Lifelong, happy relationships and a strong family – who wouldn’t want that?
This dream that lives within each of us can become a reality, but it won’t happen by accident. That which is worthwhile needs to be planted, nourished, cared for, and defended. God’s design for the family is that it would be a safe and secure environment in which our children may grow up and develop in a healthy way, learning the values upon which they will build their future.
The family is the smallest cell of society, so producing healthy families will produce a healthier society. As “families in ministry,” we are a part of our society and have both the opportunity and the mandate to live out our marriage and raise our children in the context of society. However, families are in crisis all over the world today and, unfortunately, that includes families in ministry.
When we joined YWAM twenty years ago as a young family, we were under the illusion that life in a Christian community would somehow protect us from family crises. Today we know that this is not the case. Even though we are active in ministry for the Kingdom of God, becoming and staying a strong family does not happen automatically. As Christians, we’re not immune to the difficulties facing families today and our “different” lifestyle brings with it some challenges of its own. Whoever is aggressively advancing the Kingdom of God is on the spiritual frontline. It’s not just about defending who we are and what we have, it’s also about defining those differences and being a positive influence right where we are.
The question is, what do we want to achieve? How do we need to live our daily lives so that our dreams will become reality? What do our children need to learn and experience? What is the cost of all this? The biblical principle of sowing and reaping also applies to marriages and families – we reap what we sow.
Over the years, we have had numerous opportunities to ask other families involved in ministry about their experiences, both positive and negative. It was grappling with their answers, as well as the impact of a long-term study conducted by Dr. Nick Stinnett (“Characteristics of a Strong Family”), that initially led us to develop a course for families in our YWAM Hainichen community. All of the participants benefited from sharing with others about the various opportunities and challenges they faced as families in ministry. Then friends from various churches and organizations began asking if we could make the information we had gathered and the things we had learned from our own and others’ experiences available to them. This book, dedicated to the development of strong families, is the result. It may also be used as a course handbook, in order to create and inspire fruitful dialogue and sharing between families.
Each of the eight units represents a “trouble spot” that we have identified during our two decades living in a Christian community as a family in ministry. Besides thematic input and guidelines for spouse dialogue, we also provide practical tips for application at home, as well as suggested resources for further study. When using this material as a course handbook, the suggestions for group discussion are particularly valuable.
Between the units, we have provided testimonies and reports from people all over the world who are currently living (or have previously lived) in families in ministry. These mothers, fathers, and adults who grew up in families in ministry, relate from personal experience the blessings and challenges of living as a part of a family in ministry – the things they are grateful for and the things they might do differently today if they had the opportunity to relive a particular phase of their lives. Our desire is that this book will help you to be a strong family in ministry. We hope it will encourage you to live well together and enjoy family life, as well as to be signs of hope in a world that needs godly role models.
Andreas and Angela Frész, authors of “Families in Ministry”