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Can you raise a child with special needs overseas?

Can you raise a child with special needs overseas?

Can you raise a special needs child overseas? What if the child has Down Syndrome? That was the exact question that we had to answer when our daughter was born? This was not the question, can we move overseas but rather can we remain living overseas.

Now 14 years later our daughter has lived overseas longer than she has lived in her passport country. I can’t even say birth country because she was born overseas. When she was born and we learned she had Down Syndrome, we did wonder if that was the end of living overseas. Would we need to move to our home country?  Did God forget that we were missionaries and serving him overseas?

I am writing this from the perspective of raising our daughter, Miss K, overseas. She is high functioning and has minimum medical needs at this time. We are limited in where we will live overseas but we are still overseas.

As we faced that question, it was encouraging to talk with other parents raising children with special needs overseas. We visited another family who had a son with Down Syndrome which was encouraging to see how they were raising him.

I realize that there can be children with more special needs that will require them to be in their home country. If that is your case or someone you know, I trust that you can rest knowing that God knows and has a plan for your life and your child in your home country.

Challenges Raising a Child with Special Needs Overseas

Some of the challenges that we faced are similar to those faced by parents of special needs children in their home country. This is something that parents will need to evaluate based on their child and the country where they will be living.

There might be medical and therapy challenges. Thankfully the hospital where Miss K was born was able to do both of the operations that she needed at birth. We did have some communication challenges as the one surgeon did not speak English. God also provided assistance with therapy in those early years.

There can be educational challenges. Homeschooling helped with this challenge. Some of the international schools are not able to handle a child with this level of needs. Now Miss K is attending the local secondary school.

At this time she does not have many social challenges. We do not have to learn a foreign language for where we are living. If that were the case, that could be a challenge for Miss K. She does have a bit of Chinese. If we were still in that environment, I am not sure how much she would learn. Sometimes her speech struggles combined with the American accent make it difficult for people to understand but usually, as people spend time with her they are able to understand her. Our daughter is able to be involved in various activities for children her age.

There can be challenges as the child get older. We are just beginning to ponder what this will look like for Miss K.

Yes, there were and are challenges raising a special needs child overseas. Some of those are the same challenges you might have in your home country. There are unique challenges that expats face.

But the blessings not just to us but to those around us can be so much greater. We have seen God provide in so many ways from medical to therapy to friends. That is a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

Raising special needs children overseas is a testimony to others. I still remember the words of the Christian nurse in the hospital after she was born saying, “so many of them do not make it” referring to the fact that so many children with Down Syndrome are aborted. Raising Miss K overseas has shown people that God values people. We have had numerous conversations with strangers and opportunities to share the value of each person to God. Many years were spent in Asia and her life was a testimony to God there as often those with disabilities are left at home.

It might be challenging at times but in all of that God is faithful.

Are you a parent of a special needs children and considering living overseas? Maybe you have a friend with a child with special needs living overseas. This can help you to pray for them in new ways.



A-Z Praying for Missionaries – Part 3

A-Z Praying for Missionaries – Part 3


This is Part 3 of A-Z Praying for Missionaries. Here is Part 1 and here is Part 2.

We are working through the alphabet with things to different things to pray about for missionaries. We are now at the end of the alphabet and that does require a bit of creativity.

P is for protection – Driving in some countries is not as safe as at home. Driving laws are not enforced or don’t exist so it can be taking your safety in your own hands. Depending on where the missionary is living there can be other safety things that are not the same standards that they are used to at home.

Q is for quiet time – Pray that the quiet time will be a time of refreshing and renewing them. Pray that they will be disciplined in this.

R is for rest – It is easy to be busy and hard to rest. Pray that there will be times of rest so that they can be refreshed for service.

S is for strength – Pray that the missionary will have renewed strength. (Isaiah 40:31) You can easily get weary with day in and day out things. God promises to give strength so pray for strength.

T is for temptations – Pray against temptations. Pray that the missionary will not give in to temptations. Pray for strength to stand firm.

U is for unity – Pray for unity within the team they are working with. Pray for unity with the local churches. The enemy wants to pull teams and individuals to disunity. Pray that they will have love and unity.

V is for Visa – Visas can be difficult depending on the country. Pray for provision of a visa. Pray for funds for a visa. The cost of paperwork or traveling to get a visa and add up. The visa allows them to be in the country. Pray God will provide.

W is for Warfare – Spiritual warfare. We have an enemy and he will try to stop or discourage the spread of the gospel. Pray for protection in this area.

X is for excellence – It is easy to just do what needs to be done but we need to work with excellence as a goal.

Y is for yielding to the Lord – Sometimes missionaries are in places that they know it is where God wants them but it might not be where they want to be. Pray that they will yield to the Lord trusting that the place he has them is the best place for them.

