21 Australian Missionary Mother Stories on Cross-Cultural Parenting and Life
From the desert to the mountains, from remote far-flung places to some of the most populated cities in the world, For The Joy brings together 21 unique perspectives on what it’s really like being a mother on the mission field.
Home schooling while living on a bus
Giving birth in a foreign hospital
Navigating the toddler years as a ‘third culture mum’
Raising a child with special needs
Recovering from anxiety on the field
The grief of losing your family to persecution
Honestly written, raw in emotion, sad and joyful in equal measure, this collection of stories offers insight in to the complexities of parenting children while serving God far from home.
2019 Shortlisted Australian Christian Book of the Year.
“Whenever I visit Bible Colleges where missionaries train, women want to know what it is like to be a mother on the mission field … this is a set of stories that need to be told.” – Evelyn Hibbert, Author of 'Leading Multicultural Teams'
“I found myself enormously challenged while reading this collection of missionary mums’ stories. I am grateful for the opportunity, through this book , to engage with my heavenly Father about my commitment to His mission to take the good news of Jesus to a lost world…no matter the risk, the hardship, the suffering, the tears. I am also thankful that I now have a much greater understanding of what the missionary mums that I regularly partner with in prayer are experiencing on the field.” – Lesley Ramsey, Editor of 'What Women Really Need'
“For the Joy is a powerful compilation of honest hearts. Be prepared to cry some, to be comforted, affirmed in your calling and challenged to continue on in the Great Commission living. I highly commend it to you.” – Robynn Bliss, Author of 'Expectations and Burnout: Women surviving the Great Commission'
Table of Contents:
Adventures in Arnhem Land
Missional Living as a Mum
Covered by Love
My Journey through Anxiety
Cracked Jars of Clay
The Most Ordinary Job in the World
Third Culture Mum
Confessions from an Imperfect Missionary Mum
No place like Home
Lost and Found
The Llama Ate My Homework
Giving Birth on the Mission Field
France Beyond the Postcards
Living with Racism
When a Seed Falls
Rabuna Saidu Tanina: God Help Us
Living in a Sensory Jungle
Raising Hunters in the Bush
The Boarding Life
ALEXIS (not her real name) and her husband have three beautiful children. Serving with OMF, they have lived in a big South-east Asian city since 2010, and delight in the chaos, community, spicy food, tropical fruits and nearby mountain forests. Alexis learns languages for fun, and gets a thrill from reading and discussing Bible stories with local women – both believers and those who have never heard it before.
CECILY DORRELL BOOTH was born of CMS missionary parents in North India, and has served as a missionary herself in Tibet, India and South-east-Asia - taking on various roles with mission organisation WEC (World Evangelisation for Christ). Cecily also has four children. She her husband, Ken, retired in 1985 and in 2003, Ken was called home to glory. Cecily is now based in Sydney in a retirement village.
DORCAS DENNESS was tremendously impressed with Jesus from a young age. She and her husband, Ian, served as missionaries in Pakistan from 1984 until 2015. They now live in Australia as the happy parents of six adult kids, five of who are married, and sixteen grandchildren. Dorcas enjoys her family, being with friends, sharing the gospel, mentoring younger Christians and bush walking.
GABRIELLE TOPPING is the caffeine-addicted wife of Mark, who is a carpenter by trade. They are the blessed (and sleep-deprived) parents to five little blondes. The family serve God amongst a Muslim area of Indonesia in partnership with Pioneers Mission Agency. Their son, Reuben, was severely injured with burns covering 25 per cent of his little body. At the time of writing this chapter, Reuben was four years old and does not have any scars on his skin as a result of his burns.
GLADYS STAINES worked as a nurse in Australia before joining Operation Mobilisation and moving to India as a missionary, where she met her Australian husband and raised three children. In 1999, her husband and two sons were killed in India. Now living in Townsville, Gladys has returned to nursing, occasionally teaches Scripture lessons at a primary school and delights in her grandchildren, while still maintaining an interest in missionary work in India.
IRENE CHAMBERLAIN taught primary school in rural Australia prior to studying at the Missionary Training College in Tasmania where she met her New Zealand husband, Neville. In 1976 they arrived in Hong Kong as missionaries and this is where they continue to reside, multiplying disciples of Jesus by providing multi-media resources and facilitating English and Chinese Bible Study groups. Their two children, Glen and Corinna, were born and raised in Hong Kong.
JESSICA THOMAS grew up in a Jewish family in Sydney. She became a follower of Jesus when she was 16 and soon began investing in Christian ministry, including gaining both a BD and an MA (theology). For seven years she worked as a Bible teacher in India, where she met and married her husband, Shine. They had two children in Australia and then moved to Thailand, where they served as faculty in a Bible college for five years. Shine and Jessica are now Country Team Leaders with Interserve in South East Asia.
