Where we live, children are often viewed as a burden. Most people have only one child, largely for financial reasons, but I also believe it is just as much because of how the culture devalues motherhood and children, a sad trend that is infiltrating so many cultures. I saddens me deeply every time a mom asks me if both kids are mine, and why I don’t put my kids in daycare, implying that my life must be terribly boring if I “have to” stay home with them every day. I have even been asked blatantly why I don’t sign my kids up for the free state-run daycare so I could have more free time to enjoy myself. It breaks my heart that so many children grow up feeling un-valued. Many of our friends were such children. (Of course there are some amazing parents here as well, but I am merely talking about a prominent trend).
Another reality of where we live is that routine abortion is an acceptable form of birth control. Russia has one of the the highest abortion rates in the world. The mentality is to enjoy life, and if a pregnancy results, that’s ok because abortions are available to take care of such problems. Again, it deeply troubles my soul to see women so influenced by a fallen culture that they don’t see the wrong in terminating lives and living promiscuously. I am not mad a these women, but rather my heart breaks for them and their babies because I honestly believe they don’t understand the gravity of what they are doing. But who can I get mad at? The culture? The answer of course is Satan, the great deceiver. He has deceived this culture about the value of human life and of the human soul. He has deceived women into sacrificing one of the most amazing blessings that God gives specifically to us as women; the blessing of motherhood.
These distressing cultural realities (that I assume are probably true in many of the locations in which you live) are why the following story is all the more significant to me.
One sunny afternoon, the kids and I were heading out on a walk near our home. Both kids were laughing and playing together, and we were all just authentically enjoying life.
As we walked along, a mom pushing a one year old child in a stroller walked up to me and asked shyly, “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” “Sure!” I replied. She then went on to ask, “How many months apart are your children?” I told her that they were 21 months apart. She then hesitated for a minute and said, “How is it? Is it really hard? Do you like having two kids that are so close in age?” I didn’t realize that there was a reason behind her asking these questions, but I replied by saying, “I LOVE it! Of course it has its challenges, but my kids are such great friends because of their close age. They love to play together, they keep each other entertained… It is really wonderful and I love being the mom of two children!” She smiled and then hesitantly said, “Thank you so much… I just found out that I am pregnant and have been really scared and worried. I was trying to figure out what I should do.” Then it clicked for me. This mom was trying to figure out if she should have an abortion, and probably was feeling in her heart of hearts that she didn’t want to, but was more than likely hearing from the people around her about how “unwise” it would be to continue on with the pregnancy. I continued to encourage her about what a blessing from God children are, and to congratulate her on her pregnancy. She smiled and seemed truly relieved by the conversation. She said thank you and continued walking.
This isn’t a typical ministry or conversion story, but it opened my eyes to yet another way that our family can be a witness to those around us, this time by delighting openly in our children and speaking often about how the call to parenthood is a joyous and worthwhile one.
As we model this by our lives, we must also point clearly towards Christ and openly communicate the gospel as the source of these values and the strength to live by them. So often it seems that people who don’t appear to be seeking are suddenly much more interested when they see how practically a relationship with God makes a difference in our lives. We’ve seen this a number of times while talking with people in our community about children and parenting.
Since that conversation awhile back, I have been passionate about speaking openly and often of the blessing of motherhood, of how children are a gift from God, and how parenthood is an incredibly high calling. We are here in Russia specifically to minister to college students, but I pray also that God will use us to help save souls of mothers and fathers, as well as the lives of little babies that would otherwise be lost to abortion. I pray that God will use us to help cause mothers and fathers to value their children as He does.
How are children and parenthood viewed in your country? Have you had any unique opportunities to point towards Christ or share the gospel in regards to this issue?
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(Image courtesy of allposters.com)