Sometimes moms do not ask for this role. They don’t ask or even want to be stay at home moms. Other times, moms may feel that home and children is their calling. They feel it is their life work to focus on caring for their children and home. What about being called to do more than the role of ‘mom’. What about balancing life as mom and missionary?
There is missionary work in being a mom. You encourage, lead, and pray for your child. But what if you feel another calling at the same time?
What if being a stay-at-home mom needs to work with wearing another hat as well?
When the missionary field calls, moms can answer. Families serving together only shares God’s great message even more.
A friend of mine is answering this call. She, her husband, and their three children are preparing to answer the call to be missionaries to Japan.
I met Kat through my MOPS group in San Diego. We were the only two moms to attend our first table playdate, and that allowed us to really learn about each other. I still remember that playground meet up and how much I felt God led Kat and I together.
Her story is one of a mom who truly puts God’s calling for her life at her focus. She leads with faith, and it is inspiring.
Kat and I are both moms of twins. We both feel called to share God’s message outside of our roles as moms, but in different ways. Maybe you are home with your kids right now wondering how to answer God’s call to attempt balancing life as a mom and missionary. Maybe you are looking to learn what helps other moms find joy in the challenges of being a mom.
Either way, Kat’s message is inspiring and will give you the ability to refocus on what matters each day. We can all do something in our current season of life to further God’s calling on all of our lives. Meet my friend Kat in this interview. Take what applies to your season of life. All moms have common ground that overlaps our experiences.
Balancing Life as a Mom and Missionary: Interview Style
Kat, tell us how you became a stay-at-home mom?
My husband and I talked and planned for it way before our first children were born. We strongly believe that we want to be the biggest influence in the development of our children in their early years. For us, this meant one of us would be a stay-at-home parent.
To prepare for this, we practiced living off of one income and removing any debt that would require us to have a double income. Although we manage a tight budget and at times it is very difficult, we are so blessed that we are able to be more hands-on with our children at this stage of their lives.
Before having children, did you visualize or pray for a certain situation for raising your children?
I think like many parents-to-be, we talked about how we would raise our children together.
Having lived in Japan for a year, and learning about the Japanese family, we were always impressed with some of the values the Japanese culture uses in raising children. Some of those things includes emphasizing playtime and creativity, especially in the younger years.
We wanted our children to have an awareness of other cultures and not be mono-centric in their view of the world. So, giving our children the opportunity to live in another country and culture was something we discussed.
Most of all, we wanted our children to have every opportunity to know Jesus and to have a prayer life with him. We wanted them to know that Mommy and Daddy are always there for them, but Jesus is there too!
How did you and your husband meet?
I don’t know if it exists still, but we actually met through an online dating website. It was kind of embarrassing to share that before, but I guess now-a-days it is fairly common.
My husband says that meeting online was great because it allowed us to more quickly see the values of the other person. In a way, it also gave us some great things to talk about early on.
For our first date he took me to Disneyland. It was a good sign that we didn’t get bored with each other and we haven’t looked back since!
Has faith and sharing the hope of Jesus always been a part of your life and marriage?
My husband always shares with others that our faith and sharing the hope of Jesus is what makes our relationship strong. I agree. Otherwise, we are too opposite! But when we serve the Lord together, our differences really complement each other.
The other wonderful thing about our faith is that when we don’t agree on things, we know we have the Lord to direct our hearts. We know that it’s not what we want individually that matters, but what does God want? And so, yes, our faith is the foundation of our relationship.
Who was led to missionary work first, you or your husband?
It was my husband for sure. What many people don’t see about my husband is his never-ending imagination.
Shortly after getting married, He had this vision of using creative arts for ministry in Japan. He saw how much the Japanese culture embraces the arts (and cute things). He connected this with our gifts in creative arts. (He’s an illustrator of Hula Friends and I teach hula to Christian music.)
He believed that we truly could make an impact to a country that is less than 1% Christian and the 2nd largest unreached people group in the world.
What is involved in the process of becoming a missionary?
Having interacted with missionaries from other groups, we’ve learned that this process can be very different depending on the organization.
We are TEAM.org missionary appointees and the process was very extensive. It actually took us at least six months to complete the application process.
It included answering detailed questions about our faith, testimonies and vision for ministry. It included a number of interviews and providing a ton of personal and professional references. We also needed to take a five hour psychological test to make sure we can handle the rigors of living and serving in a culture that is not our own.
Once we were approved, we had to travel to Chicago for a week-long orientation and complete a 12-week training in support raising. We’ll be required to have another week-long training when we are closer to leaving for Japan.
We also have to complete four Bible courses to ensure that we have a solid theological foundation in Christianity. This is the process side of things.
However, God knows each person’s heart and spiritual gifts and it’s important to know that to be a missionary it requires a lot of prayer, support from others, and one’s church. You have to have a strong passion for serving the Lord when the road ahead is very unclear – you have to really trust in the Lord.
Doing missions work in another country may not be where God wants all of us, but if you do decide to take that step, we know God is faithful. I sometimes think being a missionary is like bungee cord jumping. If that sounds appealing to you, then you might be a good fit to be a missionary in another country.
Where will you be specifically serving and in what ways?
