Sweet moms, welcome back Brooke, a friend and missionary. Read about her work at Water, Worship and the Word.
A challenge of raising our girls for Christ, in an anti-Christ world, is how to balance their dreams that are based in this world with heavenly hopes for our children. Some say we should not encourage our children to be involved in anything of this world, like competitive sports or activities, and yet we are to be a light in those very same dark places. (Matthew 5:14-16; Acts 13:47)
I did not grow up in a Godly home and I was very competitive and involved in multiple sports and activities. I understand that most young people who pursue high level competition are searching for love, for affirmation, for recognition. Even more unfortunate are the parents who live vicariously through their children searching for the same thing!
So how do we allow our girls to participate and yet not get drawn into the same mind set? I think it all starts with directing them toward the right reason and attitude for being there. Reminding them that the purpose is not to win or to fill a need, but to be an example by enjoying the activity, by being a good sport, by being an encourager and by being the best they can be. (Psalm 37:4; Hebrews 12:1)
My daughter was involved in varied activities beginning at 5. At 8, she got on her first horse and not only fell in love, but was immediately recognized as a natural. I rode and showed horses too so I was excited to see her take to something I could relate to and even help her with.
There are many challenges in the horse world; first, it is possibly the most expensive sport out there and at this time, we were inner city missionaries. My first response could have been “We cannot afford this!” However, my husband and I had come to a realization that we should not say this to our children. We believe it depicts God as poor and unable to provide. So, our response, even now with our Grandchildren, was and is “Pray and ask God. If He wants this for you He will provide.” I cannot tell you how many times God has done exactly that, even with silly things like tickets to Disney Land or toys. (Phil 4:19)
Second, the horse world is predominantly populated by the wealthy. We did not fit in, but we saw so many who needed Jesus- young girls who based their entire worth on money, prestige and performance.
So as God began to answer my daughter’s prayers and provide in abundant ways for her to ride and show, we began to pray daily for our witness amongst these young girls and their families. Horse Sports, like most sports, are intense. We had to be at the barn every day and among the same group of people every day. When we traveled to shows, we ate, slept and basically lived with these people. It was a constant and intentional decision to not get caught up in the winning and performance but to stay true to our witness.
What we found over and over was that Love works!!
My daughter was often treated as the help, kind of like Cinderella, because she was a working student. For her to afford shows, she had to clean the other girls’ horse stalls, clean their tack and take care of their horses in addition to her own horse and classes. However, in the midst of some meanness, we would be kind and friendly and helpful and over time walls fell away and many of the girls came to like and even trust us. This allowed us to speak about Jesus and to share His love with young girls who were hurting and unhappy with a life that many envied. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Did we face challenges to keep the right perspective? Certainly! After all, winning is fun and feels good. However, even when we were weak, God was strong to come in and turn things around and work it all out. As I look back, I see what Paul meant when he said that we are not of this world but we are in this world. We are called to be light, to be salt, to bring hope and healing and what a great place to do this. Competitive sports bring out the best and worst in people of all ages and beliefs. I know God put us there to be His voice, hands and feet for the good news! So when your child has dreams consider all the possibilities for good and let the Lord lead them and you. Remember, our mission field is right in front of us and our children can be powerfully used of God if we will allow it and trust Him!! Dream Away!!
Dear friends, Brooke’s daughter is now a missionary in Honduras at Rancho Oasis in Honduras. She and her husband work with youth and parents there teaching everything from healthy living and soccer to horse riding and English as ways to share the hope of Jesus. Read about their work here.