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On reading the first few descriptive lines of Jill Richardson’s new book: Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids, Short Term Missions for Your Whole Family, I have to admit I initially questioned her sanity. She packs up her family, including a husband and 3 daughters aged 6, 10, and 12 and heads to China, so that her entire family can participate in ministry in an orphanage. Yet, as I read her initial chapters describing the motivation behind the trip, including wanting to arm her children with a better understanding of the world around them and provide them with opportunities to actively practice the teachings of the church, I found myself drawn into the remainder of the book and even considering the possibility of a mission trip for my own family.
Richardson informs us that 75% of children will leave the church in which they were raised upon leaving home. She recognizes that her children and the children of many raised in comfortable societies of the United States have two primary jobs within the church; to be educated and to be entertained. She describes these roles as passive and offers ministry as an active role that children, even young children, can utilize to take a more active role in their church. Her hope is that through ministry children can begin to see a usefulness and purpose in the church that applies to their daily living.
Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids is well written and entertaining. Richardson quickly won me over with her heart tugging accounts of discovering ministry with her family. The book is frequented with small doses of good-natured humor, and there are several wonderful and emotional personal accounts of her daughters’ experiences providing ministry for the children in the orphanage in China. I’d keep a tissue or two handy.
Even if heading off to China will all your children seems like a stretch (I know it did to me), I would highly recommend taking a look at this book. Richardson provides details on how to decide if ministry is a good option for your family and provides steps to take to find the right mission trip for you family. This book is going to be saved on my bookshelf for future reference and given how much I enjoyed Richardon’s writing style and insight I’ll be looking for more books by this author in the near future.