Revive Our Hearts Podcast

I Was Naked and You Clothed Me

Leslie Basham: Ann Dunagan and her family were in Uganda. There were hurting children everywhere, but a thirteen- year-old boy especially caught their attention.

Ann Dunagan: This boy had a ripped up t-shirt, no shorts, and no underwear. When I would go by, he would pull his shirt down so I couldn't see. It just dug in my heart because I was thinking of how proud I was of my ridiculously conquered closets. I just said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

Leslie: We're about to hear what they tried to do about it. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, August 6.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As you read through the Scripture, one of the things you can't help but notice, all the way from Genesis through Revelation, is that our God has a heart for the nations to know the Gospel. I'm thinking, for example, of Psalm 96:3, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” We have a mission-minded God, and if we're going to be followers of Christ, children of God, we're going to be mission-minded as well.

That's why I'm so glad to welcome back to Revive Our Hearts our guest this week, Ann Dunagan, who has written a number of books and articles. We're talking this week about a Mission-Minded Family. Ann, thank you for writing this book, for living it out, and for being here with us on Revive Our Hearts to talk about how to build a family that has a passion for the glory of God, and for His Gospel to go to nations.

Ann: Thank you, Nancy. I am delighted to be here.

Nancy: As I was reading your book, I felt like I was reading the story of my own parents' heart for our family. I'm the oldest of seven. You have seven children. My parents were very intentional about not only communicating the Gospel to us, but passing on to us in very practical ways a heart for missions, for making the Gospel of Christ known to the nations.

In fact, for their honeymoon my parents—and most people don't know this story, but I was born nine months and four days after my parents got married. Let me start there—so for their honeymoon, my mother got pregnant with me on the first week of their honeymoon.

My parents took three months—my dad was between businesses at that point. They went down to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, British West Indies, Haiti, these islands. These were third world countries at the time—and did street preaching. My mom would sing. My dad would preach. They were sleeping under mosquito netting at night. That period was her first trimester of carrying me. So my dad used to call me his little gypsy because the first part of my life was spent in the womb traveling around with them doing ministry, doing evangelism, making the Gospel known.

My dad was a business man; he wasn't a preacher. But he had a testimony, he knew the Gospel, and he wanted to share it. So that's how my life got started. I said to you before we started recording that the seeds that you are planting in your seven children today, it will be generations before you fully know the outcome of some of those seeds. Even as my dad has now been with the Lord for thirty years, so much of what I am doing today is a result of those seeds of kingdom-mindedness, mission-mindedness that were planted in my life at a very early age.

You're doing it with your seven children now, ages eight to twenty-two. When they were little, how did you get started in passing on to them a heart for the Gospel and a heart for the kingdom of Christ and a heart to live for a mission greater than themselves? When they were little, how did you start that?

Ann: When our family was smaller, my husband and I were just stepping out into full-time evangelism work. We just traveled with our children all over the world. There was a time when we had a toddler. I was halfway through my pregnancy. We were traveling throughout Hong Kong; we were smuggling Bibles into China, going into remote areas, sleeping under mosquito nets like you were talking about, riding Jeepneys. God has opened up doors throughout the world. We actually have always lived in the United States, but have just gone back and forth, back and forth.

Nancy: And you took your children as you went.

Ann: We did. When our family was littler, we would just take our kids with us everywhere. Sometimes we would bring along a niece, or someone who could help be an extra set of hands to help us with our little ones. We began to pray and seek God for exactly what we were supposed to do and who was supposed to go on each trip. Sometimes my husband would go on a short outreach by himself. As our children got older, we would sometimes go all together as a family. Sometimes my husband would take one of our teenage boys. Then it was also very special father/son time. My college age daughter and I have traveled on many mission trips, just the two of us.

Nancy: Doing what kinds of things?

Ann: My husband's main target is mission evangelism. He goes where the harvest is about to be lost unless someone goes. That's our particular calling. Our ministry is harvest ministry. For example, when the Soviet Union broke up back in the early 90s and there was an open door like never before to go into Russia, Ukraine, and other places in the former Soviet Union, that was where we were headed—bringing in Bibles, helping with outreach, doing evangelism, being in schools.

