BLOG: Fruitful as Family – Part one

For those who feel called to serve God and build Church overseas, the idea of uprooting and adapting to a new culture and language is daunting. For couples with children, a move like this brings unique challenges and opportunities. We asked a family serving in the Middle East to give us some insights into what life looks like for them.

What are the challenges of living as a family in the Arab world?

For us, our arrival coincided with us just starting out as parents and we struggled with the lack of formal support (e.g. baby groups) we had grown used to in the UK. Remaining in contact with my mums’ WhatsApp group proved to be an unexpected support in the early months and years as it helped me realise that much of what we were facing was just normal life as a parent! As well as this, fitting both ministry and family life into our timetable is a regular challenge, and we find we have to be adaptable with our routine.


What are the opportunities of living as a family in the Arab world?

Huge! Having children makes it so easy to make and build friendships here. It is also a great chance for locals to see how the gospel impacts and transforms family life, which holds such high value here.


What does community and team look like for your family?

Our team is very supportive, and we have many great expat friends and colleagues living close by. Our kids love visiting them and having them over for dinner. They are also a wonderful source of free babysitting!


What does fun and relaxation look like for your family?

Some facilities we might take for granted in the UK (e.g. swimming pools or libraries) are very expensive or difficult to get to, but we still can visit parks, malls, and fun shops. We often make our own fun at home (well who doesn’t at the moment?) which makes it easier to include others. Family trips to explore new parts of the city or country have been a real highlight and help us to appreciate afresh what an incredible country we are privileged to live in.


What does education/childcare look like for your family?

There are many options in our country, and we have seen the Lord’s gracious provision since arriving here.  Most recently we chose to put our 4-year-old into a very good kindergarten which she loves, and which provides lessons in both English and Arabic. Our toddler sees a local childminder four mornings a week. It is wonderful to see our little girl develop her social skills and learn Arabic alongside English. One of her new favourite words is ‘bah!’ – Arabic for ‘all gone!’


What would you say to a couple who are hesitant to go overseas with children?

I think it is right to be concerned about our children –  they are a precious and specific gift and ministry from our loving Father. I would encourage parents to be as specific as possible about their concerns. Are they mostly related to education? Distance from extended family? Particular needs of your child? When you can name your concerns you will be more equipped to see if a particular field or ministry can address them, and that will help with the ‘I just can’t see us doing this’ feeling.


If you and your family feel like God may be calling you to serve on the mission field, we’d love to chat with you and support you in any way we can. Fill out our Explore Further form and one of our mobilisation team will be in contact.


To read Part 2 of this series, click here, to hear from a family serving in North Africa.

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