Souls Unseen

Hope: Baby Hands and Feet by Laura Monahan

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?

*****This post was written for the “blog carnival.” Click here if you would like to join in on sharing about what God is doing around the world.*****

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6 Responses to “Souls Unseen”

  1. 1 Joelle March 23, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Hi, I came over here from UBP and I’m glad I found this blog. I’m going to follow it even though I don’t have kids yet. My husband and I are supposed to go as missionaries to an island in the Caribbean and that’s probably where we’ll have kids. It will be good to read about what it’s like to raise kids in a different culture since that’s something I wonder about. Thanks!

  2. 2 Gina Marie March 23, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    What a great opportunity to encourage that woman! I have many stories from friends in East Asia that are similar. Here in Singapore, the mighty dollar is king, and in the pressure to maintain a certain standard of living, I’m afraid children are often seen as a burden or a nuisance. For awhile Singapore encouraged people to have fewer children. Then the pendulum swung, and now there are monetary incentives to have more children. So people generally have 1-3 children, but all day school starts at age 2, and up until then many children are cared for by live in maids. It makes those of us who homeschool look like crazy women!

  3. 3 Richelle Wright March 24, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Here, in W. Africa, children are seen as an asset. The fact that we have 8 gives us something in common with many of our friends and neighbors and we get teased about being more African than than most of them. However, children aren’t valued in and of themselves until they can be productive and help with the family’s survival.

    One of my friends had a little girl right at the time one of our children was born. At about a year old, she became ill with menengitis and cerebral malaria at the same time; the resulting brain damage left her with hydrocephaly and requiring surgery or certain death. Most people counseled her to allow the child to die without medical treatment because she would never be anything but a burden on her family… I think she came to our family because she knew we’d give her different counsel, and we were able to put her in touch with the people who could help her (including the only neurosugeon in the country, who also loves Jesus). The little girl is handicapped, but she brings joy to her family every day, and she is slowly gaining skills. She can sit, say a few words (including “my mama” which always brings a huge smile to her mother’s face). I don’t think she regrets her decision to value her child, her child’s life…

  4. 4 alatvala March 28, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Richelle, I love that story. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you also for sharing how children are viewed in your country. It is interesting to see another perspective that is so different, yet where Christ and a Biblical value on children is still so desperately needed. That is really cool that your family fits so well into the cultural norm for family size! We only have 2 so far and are already seen as having an unusually large family!

  5. 5 Ashley L. January 28, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    It has been a long time since I wrote this story, but for those of you who come across it, I wanted to share with you that I ran into the same woman about 7 months or so after that conversation and she was largely pregnant and glowing! It was the day before we moved away from that city, and I praise God for giving me the joy of seeing the end of the story just before we left. Praise be to God!

  1. 1 A Special Praise « Missionary Moms Trackback on June 22, 2009 at 12:32 am

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