The Joy of Intergenerational Mission Trips
Ka Leung Lee | NOVEMBER 29, 2018 | 5 MIN READ
Below is a lightly edited interview with the Lee family. They went on a family mission trip together through their church in Austin, TX. We hope you will be encouraged to see how the whole family was able to serve together.
SOLA: Can you tell me us bit about the mission trip you went on together? How old were the kids when you did it?
Sibyl (Mother): We went on a mission trip as a family with the church youth group a few years ago. It was to Houston, Texas to serve the homeless there.
Rebecca (Daughter): I was in 7th grade (13 years old).
Ka Leung (Father): Elliot was in 5th grade (11 years old).
SOLA: Why did you decide to do it as a family?
Ka Leung: When the kids were small, I had the thought of going on a mission trip as a family. If I recall correctly, that thought was prompted by hearing a sharing of a family going to a mission trip together. Both timing and cost-wise the trip was a good opportunity for us.
SOLA: What was your reasoning about why a family mission trip would be worthwhile?
Sibyl: We like to do things together as a family and have shared experiences and grow closer to each other and to the Lord.
Ka Leung: It might also encourage the kids to go since we were with them.
SOLA: Why do you think it is rare for families in Chinese churches to go on a mission trip together? Ka Leung and Sibyl, you are both ministry leaders. What are some of the obstacles for Chinese churches to have opportunities like this?
Ka Leung: There may be several reasons:
The cost may be a significant factor. For example, if a family of 4 go to a Japan mission trip together, that’s quite a lot of money. Of course, we can do fundraising. But the pools of potential supporters may overlap significantly.
The window of time. The only practical time is the summer break. If the kids have other activities during the summer, that further limits the window.
Another factor may be that parents and kids usually attend different worship services and each has its own focus.
Elliot (Son): Chinese families typically aren’t very active with each other. There is a lot of turmoil in a family because the parents don’t spend time with their kids or don’t know how to.
SOLA: What were some highlights of the trip?
Rebecca: I really enjoyed when we went to a church really early in the morning to serve breakfast to the homeless people. I am not a morning person, so it was a little rough to wake up and immediately serve people, but it helped me to think less about myself and just focus on helping others. I served the grits, and whenever I scooped it onto their plates, each person would be so kind and grateful for a even small amount of food.
Ka Leung: We got to know a little more about the life of a homeless person. For example, before the trip, I knew that a homeless person had to face a lot of dangers. But one thing I had not thought of before was that even small things like insect bites were a big problem.
SOLA: Have you done ministry before as a family, before going on missions?
Ka Leung: Two things we have been doing as a family since the kids were babies. One is the Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree ministry. We have been delivering Angel Tree gifts as a family, and Sibyl has been the Angel Tree coordinator at our church. When the kids were older, they also helped at church such as helping at sign-up tables (brothers and sisters signing up to buy gifts and/or deliver gifts), helping to collect gifts volunteers have bought.
Another ministry we do together is the annual Walk for Life organized by the Texas Alliance for Life. We have been participating for many years. Finally, we help set up classrooms for Cantonese Sunday School so that the teachers can focus on getting ready for their classes.
Sibyl: I try to include the kids in serving as much as I can since they were very young. I wanted serving or doing ministry as a way of life as opposed to something separate that we do. So if I signed up to make coffee at church for the Sunday School class, I included my kids to help fill the pot up with water and measure out the coffee grounds. In this way, they are being trained to serve others and ministering with their lives.
SOLA: What was difficult about going on missions as a family?
Ka Leung: In our case, I don’t think there was any particular difficulty.
Sibyl: I think just coordinating schedules of work and school. Since it was over the spring break holiday, that made it a bit easier. KL was the only one that had to take time off as I work for the school district. Everyone in my family was very supportive.
SOLA: In what ways was the experience enhanced by being together as a family? How did it help you to grow closer?
Rebecca: This trip gave us a new ministry experience that we did as a family. We got to serve and DO things together which brought us closer together.
Elliot: As a 5th-grader, I didn’t know what to expect about the the trip. It was my first time on missions and I was the youngest person in the team. Going as a family made it feel casual, and it felt like I was spending time with my family while serving.
SOLA: What can churches do to encourage families to consider a multi-generational ministry or missions opportunity?
Ka Leung: If the church sees this as something beneficial, then the church needs to intentionally arrange for missions trips that the entire family can serve together.
Ka Leung Lee and his family resides in Austin, Texas. They attend Austin Chinese Church. They desire to serve the Lord together as a family in different ministries both in the church and in the community.