Continuing from the home life of Herbert and Ruth Grings, I want to draw out the details of this ten year period, as well as other points, so we can apply them to our homes.
Principles that Mold Missionary Children
The Word of God
As I interviewed Sister Louise about home life on the mission field, Old Faithful, the Bible, took the lead. Their lives were filled with the Bible. They learned to read with the Bible. They memorized five verses each week
(5 verses x 52 weeks x 15 years = 3750 verses). If you count thirty verses for a chapter, that is 125 chapters in the Word. The children read through the Bible every year in their personal devotional time. Father and Mother taught them the Bible during family times of worship, and last, but not least, they all began teaching the Bible at a young age. They were all missionaries. Wow, look at all of the input these children received from God as they were growing. They were truly “Planted by the rivers of water,” Ps. 1, from the beginning. “From a child, they knew the Holy Scriptures.” II Tim 3:15.
The Children were Missionaries
The call to missions was a family call. When the counsel came to bring the children back to the states, the children rose up and said, “We are missionaries—we can not go to the States.” There are many missionary children who are disconnected from the burden and vision of the lost. Mom and Dad are missionaries, and they are just the children. Wise parents will engage the children in the work, so they can catch the vision and purpose of God for their lives. This is a most powerful principle. I am sure there were many flats spots in the home life of these itinerate missionaries; however, because they involved the children in the work, this carried them through many a failure. Children who are active in the work of souls, are co-laboring with the Holy Spirit, and He is addictive. Daddy Grings’ children were immersed in the fishing business from an early age. I know this is one of the major reasons they are all missionaries today.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer played an important part in the molding of these children. They were encouraged to pray in their personal devotion time each day. There were prayer times for the many needs around them continually, and Father set one day each month as prayer and fasting day for everyone. During this day of solitude, the labors of the month were evaluated, seasons of specific prayer followed these evaluations, and then they all sought God for direction for the coming month. These kinds of activities have to have an effect on the next generation of missionaries. Then to top all of this prayer off, Herbert prayed for his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren every day. This went on for many years. I am sure his prayers are still chasing after his family today.
We Learned to Obey
These are the words that Louise used, when I asked her about discipline and authority. The rod was used as the Bible directs us, but it was not needed very much, because the children learned, “We must obey the words of our parents.”
The family lived in dozens of different houses during the ten years of itinerate work. There was no security drawn from the place where they lived. They never knew where they would lay their head next. Even though they were on the move a lot, there was a spirit of love that flowed among them. This is where true security comes from. We are often tempted to think it comes from an exterior environment, but we are wrong.
We Sang Day and Night
Hundreds of songs and hymns were memorized, and then they sang them from their heart, in the midst of all kinds of trying circumstances. We have a singing religion, and you cannot measure the silent influence this singing has upon the forming mind and heart. Besides, they were on the front lines of the battlefield, and singing is part of the strategies that bring victory.
Chores Build Character
This is true the world around. It does not matter if they are farm chores, family business chores, or missionary chores; they all work the same kind of inner character. What do I mean by missionary chores? They had to maintain the village life of their missionary father, and there is a lot of labor involved in village life. They washed clothes by the river with washboards, carried water for eating and drinking, and many other village life tasks. They cared for animals so they would have some protein to eat. They carried wood for the fire to heat the water to wash the dishes. I know that many would look on and cry out, “Those poor children!” but wait a minute. Remember, they were missionaries, and nothing else mattered.
Suffering and Sickness
I have said it many times that missionary experience is the closest thing to a persecution experience because of the suffering they endure. The hardships of bush life are endless. A cut takes three times as long to heal, you sweat all the time, and there are many sleepless nights because of the heat. Sickness is a way of life for a missionary. I asked Louise about sickness. She said there was always someone who was sick. They knew the fevers of malaria back in the days when there were no preventatives. They were constantly dealing with dysentery, parasites, and who knows how many other “-ites.” There were bug bites, snake bites, and scorpion bites to live with. These children suffered for the sake of the call, and this molded them into soldiers of Jesus Christ.
They Developed Compassion
The Grings children grew up in the midst of a hurting, neglected, dying people. They saw suffering everywhere. This has a beautiful yet silent effect upon the inner man. Father and Mother guided their thoughts toward compassion, and it is in them to this day.
When God orders experiences of self-denial for children, He uses them to teach them to give up their will. It is very important for parents to know this so they can labor together with God for the children. Missionary life provides many everyday lessons in self-denial. The food is very simple with not much variety. The people live way below what we would call poverty level, and therefore so do the missionaries and their children. This has to have a tremendous effect upon the children. I have noted in most of the previous “Home Histories” that poverty was usually there to mold them. With missionaries it is more akin to voluntary poverty for the sake of the Gospel, but it still has the same effect on the next generation. If the parents will guide the child’s heart through these things, it will make a soldier out of them.
The Missionaries’ God
Our God is a living God, however, many children grow up learning about God, but never seeing Him actively working in their lives. To the Grings children, God was an ever-present help, and they had experienced Him many times. They sensed His presence when hostile natives with spears and bows greeted them. They saw Him bring a ship to rescue them fifteen minutes before a storm came to blow them away. They watched their heavenly Father provide for them when they were hungry. Many people do not go to the mission field because of fear and unbelief. It is hard for them to trust God in the difficult times. These children learned firsthand that God is always watching and caring for His servants.
There is much more that should be written on this subject. Child training from a missionary perspective is full of training thoughts. Because I know how missionaries live, I could write several more points. Nevertheless, I want to stay with the points that Louise gave to me. The whole missionary experience, if entered into with an open, positive, and purposeful attitude, can be an exciting training ground for godly children. I want to be realistic also. It is much more difficult to order your priorities and home while on a mission field. There are many hardships to overcome, and many have lost the next generation while reaching the lost. I think the attitude of the heart is the most important element for the parents. Only God knows how many more of Herbert and Ruth Grings’ descendants will serve Him on the mission fields of the world. As I evaluate the heart of the ones that I know, it seems to me there are yet more to come. Great-great grandchildren shall rise up and say, “I hear the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’”
Here am I Lord. Send me.Taken from "The Heartbeat of the Remnant"