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Review: For the Joy

Chan, Miram & Russell, Sophia. For the Joy: 21 Australian Missionary Mother Stories on Cross-cultural Parenting and Life. Australia: Grace Abounding Books, 2018.

Review by Evangeline Hester
Communications Assistant at CMS Australia

For the Joy is a collection of 21 reflections on cross-cultural parenting and life written by Australian Missionary mothers, published in 2018. It can be easy to think of missionary mums too highly, too simply, or not at all, and this book provides a small window of insight into their lives.

Hear from women who call themselves a bad mum, an imperfect mum, a worried mum, and an ordinary mum. Read accounts of llama-flavoured chaos living in a bus, language-learning frustration while trying to raise a toddler, grief-stricken wordlessness holding a dead child, and bittersweet joy in the knowledge that all things, including raising a family on location as missionaries, are part of God’s plan.

Naomi Reed (author of My Seventh Monsoon) writes, “Read this book and be encouraged! Share it with your friends, especially those who find themselves in far-flung, bewildering places… but also share it with your friends who want to love and support their friends who are currently serving in far-flung, bewildering places.”

This book contains contributions from several CMS missionaries, including Sandra King and Tamie Davis. Miriam Chan is a former CMS staff member.

“The world had taught me what was a ‘good mum’, and, although I added to it or altered it with my faith in Christ, I never addressed the glaring difference between what I was taught and the choices I have made. … Now I have found sweet release. I am a bad mum. I will not put my children in the best schools. I will not give them a home where there aren’t bats in the roof and the sewerage doesn’t flow into the streets. I will not stop them suffering culture stress. I will not stop asking them to say goodbye to transitioning friends and houses and pets. I am a bad Mum because I could rescue my kids from all that hurt, but I won’t. There is no reason on earth to serve on the mission field. But there is also every reason, in Christ. (p. 35)”