Coffee, Collisions and Kids – My Son’s on a Mission

My son Kyle was 10 years old when he first went to a foreign mission field, a small village on the Baja Peninsula. Now he’s just back from leading a team to the other side of the world.

Repeat Appearances

After years of trips to Mexico, inner city rescue missions in San Francisco and serving in a Native American community, a friend told him about a trip overseas that his father was organizing for a church in the Bay Area. This team would be working with local churches in an Asian country where the government was not all that open to outside help for the Christian minority. But as long as the team was invited by the local believers and acted merely as trainers and not putting on ministry for them, they’d be allowed access.

So at 17 years old, just graduated from high school, Kyle drove an hour and a half every week to attend the training sessions in the months leading up to the trip, then flew 7300 miles with a group of people he had never met before joining the team earlier that year, and served in a country where he did not speak a word of the language.

He loved it.

The people, the food, the climate, the culture. He loved it all.

Kids are Kids

Kyle has served in children’s and youth ministry a lot over the years, from nursery to day camp, and this trip allowed him to put his experience to good use training others. The churches there do not have what we would call a robust youth program or children’s ministry. So Kyle’s team showed them what a vacation Bible school could look like for them.

Frankly, from the pictures Kyle showed us, it looks a lot like what we have here. Kids having fun with teens and grown ups.

Kyle's second from the left, in case you were wondering

Kyle is second from the left, in case you were wondering

And hearing stories about Jesus.

He's the one holding the book

He’s the one holding the book

They went from one end of the country to the other working with churches in large cities and with people from small villages, and Kyle couldn’t wait to return.

So he went back three more times.

Kyle Plays a Solo

The next trip was with the team when they went again a couple years later. But when he found out they weren’t planning a third trip he got in touch with their contact in-country and arranged to just show up on his own and work wherever he was needed.

He was there to teach English, and he did. But that school only operated in the late afternoons/early evenings so that left the days and the nights for exploring and meeting people. A friend introduced him to a coffee house full of people his age, people he would come to know as friends over the course of that summer.

Kyle plays guitar, and that was the common ground for him and the regulars because this place had a small stage for anyone who wanted to get up and sing or play. Kyle decided to play worship songs. The people there ate it up, and he made friends.

Kyle and the Coffee House Friends (which sounds like the title of a YA novel)

Kyle and the Coffee House Friends
(which sounds like the title of a YA novel)

Slow down next time you see a dog

This year he led a small team of college students back to the country he’d come to love, ready to serve the people and the churches in any way they could. It again turned out to be mostly children’s ministry, but there were also opportunities for adult fellowship and when Kyle gave his testimony about his love for God and the people he came to be with there, apparently there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Except Kyle’s. He thought he sounded kind of lame.

Doesn't look lame to me

Kyle thinking he looks lame

As in past years, the team enjoyed finding out about new foods and how to shop for whatever items became necessary over the course of the trip. Kyle had been picking up the language some over the years, so he was adept at bartering in the open air markets. This traveling around also necessitated that they engage in the country’s favored mode of cheap transportation, the scooter.

One day Kyle was driving with a team member on the back when a dog darted into the road. He tried to avoid the animal, but couldn’t swerve out of the way. He hit the dog and had to lay the scooter down as they slid to a stop.

Kyle’s passenger got a few scrapes. Kyle ended up needing stitches in his knee for a fairly deep would. The dog died.

Kyle paid the dog’s owner for his loss, and the owner turned around and sold the dog to a local restaurant.

The passenger cleaned up and was able to get around well by trip’s end.

Kyle is still recovering, but is almost back to full strength. So maybe he was kind of lame on this trip after all. The locals who heard of the accident all had the same advice: slow down the next time you see a dog; that’s what they all do, they said.

Seasoned Veteran

As you would expect, we’ve noticed a lot of growth in our son on the mission field from age 10 to now. You might say he’s developed a sophisticated understanding of what it means to serve God.

Kyle and Overseas Friend Showing Their Sophistication

Kyle and Overseas Friend Showing Their Sophistication

God grows his people.