Z is for zeal – Personal zeal for God and zeal for the calling. It can be tiring and difficult but the God and what he has called us to do can keep us motivated.

Do some of these sound like things you pray for yourself? Missionaries face some of the same struggles and more. Pray for them to continue in the calling to “Go ye into all the world.”

Partner in the work by praying. Your prayer is valuable to the work that is being done.

When you pray for a missionary, drop a note/email/text/message however you communicate with them. Let them know. It will encourage them.

A-Z Praying for Missionaries – Part 2

A-Z Praying for Missionaries – Part 2

How to Pray for Missionaries A-Z Prayer Guide Part 2

I shared about praying for missionaries starting at the beginning of the alphabet and going through giving some specific things for each letter. Part 1 can be found here.

Prayer is one way of partnering with the missionary in the work that God has called them to do. Pray for them and pray with them. Pray that the Word of God will be proclaimed.

H is for health – Pray for the health of the missionaries. Depending on where they are living and serving there are so many different challenges to their health, malaria, food poisoning, air quality, and other things that are not the same as at home. Pray they stay healthy.

I is for intercultural living – So many of the teams include people from various countries not just your home country and the host country. Pray for humility among the individuals. Pray that missionaries will understand the cultures but have a Biblical culture.

J is for joy – Joy in serving the Lord. It is easy to lose joy in what you are doing. The days get long, the burdens are heavy and joy slips away. Pray that each day will be filled with joy.


K is for knowledge – Knowledge comes from fearing the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) Pray that the missionary will have the knowledge from the Lord to share the Gospel is a relevant manner.

L is for Language – Learning the language and culture is a long process which takes years, pray that the missionary will continue learning and be able to understand and speak in the heart language.

M is for mercy – God’s mercy never comes to an end; it is new every morning. Pray that each day the missionary will know God’s mercy in their own life. From God’s mercy, we are reminded of his faithfulness. Pray that they will be reminded of God’s faithfulness.

N is for neighbours – Sometimes the greatest struggle can be those that are living so close. The ones with the dogs that bark all the time or leave their rubbish at your door. Pray that the missionary will have relationships that show Jesus.

O is for openness and opportunities – Pray that the people they meet with will be open to the gospel. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. Pray the missionary will be ready and take advantage of the opportunities.

Praying for missionaries is partnering with them in the work that God has called us to do. Your prayers are an essential part of the work.

Pray with focus. Pray beginning with A and work your way through the alphabet. Join in the work through your prayers. Have you prayed for a missionary today?

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How to Pray for Missionaries A to Z Prayer Guide – Part 1

How to Pray for Missionaries A to Z Prayer Guide – Part 1

How to pray for Missionaries A to Z

Sometimes when I can’t sleep I will pray through the alphabet. I will begin with A and see how far I set before I fall asleep. I have various themes that I follow. I thought I should share with you the theme of praying for missionaries. This is part one.

One of my favorite quotes about missions and prayer is from J. O.  Fraser, a missionary to the Lisu people of southwest China. J. O. Fraser knew that prayer is what was needed for the gospel to be proclaimed and the people to understand.

“I will not labor the point. You will see from what I am saying that I am not asking you just to give ‘help’ in prayer as a sort of sideline, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of this prayer warfare on you. I want you to take the burden of these people upon your shoulders. I want you to wrestle with God for them.” J. O.  Fraser

Do we have that kind of thoughts when we are praying for missions?

Our prayers for missionaries can do as much as those on the field. Do you pray with that kind of power?

The A to Z praying for missionaries will help you to focus your prayers.

A is for attitudes – Attitudes impact so much of life. It impacts how we look at things, how we respond. Attitudes can build us up or tear our work apart. Pray that attitudes will be Christ-like.

B is for balance – Pray that each one will live with balance in their lives. The ministry can be unending, there is always one more person you could meet with or another Bible study to write but yet we need to have balance.

C is for children – It can be children living with them or children away from home. Pray for the children that they will love and serve God. Pray that they will feel called by God to be part of the ministry.

D is for discernment – So many decisions need to be made and discernment is required. Listening to God’s voice and knowing what he wants us to do each day.

E is for encouragement – Pray that the missionaries will be encouraged. If it is times of not much fruit, it can be discouraging. The missionary might even wonder if it is worth being there. Pray that they will be encouraged to continue on in the work that God has called them to do.

F is for faith for finances – (I know that is a double letter.) Many missionaries are faith-based meaning that they rely on giving from churches and individuals. Pray that they will have faith to trust God for finances.

G is for grace – Missionaries need grace. We need to understand anew the grace that God gives us. We need to know the depth of grace that God gives us. We need to be able to give grace to those around us.

My desire is that this will help you to focus your prayers. Do you regularly pray for missionaries?

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