Honoring Our Mothers on the Mission Field This Mother's Day
Updated: May 13
We are commemorating this Mother’s Day with a special interview with four of our ministry partner mothers who are on the mission field. Whether you are a mother yourself or play a motherly role in the lives of others, be encouraged as you read about these wonderful women!
The Working Moms
Alison Taylor, together with her husband, Christian, work directly in training indigenous pastors, evangelists, church planters, children’s workers, and missionary leaders into the villages of Cambodia. They have three boys of their own and two Cambodian boys whom they have adopted.
"Many times, people think that mothers on the mission field are just that, mothers and wives only," Alison shares. "Mothers and wives are so much more than that. They themselves are missionaries too. Husbands and wives along with their children, are a missionary family. It is not a one-person job. The whole family works together, as a team."
So, while most days are comprised of rather typical "mom tasks," Alison's days are also filled with homeschooling their children (since other schooling options aren't available in the remote area), studying the Cambodian language, financial and administrative responsibilities for the ministry, and as an ordained minister, she assists in preaching, pastoral leadership, training, and ministering to the poor and sick.
She shared of her reliance on the Lord to help her as she balances motherhood with missions work; "It is a daily submission to Christ and obedience to His direction. He has guided me on the daily. I know that sounds basic, but the needs are different each day."
"You have to work with how your family is structured and your obligations. But, the most important thing is to put Christ first in everything. Spend time with Him daily, in His presence, and read the Word that He has given to you. He will guide you in the DAILY," she said.
Similarly, in Romania, Kyle Groza with ReGen Foundation, divides her time between motherhood and missions support work. Her days are filled with cooking, household chores, playing "taxi driver" for her daughters, and managing the accounting for the Romanian side of the foundation. When asked about some of the worries she faced when starting missions work as a mom, Kyle shared, "My biggest concern...was the difference in the medical system and the education system. Both the medical and educational systems in Romania are very different than what I was used to in the US, so it took being flexible, patient, and just trusting in the Lord that we were in the right place and that God would provide."
And provide He did! Kyle's Romanian sister-in-law and brother-in-law are in the medical field and have been able to provide support, and encouragement in this area. In addition, she shared that there have been many joys in raising children cross-culturally.
"My children have been able to travel, see different parts of the world, and meet fellow believers all over the world who have a heart for missions and seeing God’s kingdom grow. They have seen firsthand what it is like to serve the 'least of these.'"
The New Moms
Marie Shely and her husband Timo are servant-evangelists who travel to many different countries proclaiming the Good News. They baptize many, and deliver messages of repentance and hope in the jungles, on the streets, in churches, schools, and prisons. Their ministry focuses on Europe, Africa, and South America. Recently, the Lord blessed them with a new edition to the family, Jean-Baptiste.
Marie discusses her experience of motherhood, which she acknowledges is different from that of other young mothers.
When asked some concerns she had knowing she'll be constantly traveling, Marie shared, "As an expecting mother who had no home of her own, this meant that my son will not have a place he can call home either. I questioned whether he will be able to adapt to different temporary places we would call home."
Moreover, Marie was worried that as she supported her husband in their missionary endeavors, she might not have enough time and attention to devote to her son's needs. But God is so good! Wherever Timo and Marie went, their son was perfectly happy being in his kangaroo carrier fastened to his mother's chest. This close connection allowed him to explore and experience everything that they encountered along the way.
The Lord gave Marie peace about her son’s welfare wherever they went. Whether it was a question of diseases, unbearable heat, or dirt, the Lord gave her the faith to overcome these fears and challenges.
Marie shared that raising her child outside of her home country has been the most enriching experience to go through as a mother. When Jean-Baptiste was just 4 months old, Timo and Marie were scheduled to go to the Central African Republic (C.A.R).
