Inspired by the work of Dr. M.A. Thomas in India, Julie Ferwerda enthusiastically embraced his God-given vision of sending out One Million Arrows (children trained to reach the nations with the gospel) into the world. While Thomas has been faithfully laboring to raise abandoned and orphaned children for the Lord while training them for future roles in ministry and evangelism, Ferwerda has expanded this vision to include our own biological children here in North America, and any whose lives we may touch through giving.
Ferwerda both encourages families to raise their children whole-heartedly for missions and ministry, while examining the impact that families can have mission-ally and financially as they seek to reach the world for Jesus. Recent years have seen a huge re-evaluation of the approaches used to impart discipleship upon children. Increasingly parents are turning away from reliance upon formal church ministries and embracing visions of family discipleship within their homes. Author Julie Ferwerda offers a unique approach to creating a family on fire for the great commission in One Million Arrows.
One of my favorite portions of the book was the inclusion of the paths different families have taken to raise their children with a passion for Christ. Many homeschooling families have shared their stories and the fruit their children's lives have borne. Likewise, the stories of many orphans who have been raised in Christian homes with a heart for ministry are also shared along with some of their impact upon the world.
Ferwerda's passion is unmistakable, but at times her message of spreading the gospel through the lives of children who have been abandoned and consequently raised in Christian homes seems a bit cold. There is little discussion of God's heart for placing orphans in families (regardless of whether they reach the world for Christ), the tender joys of adoption, or even the delights of parenthood. Her tight focus on raising children with hearts for evangelism does at times give an all-business, no-nonsense, raise 'em up, get 'em out, feel to her work.
With such a strong emphasis on numbers, I'm surprised that a strong emphasis on bearing more children and adopting more children into our families wasn't included in One Million Arrows. Though Ferwerda does briefly mention the possibility of having more children oneself, it's a one-sentence statement. She then focuses mainly upon financial support to international orphan ministries (100% of the book's proceeds are designated towards such ministries.) An excellent resource section at book's end provides an abundance of ministries to investigate for charitable giving.
Though I'm already somewhat familiar with the principles of family discipleship, reading One Million Arrows gave fresh inspiration, and a renewing of my vision for our family. It is so easy to become distracted in this temporal life, but Ferwerda keeps us focused on those things that have eternal value, and encourages us to run the race with both perseverance and joy.