An interesting article on the BBC news website caught my eye. Louis van Gaal said that he has promised that at the end of the season, he will leave Manchester United because he had promised his wife he would do so. On further reading it emerges that he has also promised her 9 years ago that he would leave football. Apart from the fact that footballers and managers tend to leave their wives for football rather than the other way round, this got me thinking about our family lives and integral mission.
William Carey’s wife, Dorothy, could not adjust to life in India and Carey was so taken up with his mission work he didn’t know what to do. As he was baptising the first Indian convert, Dorothy was confined to her room raging with madness. Carey could not cope and this led to the neglect of his sons who were not people Carey would have been proud of. He prioritised his work over his family.
After 25 years of marriage and mission work together, C.T. Studd left his wife in England whilst he went to Africa. For the last sixteen years of their marriage they spent apart. It is not reported that this harmed her in any way but certainly it is not the best modelling of the Gospel, to say the very least.
This is a further argument against the separation of words and deeds in mission. Eddie Arthur posted an excellent blog on this subject a few days ago. His argument was that most mission that claims to be integral is not because it lacks the evangelistic element of mission. I agree with Eddie; too much work that claims to be integral mission is nothing more than Christians doing social action. If you know Spanish you can read René Padilla’s excellent contribution to this debate.
However, I am also arguing that unless our lives, especially our family lives, don’t live up to our words, then, however much evangelising or social action we do, our missionary lives are not integral either.