Why I Took My Children to Nicaragua

Fuller Youth Institute

Today's guest blogger is Keegan Lenker, youth pastor at Pasadena Nazarene.  Keegan was part of the 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort and currently serves as a Sticky Faith Coach.


Last month I had the honor of co-leading a trip of students and adults on an intergenerational mission trip to Nicaragua. I've been on two such trips over the last two years, but this year was extra special because my wife and two kids got to join me.  

The day before we left on this trip, I asked my wife how many of our friends she thought would think we're crazy for taking my six-year old son and two-year old daughter with us. Her response was, "Probably 99%." 

So much of what I've learned over the last three years in my involvement with Sticky Faith has caused me to say I'm a better husband, father, and pastor because of this research.  

I feel as though a huge part of my experience with this has been in how this research is shaping a new identity for us as a family.  

Each night as we pray over our children we say the same phrase: "God, help us to remember we belong to you, help us to learn what it means to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to be an example of what love looks like in the world. 

When the opportunity came up for us to consider taking our kids to Nicaragua this year, our only answer was "Yes."  

Throughout our two weeks together, my wife helped to lead a child development program in three different communities while I helped to oversee construction in those same communities. My two year-old, who doesn't know a stranger at all, loved the attention she received each day as she stepped off the bus to several Nicaraguan children. The language barrier proved minimal as they learned how to play and share life on the new park swings we added and took turns pushing each other.  

My six year-old is a bit more shy, but discovered ways where he could interact and play. He even kicked in to do his part in filling buckets with gravel so we could mix cement and pour a cement floor in a church where the pastored had been praying for a floor. In one of those locations, one lady pulled a team member aside and was thrilled because she'd be able to wear high heels to church for the first time! 

One of the highlights came for me one night when I was tucking my kids into bed. It was the night where all the questions came about Nicaragua, why they didn't have nice houses, why they didn't always have food to eat, why they had to sift through the dump to get plastic bottles. It was this time and through this experience where I was able to articulate to them how God was answering our prayers and how we were being an example of what love looks like in the world.

It's amazing how we experienced the exact same from the Nicaraguan people. I'm positive the Body of Christ is a bit stronger because we all shared this experience together. It has set a new rhythm for us as a family as we use this experience talk about what love looks like moving forward at home.  

The more I peel back the layers of the Sticky Faith research, the more layers I see that are crucial to being a healthy husband, father, and pastor. Nicaragua is just part of this for me.

What's one little thing you could do differently with your family this week that could alter your rhythm and bring about a huge difference?



Published Aug 27, 2012
Fuller Youth Institute

The Fuller Youth Institute leverages research into resources that elevate leaders, kids, and families.

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