May 7-13, 2012
Editorial: Never underestimate the role and influence of mothers
Translated by Lydia Ma
During a Church World Mission East-Asia Region (CWMEAR) conference, I had the opportunity to chat with a few delegates from Southeast Asia and learned interesting facts about missions in Malaysia. Some delegates shared with me that besides the challenges inherent in evangelizing in a predominantly Muslim society, where the economic and political systems are controlled by Muslims, another major challenge lies in the “gentle and graceful shadow of Muslim women that lure away souls that would otherwise be saved.”
The delegate who shared these thoughts with me said that Muslim women are very pleasant and keen on establishing strong families, as well as devout followers of Islam. Their appeal to Christian seekers, including young men who have already been baptized into the Christian faith, is strong and though these young men have confessed prior marriage that they like Christian teachings much more than Islamic teachings. One major factor explaining this appeal is that the kind of Muslim family that these women seek to create with their husbands is appealing and easy for Christian men identify with once they are married and have children.
Such a phenomenon in Malaysia reminds me of a Taiwanese idiom that many Christian parents used to tell their adult children who were getting ready to get married. This idiom advises parents that “marry off a daughter, and you lose just one child. Get a daughter-in-law, and you lose one entire family.” The purpose of this idiom is to warn Christian women that they may be forced to abandon their faith if they marry into a non-Christian family. But for Christian men who marry non-Christian wives, their sons and daughters – their entire family – risk departing from the Christian faith because of a non-Christian mother.
This idiom is a reminder that mothers are influential in the lives of their children from everything they say and teach to everything they do. Naturally, this influence extends to the realm of religion, where mothers play a crucial role in nurturing the spiritual life of their children and no one else can take their place.
If we look at the history of the Israelites just before they left Egypt, we will find that mothers partnered with God in raising and influencing an entire generation and they were also crucial in nurturing God’s servants. One such example is the story of the Hebrew midwives found in Exodus 1. In this story, the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders, treated the newborn babies of other Hebrew women as their own, and allowed these babies to live instead of following Pharaoh’s orders. As result, the nation of Israel was preserved and God greatly blessed these women and gave them families of their own.
Another example is the story of Moses’ birth mother, who must have taught Moses Hebrew and sang Hebrew songs to and subtly ingrained in his heart his true Hebrew identity, even though Moses lived in an Egyptian palace. Subtly ingraining such a special identity into the next generation played a crucial role in the creation of the Hebrew nation.
Being a mother is like assuming a full-time job with no holidays or vacations. A mother’s love, perseverance, sacrifice and heartache offers us a glimpse of God’s character and feelings toward us. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we pray that God will bless all the mothers in the world. To all mothers who gave birth or adopted and raised their children, remember that God has given you authority to pass on your heritage to your children. This is indeed a great challenge that deserves our constant prayer.