My dear friend and “older woman” mentor in my life, Gloria, shares how God prepared her as He was also preparing her son for the mission field across the ocean to Central Asia. He, his wife and four children live out the gospel in an area where only .63% are evangelical Christians ( Joshua Project).
First, whether we know it or not, God in His mercy not only prepares the heart of the missionary but oh yes, so many times, the heart of the parents. I remember looking out of my kitchen window when my son was only 5 years old and watching him standing strong and loud and with passion atop of the doghouse….preaching….to the field? Yes and No…not that field, but preaching to the field to come, those to whom God would take him to hear the good news that Jesus has come to deliver them. It was one of those moments when a mother takes high note and ‘keeps these things in her heart and ponders them’. I did.
He was always my tenderhearted child, the sensitive one, the one crushed more easily. He loved the church, loved God, loved people…early. He was the one his friends went to for comfort and comradery, for counsel and advice. He was the one I could say to, ‘here’s what the bible says’ and he listened.
So, God prepared my heart in these ways, knowing that the day would come when he would likely in some way be about His Father’s business, although I honestly didn’t know or give it great consideration as to what, how, where. It was just like it was tucked away waiting for the unfolding.
There were many ‘firsts’ for us, as parents of a missionary and most of them started way before he left for the field. They started when he was here preparing. A “first” of digging and wrestling in my own soul as he wrestled and dug as to the things God was revealing to him and how that would prepare him. There was a pressing in for me…being a Christian, I soon discovered, was way more than I had previously knew. It was more than going to church and potluck dinners and saying grace and hearing gospel groups.! It was more than just reading the words and believing, it was believing and being. Being. Being a follower of Christ in ways I heretofore had not realized. It was now time for the mother to learn from the son. It was now time for departing in a way….the uncleaving of child and mother, the very one I was the MOST attached to. It was hard for him too. He couldn’t love me like he did before, his love had to be firstly above all else firmly and wholly unto the Lord now. This was probably the hardest part to face and come to terms with for me. Not that I didn’t want him to love the Lord first, but it meant a lot of detaching from ME. It meant a lot of me had to die and those things didn’t die easily! It took several years and in some ways, still does a bit, to accept what is not the ‘norm’ when a life is truly turned over to God. Yes, the LORD prepares the parents too.
People say interesting things to missionaries and their parents. I’m sure I would have too. They say things like, ” boy, you got to have faith to go overseas and serve God like that” or to us, they say, ” I bet that’s scary” (we hear that a lot). It makes me a little sad when they say that because the truth is we all must have faith like that, whether we stay here or go there. If our faith is genuine, it can be as ‘scary’ here as there. Four walls insulate us from that reality so much, I’m sorry to say. The truth is that it wasn’t scary for me when He left because God had, by His inner workings of the Spirit, prepared us for it already. I was happy for him to go and do what God called him to do. What better place to be, as they say, but in the will of God? God had shown me in many ways how He was with him and in the years to come, He would continue to show me.
Was there NEVER a time I wasn’t worried or frightened for him and our family there? Whether it was health or circumstances other than that, there have been times. But the promises of God are yes and amen, whether we are in good health or failing, whether we prosper or fail, whether we live or die…and that is the hope I always fall back on. God Is I Am. Do I grieve the times we have missed out on not having our son and family, our grandchildren! near to us? OH YES ! But we grieve in this life; there are many griefs much deeper than your children on foreign soil serving the Lord of our salvation.
And, now and then I remember him sharing this verse with me – Matt. 12:29 ” And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” He followed by saying, ” Mom… I think those promises are for those who let them go, too. ” That’s probably stretching that verse further than it was meant, but it is a sacrifice unto God that I gladly surrendered…a long time ago.
Sharing at Faith-filled Friday