We will be working with the Tokyo Metro Ministry Initiative (TMMI). It is located in Oyama, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo. Through TMMI, we will help establish innovative churches that bring Christ to the least-reached communities of Japan’s largest metropolis. Some of its current ministries include a café, church, English classes, university ministries and visits to orphanages. We will be incorporating creative arts into these programs.
We also have a vision to work with Japanese pastors and other missionaries to develop fun and engaging faith-based children’s books that embrace the Japanese culture, especially for the 4-14 age range. There is a lack of this type of content, yet we believe it is one of the biggest ways for families to come to know Christ.
By year three, we want to begin to equip churches outside of TMMI in developing their own creative arts ministries by running a mobile creative arts program. Using the content from the children’s books, we will partner in developing creative community outreach events for children of all ages, such as hosting painting classes and dance workshops.
Our long-term prayer is to open several faith-based creative arts centers throughout Japan. It will be a family-friendly place people will come to not only learn the creative arts, but also be inspired by the gospel. It will be a resource for churches that don’t have their own creative arts ministry and it will also be used as a platform to bring artists from around the world to share their gifts in the creative arts and give their testimony as a Christian.
How do you see your children accompanying you on this journey of service?
Early on in our journey to be missionaries to Japan, someone commented how our testimony as a family was going to be a great statement of faith. This casual comment really struck us really insightful.
Although my husband and I have the goal of doing ministry together, we know that as a family unit, how we love one another and give grace to each other, is very important. Our children play a big role in this.
Some days we struggle because we don’t seem to be getting as many support letters out or engaging in ministry at our local church, but then we are reminded that raising our children in the Lord is where God wants us to focus – especially now. Because when we do arrive in Japan, we arrive as a family, not just my husband and I.
Right now, what can other mothers take away from your story juggling the tasks of a mom, a wife, a child of God and now a missionary?
I think we often get caught up in what used to be or what we hope will be. But if you take a deep breath and clear your mind, you will know that you are exactly where God wants you to be.
I have to remind myself of this daily – if not hourly.
There is a sermon I heard once that talked about our role as a Christian mom, brother, son, daughter, etc… There are many things you do, but there is a percentage of things that only you can do.
Only I can be the mom to my children.
Only I can be the wife to my husband.
So knowing this will help you set your priorities.
In addition, don’t think of ministry and family as a balancing act. Your family is ministry. You need to hear where God wants you to put your energy. This ties into what I mentioned earlier, that raising my children to know Jesus and to love my husband is part of the process of preparing to be missionaries to Japan.
In your life, try to recognize the season God has placed you. Once you do, love and embrace it.
Lastly, don’t neglect your prayer life. If there is one thing that will make being a mom that juggles many things harder is not spending time with the Lord.
Make it a priority. You may have a big tank, but even the biggest tank needs to be filled up with gas in order for the engine to work.
Your prayer life with God is your fuel.
When I have moments of pure exhaustion and frankly times of breaking down, because of my prayer life, I know I can give it up to God and it will be okay.
Do you see this as your life’s work for a long time? Where is God leading you in this?
As I mentioned earlier, my husband’s mind is overly creative and God has given him a ministry vision for Japan that stretches over many years.
I can see us happily serving God in Japan there a long time. But, no one knows God’s plans. That’s why it is important for my husband and me to have a strong prayer life. Without it, we may not clearly hear if God is calling us to a different ministry.
Five years ago I wouldn’t have imagined I would be the mom to twins. But here I am today with now three children and blessed beyond description.
If moms out there want more information about living out the call to be missionaries where can they go for more information and support?
I would recommend checking out the website for our mission’s organization, www.team.org.
There is a rich amount of content there to inspire and encourage you. You can see all the different places that the Lord is calling Christians to serve and how they can serve. There is also a link to missionary stories and blogs that will truly give you a picture of how God uses each of us for His glory and how you can support missionaries in the field.
What can the readers do to support your family’s missionary work right now?
There are several requests.
1)Please pray for our journey and the country of Japan. Japan is one of the toughest places to share the gospel due to many factors such as language, deep-rooted traditions in false idols, aging Christian churches, and logistics. The spiritual attacks we have experienced are real and sometimes frightening.
We know this is where God is calling us and we realize that’s why the enemy is trying so hard to stop our progress. Please pray for protection from the enemy’s lies and schemes.
2)Please also pray that God brings others to walk with us on this journey and will be open to support this ministry financially.
Statistically, they say it can take between 2-3 years to raise the support needed before being approved to move to the field. We are at about 17%, so we still have a ways to go.
- Go to the TEAM website.
- Click on the Give link at the top of the homepage.
- Search for missionaries Burton & Kathryn Sue (Missionaries 011026).
We are also encouraged when someone takes the journey with us by following our Facebook page Butterfly Project Japan. We try to share often how God is working in the lives of the people we work with and we pray that these stories bless others.
Finally, TEAM.org wrote a great blog on this topic. There are awesome ideas on how readers can support any missionary in their season of ministry. Check out Ways to Support Missionaries.
Thank you so much for reading Kat’s story and considering sharing in their work by donating to their mission fund.
Have you been in the mission field or tried balancing a calling in addition to motherhood? What were your best ways to seek balance and joy in this season of life?
Enjoy your time at home!
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