[For earlier reports on Kyle’s trip, look here and here. For posts about our daughter Jenna’s work in South Africa this summer, click here, here and here.]

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18 Responses to Coffee, Collisions and Kids – My Son’s on a Mission

  1. Wonderful parents to encourage this growth also.

  2. Adriana says:

    I’m all teary eyed over this post this morning, Tim. Your kids are full of the light and love of Christ! How refreshing! Keep those parenting tips coming! Our oldest two kids are about a decade behind yours. Nothing would thrill me more than to see my children grow up serving Christ with such JOY! Thanks for sharing.

    • Tim says:

      As your kids reach the end of high school, my counsel is that you and Joe keep repeating the phrase my wife and I adopted: You raise ’em up to move ’em out! That helps you to be prepared for the transitions and it helps them see that their parents are expecting them to try new ventures.

  3. I think it is so wonderful that he started doing missions work so early on in life. I had opportunities but my parents hadn’t money and I didn’t know you could raise funds so I missed those early opportunities and regret it quite a bit.
    Kyle’s a handsome guy. Good job, Tim. You and your wonderful wife have raised him and your daughter so very well that the passion of God flows through them and to those who are elsewhere, and I love that so very much!!! May He continue to bring growth in their lives and move them and build them!! What you are able to say about your children, I hope I can one day say about my own.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Victoria. I bet the work you are doing with the youth group now is having an impact on your sons as they see what people can do for God. I think it’s one of the things that made an impression on my own kids – that they got to see the work we did with children and youth and music at church – and as they grew up they saw that they could do work in God’s kingdom too.

      • Oh wow, I didn’t really think about that, honestly. The boys LOVE the youth group kids so much. They are around them pretty often, and love “the teenagers” as they call them. I hope that will be a start. I don’t know how many years I have left as a leader though. I long to do international mission work, but after reading KP Yohannan’s book about India, where we were planning, it seems that the support of national missionaries there is of greater importance because of how the Indian people view white people and “their western god” compared to hearing their own people bringing Jesus to them. Now we’ve been spending a few months in prayer of national mission work in the US. Youth group is where we are currently. 😉

  4. Jeannie says:

    Tim, your son’s love for God and eagerness to be used by Him are wonderful to see. As for your comment to Adriana above re “movin’ them out” — it strikes me that even if we have kids that we may not be able to move out (as I do), we can still encourage them to enjoy God’s love for them and to let Him use them — because He can and will do so in amazing ways. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Tim says:

      So true, Jeannie. Jonathan may not move out as we commonly think of it, but because of how you are raising him he will be able to move out from where he is now to where he can go next. So I still think you’re raising him up to move him out.

  5. Your son sounds like a special and tender hearted young man, thanks for writing about him. My daughter has been especially tenderized as a youngster and began serving Him early as well, what a blessing!

    I confess I was a aghast at the selling the dead dog to a restaurant, however, and was waiting (hoping) you were going to say “just kidding”. 🙂

  6. Aimee Byrd says:

    Tim, I am challenged by the freedom and encouragement you and your wife give to your children to serve in this way. I’m afraid that I may be sheltering my kids a bit too much out of fear, and that isn’t helping them when it’s time to move ’em out! Thanks for sharing, and your son is beautiful, inside and out it seems! What a blessing from the Lord.

    • Tim says:

      Aimee, your kids aren’t quite at the age ours were when we started sending them off, I think.

      Still, would you believe we first sent our daughter Jenna overseas without us when she was 15? That was a short summer exchange trip to France where she and other kids lived with families as part of the high school’s French program. The next summer she went to 9 European countries over 2 months with a missions team, doing street ministry and living in tents all summer. Then it was Israel and Europe the next summer, and the same the summer after that and now she has this South Africa thing going on for two summers.

      Allowing Jenna and Kyle both to travel like this doesn’t mean we haven’t had some thoughts about how things might go wrong. We concluded that we need to allow them to seek out serving God, though, and that means freeing them up and encouraging them along.

      I bet you’ll find you and Matt are encouraging your kids quite well as the Spirit leads you.


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