to ever be easy. Sometime’s I’ve doubted that the path we are taking our children on is a good one for them. And yet, I want them to swim upstream. I want our hearts broken for the world around us.
Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe it doesn’t look like selling most of what you own to travel where God leads in an RV, but I would imagine many parents reading this, question decisions based on how it affects their children. Changing the world starts with who is right in front of us.
Be encouraged by Kristen’s words:
Whatever God asks you to do, wherever you go…take your family with you—You won’t regret it. Teach them to love others. Show them how to do it. It won’t only change your life, it will change your family.
And maybe, just maybe, we can change the world together.