Missionaries’ Advice for Christian Education on the Field - Radical % %

Missionaries’ Advice for Christian Education on the Field

When a missionary couple heads to the field, they not only have to learn how to reach unbelievers in a different country, but also how to help their children learn in school. Education options may look vastly different in another nation, but seasoned missionaries have advice for those beginning to explore how to educate their children while serving on the mission field:

Consider What is Most Important

Begin by asking: What do we think is most important for our children to get out of their education?

This may include learning the local language, making friends with local children, college preparation courses, and accreditation for overseas universities. Maybe you want to prioritize reading and writing in your native language and learning about the history and culture of your home country. Maybe a specifically Christian education is a priority for you.

Before you consider which schooling options are available, make a list of non-negotiable factors that you and your spouse agree on.

“It is important to us, as parents, to ensure we do everything possible to create options for our kids so they are not limited later in life by our choices,” said Joanna McClure, a missionary who serves in the Dominican Republic with her husband.

Consider Which Options Are Available

Some families may want to consider homeschooling or online options. This will allow you to be more particular about the curriculum, enabling you to prioritize the language and content you would like your kids to learn and incorporate into a biblical education.

Public schools within the community may be an option if immersion in the local culture and language is the highest priority. A couple of caveats: If you are serving in a country where Christianity is not the norm, public schools likely won’t be structured around Christian holidays, so those days may not be recognized. Public schools may also require classes studying the national religion. For example, many Middle Eastern public schools have extensive Islam studies.

Since much of your children’s life outside of the home will involve the culture you’re serving, you may want to incorporate learning about your native language and culture at home. “We made both American and local holidays a big deal,” said Cyndi Logsdon, who spent 12 years planting churches with her husband among an unreached people group. “Our girls were taught lots about the local culture and history in school, so we made sure to teach American history and culture at home. We mostly just bought piles and piles of fun books for them to read.”

You may also discover international, private, and boarding school options, which can be good for language learning and college preparation and accreditation. Just remember these options are often expensive, and may take your children away from your home and the culture you’re serving on the field.

Consider What is Best Depending on the Season

Every child is different, and parents should talk through what is best for each one. While you and your spouse may identify factors that are non-negotiable, it is important to have flexibility depending on the age, personality, and skill set of each child. Different seasons may result in different factors being prioritized.

Continue to assess your children’s emotional and spiritual health and be willing to make a shift, if that is what is best for your child.

“Our children began their education in our local church’s preschool from ages three to five,” McClure said. “This provided a good foundation of the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and writing their names, all in Spanish. After preschool, we chose a private school for our children where they would receive Bible, English, and Spanish classes for a better, well-rounded education.”

Continue to assess your children’s emotional and spiritual health and be willing to make a shift, if that is what is best for your child.

For example, Marwan and Marci Aboul-Zelof, missionaries in Lebanon, recently switched from private schooling to home-schooling because Marwan is taking a sabbatical next year. In different seasons, you will need to make different decisions. Through all the changes, your role is to ensure your children have a good foundation, both in their education and in their faith in the Lord (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6).

Ultimately, trust God that he will equip and grow your children, as you obey the Great Commission wherever he leads you to go.


Selah Vetter

Selah Vetter is a Content Writer at Radical. She is a graduate of Samford University where she studied Journalism and Spanish. She is a member of Redeemer Community Church.


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