Then there were times after the Rwandan genocide, that place was very ripe for harvest. There had been so much war and so much devastation. There were people who desperately needed to hear the Gospel right then. That's when we were going into Rwanda quite a bit.

The Lord has just dug deep in my heart about the need of orphans. There were times where we would be in an area, and there's all these little naked children around. I just remember it began to stir in my heart so deeply. There was one point in particular. There is this Hudson Taylor quote from when he was a young man. He said, "I feel like I cannot go on living unless I do something for China."

I had gotten to this point where I felt like I could not go back to Africa again unless we did something big for orphans. There was this burning desire that just kept burning deeper. I finally just got to the point where I felt like I was about to explode. "I can't come back here again unless we do something for these orphan children."

There were a few different things that the Lord used to stir this up in a very deep way. The same heart for working with orphaned children was inside my daughter also. We actually started an orphanage in Uganda, East Africa called Osanidde Village. Osanidde is a Ugandan word, a word from the Ugandan language that means “you are worthy.” It sounds just like "oh sunny day." So we wanted to provide a place of joy and happiness where this lost generation—the parents were all dying out of AIDS—that the children could be preserved, protected, and raised to love Jesus.

Nancy: There's a passage in Proverbs 31 that I know has been meaningful to you that talks about having this heart.

Ann: When we look at Proverbs 31, we usually start in verse 10. Proverbs 31:10 begins, “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies” (KJV). Well, if you read the whole thing in context, some of my favorite verses in the Bible are Proverbs 31:8-9, which say,

Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of those who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and the needy (NKJV). 

The Lord began working in my heart about the importance of opening up my mouth and sharing, pleading the cause. Being ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading though us. God is seeing the injustice in this world. He sees children who are dying. He sees all of these needs. He wants for us to open our mouth and plead the cause of the poor and the needy.

Nancy: And it goes on in Proverbs 31:20, “She opens her hands to poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (ESV). So she doesn’t just think about this. This isn't a burden she carries on her heart. It's something she actually does something about in some practical, tangible way to help to meet these needs of the needy and poor around her.

Ann: There was this one time that my kids and I had done this major closet purging effort. We had gotten some sacks of clothes. The kids' closet was a major disaster area. I thought, Okay, we are going to conquer the closets. So we took a couple days and organized the closets. We picked up all the hangers. We had the giveaway pile and the throwaway pile. It was a major effort to get all these clothes organized.

It was shortly after that that I headed over to Uganda. I was doing this one women's conference, and there were children everywhere around that place that were naked. There was one little boy in particular that had this ripped up shirt. He was the same age as my son Daniel, who at that time was thirteen years old. This boy had a ripped up t-shirt, no shorts, and no underwear. When I would go by, he would pull his shirt down so I couldn't see. It just dug in my heart because I was thinking of even how proud I felt of my ridiculously conquered closets.

I went back to this little room I was staying in under the mosquito net, and I just said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” I remember that God just dropped in my heart and said, “Ann, I am the one naked on these streets. Are you going to do something about it?” I just remember thinking, What can I do? We had a little bit of money, and we went and bought armloads of clothes. I thought, This will be fun. We'll clothe all these little naked kids running around.

So our family started passing out these clothes and were trying to match up boy with boy clothes and girl with girl clothes. I thought this was a little, noble fun thing; this will be great. As we began, mothers came running from different areas of the village. Then word began to spread, and people came running, holding up little naked children, asking, "Can we have some of some of these clothes?" There was such a swarm of people around us that we ended up getting in the back of the truck. That didn't work. I ended up on top of the cab of the truck, trying to pass out these clothes.

What I thought was going to be a wonderful thing ended up in pathetic pandemonium. It did something deep in my heart where I thought, "You know, the Bible says, 'I was naked, and you didn't clothe me'" (Matt. 25:43). I just came home, and I got a bunch of kids' churches together with our own family to be a part of this. We thought, "What can we do to clothe the children in this village? All those kids that weren't able to get something." That was exciting.

Nancy: What did you do?