“The amazing women in the C.A.R lived in huts, co-sleep with their babies, breastfeed up until one year of age, let the children crawl in the brown dust outside and were not afraid of having many children. Seeing the Lord provide for them opened my eyes to see that a baby doesn’t need a lot of things to be happy. I was reminded of a scripture where Jesus calls out the Pharisees for putting burdens on people they cannot carry. I believe this applies to motherhood as well - society tends to overcomplicate the expectations and guidelines surrounding it. In reality, motherhood is a big blessing and very simple once you tune out the noise of the world.
To all the new mothers reading this post, don’t be afraid of being different. God wants to do something with your life, teach you to be more like Him but, if you resist, you will not get to where God wants you to be. In my case, it was really about following my husband to places where people don’t usually want to go. Trust your motherly instinct, switch off your Instagram, unfollow mom accounts, and tune in with your reality. Make heaven where you are, even if it’s living in a small hut in Africa.
Covetousness is a sin and we make our Father so upset when we compare and envy other mothers’ lifestyle and what their children have. Instead, embrace your child playing with simple objects like wooden spoons, pieces of fabric, or plastic lids. Don't be afraid of clothing stains that stubbornly resist removal, or of little hands finding their way into curious mouths. Resist the temptation to compare your own journey with that of others, for it is a treacherous trap that will only steal away your happiness. Remember, your child needs a mother who is genuinely happy and free from unnecessary stress."
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." - James 1:2-3
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7
Practicing Motherhood Outside of the Family
Nehemiah Vision Ministries is committed to promoting Haitians to live Godly lives, work productively, and to provide for their families diligently, thus aiding to rebuild Haiti. This ministry pursues this commitment through developing leadership and economics while improving education and healthcare.
We were honored to hear from Brooke, a missionary nurse who helped the orphanage, loved on and cared for the children.
"In general, parenting isn't an easy task," said Brooke. "Children raised in the same home, family members, beliefs, all have different personalities, opinions, interests, and passions. The challenge with raising children in an orphanage is that they all come from different backgrounds and have experienced some form of loss, death, or broken situations that led them to live in a children's home. Before any "parenting" can happen, there has to be a solid foundation that is slowly built upon trust."
In a setting where there’s so much brokenness, Brooke had to lean unto the Lord and allow Him to lead, guide, and trust on His wisdom as she loved and poured into the lives of these children.
"The Lord has continually had to work in my heart to remind me that while He is using me to be the "hands and feet" in the children's lives, He is their ultimate Father."
Brooke shared that we are all broken and in need of the Lord, and watching children who come from very hard situations learn to process that brokenness, grow from it, and pursue the path the Lord has from him/her is such a joy!
It's also a delight to see the children become brothers and sisters to each other as they learn to help guide and advocate for one another, braid each other's hair or jump in to help with various tasks - watching them become a family in a way only the Lord could stitch together.
In Haiti, culturally, parenting looks very different. For many mothers, parenting is, "I wash your clothing, prepare your food, and send you to school." They do laborious work such as carrying water needed to hand wash the laundry, preparing food over a small pile of charcoal or sticks, working in the fields day in and day out, or cutting brush to be made into charcoal to sell so that they can pay their child's school fees. While all these tasks are daunting, a child needs so much more.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day activities and forget how important it is to actually sit and talk to your children. To hear from their hearts, encourage them, and show interest in their dreams and hobbies.
Many Haitian mothers are truly just trying to survive - have enough food for the day or make what they have stretch as much as possible - that the idea of "dreaming" with their kids about future goals is just nearly impossible.
"In raising children in an orphanage and building relationships with the other mothers in our church and community, one of the desires is to love them in big ways and how we can work together to support each other. Being a mom is a lot of times very isolating and when women realize they aren't alone and are part of a team, a family, it's easier to keep pushing forward," Brooke shared.
All these moms are in different stages of life, but one thing they all have in common is the reliance and need of our Savior. Whether in remote areas of the world or through the various circumstances, each mother relies on the Lord's providence and guidance daily. Who else would have a better understanding than the Lord Himself who designed motherhood?
“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” - Hosea 11:3-4
A very happy Mother’s Day from Renewing Hope International to all mothers and people who serve in maternal roles! Your unwavering care and dedication have immeasurable influence and make a significant difference in the lives of many.