JULIE SCOTT’S life is rarely boring or quiet. Married to her best friend, Marshall, and as mother of four boys, Douglas, Bill, Owen and Daniel, she has lived in three different countries and had the privilege of being in full-time Christian work for over twenty years. She thanks God that his love, grace and mercy is transforming her life, and that He patiently continues to change her.
LILING TAN struggles to answer the question “where do you come from?”, having been born in Malaysia, attended school in Australia and raised a family in Bolivia. After calling Bolivia home for fourteen years, Liling and her family have put down roots in Sydney. She now teaches science in high school and along with her family, regularly takes medical teams for short-term trips to Bolivia. In her spare time you might find her in the kitchen, pulling loaves of sourdough bread and batches of granola from the oven.
LINDA POOLE has a wonderful husband and three precious children. In July 2012, she left behind her home in Tasmania to serve the Lord in South Sudan as part of a Pioneers International missionary team. She loves chocolate, good coffee and a glass of wine with friends. Her prayer is that the Lord would continue to form her, by His creative hand, to be the woman, wife, mother and friend that shines with the joy of the Gospel.
LYNDAL WEBB is married to Ross and they have two sons, Christopher and Paul, and six grandchildren. After working as a pharmacist, she re-trained as a Bible translator and literacy worker with Wycliffe Bible Translators and began mission life with the Irumu speaking people of Papua New Guinea. In 2003, Lyndal and Ross moved to Vanuatu to oversee translation work there. Currently they are helping the Lewo, Baki and Lamen speakers of Epi Island complete their New Testament translations.
MAI (not her real name) has three children and continues to live in Asia amongst an unreached people group. Most of her mornings are spent homeschooling and working alongside her husband. She loves running, reading and bird watching. When not busy with school, Mai can be found talking with the local women in her neighbourhood and enjoying the local food.
MICHELLE (not her real name) spent her first twenty-one years of her life living in two houses, and then has spent the last ten years in sixteen homes on three different continents. All that change – along with the roller coaster ride of infertility, unexpected motherhood and cultural transitions - has taken its toll. Along with battling clinical anxiety, she now lives with her husband and two children in West Africa, serving God amongst the Fulani people.
PAULA McPhail met Jesus properly for the first time in 1998. As it turned out, He was far better than what she had assumed Him to be. Paula and her husband toured Australia full-time as part of a punk grunge band, doing evangelism in high schools, before leaving for Asia in 2007 with their two sons, Ezekiel and Ethan. Their third son, Tyler was born in 2009. In 2015, they returned home from Asia due to health problems.
PENNY REEVE has served for a number of years overseas with mission agencies, including six years with her husband, Richard, with International Nepal Fellowship. They now live with their three children in a little red brick house in western Sydney. Penny is the author of more than twenty books for children, and has a passion for communicating with children in a way that empowers them to respond to the world round them (http://www.pennyreeve.com ).
RED FULTON is mum to two daughters and one son and is married to their Dad. All five of them have become accustomed to flying around remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Australia. She thinks God’s plans are hilarious and finds mothering on the mission field a thrilling challenge.
SARAH (not her real name) grew up on the NSW south coast and became a Christian at the age of 10. She studied nursing at Wollongong University before moving to Sydney for work, where she met her husband Brian. They both attended Moore Theological College before moving to the Middle East at the beginning of 2013. They have two children. Sarah loves a good cup of tea, a chat with a friend, cooking and experimenting with new recipes.
SALLY L SWAN was surprised by God in her teen years when she suddenly grasped grace, and she has been keen to tell others the good news of Jesus ever since. She has been married to Tim for almost twenty years and is thankful for his tender heart and active mind, and for their five children (and Poppy the Puppy). The swans spent ten years in Santiago, Chile, serving alongside the Anglican Church and contributing to the foundations of a theological college, el Centro de Estudios Pastorales.
SANDRA KING and her husband Paul became missionaries in France with the Church Missionary Society, Australia in 1991. Through this mission partnership, the King family has been ministering in France for 25 years. Along with caring for her family, Sandra is involved in Bible groups at church; training students with the Groupes Bibliques Universities (GBU); and organising Bible teaching conferences for women. Sandra and Paul have two sons, born in Sydney; and a daughter born near Paris. Their children now live in Australia.
TAMIE DAVIS comes from Adelaide and lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she and her husband Arthur work with the Tanzanian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (TAFES), in partnership with CMS Australia. Since writing this chapter, Tamie has become a mum of two, with Cullum joining Elliot. She holds a M.Div. from Ridley College in Melbourne, enjoys a keen interest in the intersection between Christianity and feminism, and blogs at meetjesusatuni.com
WENDY COLVILLE works as an aged care chaplain in Sydney and also has a private practice offering professional and pastoral supervision to clergy, chaplains and case workers. Her years of living overseas, in Pakistan and Bahrain, have helped her to have a greater appreciation of some of the challenges faced by her clients and colleagues who have come to Australia from other countries. Wendy loves spending time with her husband, her grown up children, and her grandchildren.