Ann: We did! We got a bunch of kids' churches together, put up these little thermometers, and said, "We're going to clothe a few of these villages. Who wants to come and help with $5 or $10?"

Our son, Daniel, during this particular time, God moved in his heart in a very real way. He had some savings. He had some money he was trying to save up so he could open up a checking account. He kept thinking about that little kid that was his age that didn’t have any shorts, only had one ripped up t-shirt and not even underwear. It just moved his heart in a very deep way. I remember, he went and dumped out all the money on his bed and came and gave us all of his savings and said, "I want to help those kids." It was exciting. It was something that God had moved in his heart.

Nancy: So his faith is becoming his own faith, not just riding the spiritual coattails of his parents.

Ann: When God does something inside the hearts of our children, it is so precious. Our son Josh, when he was ten . . . It was around Christmas time early in December, my husband was in some remote place in Africa. Josh sat down in the living room with his little Bible, and he was having his little quiet time. He was praying for his dad over in Africa and praying for the lost and praying that people would come to know Jesus. Then I came in the living room, and Josh was crying. I'm like, “Josh, what is going on?” He was crying hard. He said, “Mom, I just realized that there are people who don't know Jesus. If they don’t know Jesus, they can't go to heaven. If they can't go to heaven, they're going to go to hell, and they're going to be stuck there forever.”

It was that phrase, “stuck there.”

Then he said, “Mom, I've never led anybody to Jesus. What have I done? I pray, and we do little things, but I’ve never led anybody to Jesus.”

I remember I sat down on the couch next to Josh and said, "Let's just pray that God will give you an opportunity this week to pray with someone to receive Jesus Christ."

So he wrote this precious little letter to God, all misspelled—as a homeschool mom, it was quite pathetic—but the content of it was awesome. He said, “Lord, you are precious to me. You are precious, and I love You. Help me to share about You.”

So I as a mom wanted to nurture what he was doing in his heart. I actually took him to some different parks. I took him to some places where kids would hang out. We got some little tracts that we were able to take. I talked with him about how he could pray with someone to receive Jesus. He ended up going to a park and talking to a little boy named Randy, and led Randy to Jesus that week. That was awesome. He's now graduated from college. Just a couple months ago, he was with my husband preaching in Mozambique and Swaziland, just preaching the Gospel alongside of his dad.

Nancy: I can imagine some people thinking this is like a really different family. There are these old-fashioned missionary people that do things that are "out of the box," but I’m just living a normal life. I have a job; my husband has a job. We have a normal family. Are you saying, and do you believe, Ann, that there are ways that every family can implement a heart for missions and a heart God's kingdom?

Ann: Absolutely. By the way, I am a very normal mom. I do laundry and dishes. We have a home-group in our house. It's not all just big and glorious. It's everyday life. Every single family is called to be mission-minded. "The Great Commission," Hudson Taylor said, "is not an option. It's a command to obey." It's not just for isolated missionary people, select apostles, and big-named people. It is for every single one of us. Every single Christian is called to expand the kingdom of God in whatever sphere of influence; we are called to reach.

When it says "go into all the world" (see Matt. 28:19), it's not only geographic worlds, it's worlds, it's people-groups. Worlds like soccer-mom worlds. You can just go and be a light and representative for Jesus Christ on the soccer field. You can go in your neighborhood for people to know this is a Christian family. They go to church, love Jesus, and they invite people to come. I mean practical things that every family can do. We can be a witness.

We have the kingdom of God in us and flowing through us. We could be going to Safeway, and it's like the kingdom of God is coming in to Safeway, walking right next to people who need Jesus Christ. They are in the kingdom of darkness, and we are right in the same aisle in Safeway.

It's not like you witness to every single person you come into contact with. Just yesterday I was on an airplane, and there was a lady sitting next to me. I was kind of tired. I was sleeping, but the lady next to me was coughing. I thought, Lord, help me not to get a sickness that she has. I put my blanket over me, and I felt a nudge. I felt this nudge from the Lord. I felt Him say, “Don’t you worry about getting something from her. I love her, and she needs to hear about Me.” So I started talking with her, and we had an awesome conversation.

We can all give to help expand God's kingdom. We can all instill inside of our children that they are to love God and to just be open to whatever God would have them to do.

Nancy: Ann, you're really talking about living a life that is intentional. As children of God, children of His kingdom, children of the kingdom of light, rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God's Son, we have a mission for being here on this earth. We're not just talking about another country; we are talking about the world and the nations.

We're talking about living purposeful, intentional lives. Not just living like the rest of the world does, drifting hopelessly, going from one activity to the next, from one sporting event to the next, from one school day to the next, from one work day to the next, without any sense of meaning and direction.

We're saying God has put us here on this earth, whether single, married, children, no children, workplace, neighborhood, wherever we are, we are ambassadors of Christ. We are the light of the world. The light that Jesus has placed in us is supposed to be shining though us. Really the challenge is for every woman, whatever her season of life, whatever the ages of her children, to be intentional about letting that light shine in the world. Don't you think your children catch that spirit and environment?

Ann: Absolutely. Being able to instill in our children, beginning with the end in mind, we begin by looking at what's it all about. It's even beyond what people will think about us at our funeral. It's even beyond leaving a lasting legacy. It's all about the end, which is eternity. It's being eternally-minded. Where we are focused on that end result, where we are face to face with almighty God. What are the decisions and the discussions that we are making today, both with our children and as a family as we are representing Him to the world? What difference is it making for eternity?

Nancy: Eternity is something that we ought to be thinking about every day of our lives. It's the thought of eternity that makes this day meaningful. As you've been listening to this conversation with Ann Dunagan, and how the thought of eternity motivates and drives her as a mother, and as a wife, as a woman, how she lives in light of eternity, let me ask you:

  • How are you living in light of eternity?
  • Is that something that you think about? Is it uppermost on your heart?
  • Is Christ and His kingdom and the fame and the spread of His glory and His gospel, is that something that has even entered your mind today? Did you think about it yesterday?
  • Are you mindful of that as you are going about doing your job, doing you errands, doing whatever it is you're doing today, whatever you are doing listening to this radio program?
  • You may be cleaning your house, you may be in the workplace, you may be in a van chauffeuring little ones. Whatever you're doing, are you doing it in light of the kingdom of God?
  • What you will be thinking, really, a moment or two from now, when you face Christ with all of life behind you and all of eternity before you?
  • Will your life, your choices have made a difference that will matter in your life, in your children’s lives, and in the lives of others when it comes to eternity?

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Ann Dunagan will be right back. They'll pray that each of us will develop a heart for eternity. I think we've all been challenged to grow in our passion for God's kingdom today. Would you feed that passion and let it grow day by day? Ann Dunagan's book will be a big part of that process. It's called The Mission-Minded Family. I hope you'll gain some practical ideas from the book, share a passion for God's world with your children, and affect the world for God's kingdom together.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we'll send your copy of The Mission-Minded Family. You can donate by phone at 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

There are so many urgent needs in the world. How might God be preparing your children to make an impact in a needy world? Learn how to release them to build God's kingdom, tomorrow when Ann Dunagan returns. You can also interact with Ann on our listener blog today and tomorrow. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com, find today's transcript, scroll to the bottom, and let Ann know how today's program affected you. Now, she and Nancy are back to wrap things up.

Nancy: Ann, I wonder if you would just close this conversation by leading us in prayer and asking the Lord to put that heart within us, within our listeners, that we might be women who really live our lives intentionally. I know that some of our listeners don't have the kind of marriage you and John have. Some of them are in heart-breaking marriages. Some of them have prodigal children. There are lots of different issues and seasons. But would you just pray that wherever each listener is, that there would be that heart to love Christ, to make Him known, and to make a life that really will make a difference?

Ann: Absolutely. Heavenly Father, we come to You. Lord, I thank You that You are huge. You are beyond our imagination. Lord, we pray that You would come and that You would flow through us to this world, Lord Jesus. I pray that we would be eternally-minded, that we would be mindful of Your presence. Father, I pray that each person listening would feel Your love, that they would know that You love them so much, and that You want for them to get a bigger view of who You are in their lives. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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