“He’s in Africa! Boy I hope he doesn’t choose that as a career! He’ll be poor for the rest of his life.” I once heard a parent say. A young person had given a segment of his year to experience missions in Africa. His dad was a successful businessman and was telling him this was a good experience for now but it wasn’t appropriate as a career.
This saddened me and it still does today. This young man is now a successful business man but I can’t help but wonder if his heart longs for more. Where would he be and what would he be doing had his father encouraged him towards the mission field?
Being the parent of someone called to missions can be terrifying. These fears are not from God. Many times God has said to us in His Word, “Do not fear.”
When I was in high school I felt a call to missions. At the time I assumed that this meant I’d be off on the mission field somewhere. This hasn’t turned out to be the case for me so far. My parents had their own fears about this when I was younger. My mother can tell you that she cried all the way home when she left me at college saying I’d never come back home. And, she was partially right. Each summer I dedicated my time to Christian ministry in one place or another learning all I could take in. Some summers I only learned what I DON’T want to be like in ministry.
Each time I left on an international team my mom was worried something would happen to me. What I have learned in the world travel I’ve done throughout the years is that I’m far safer in most places around the world than I am on American soil! Yes, that’s right! RIGHT here is much more dangerous than even many Muslim countries. In many Muslim countries you’ll get your entire hand cut off for stealing. In Nigeria I once dropped my sun glasses. I was shocked that a small child living in poverty brought them to me. This child could have sold my glasses for money to feed himself and his family, but he brought them back to me and I was grateful.
Many people around the world feel honored that we will visit their land. Some greet us in song; others shout out, “You are welcome!” I once visited a village where a small child had never seen a white person. We all found it amusing the child was afraid of me!
I have had far worse things happen to me here at home than while traveling on mission overseas. This is not to say that there’s no danger overseas. I just think we are afraid of what we do not understand. Ignorance really isn’t bliss is it?
Should we only share the Gospel message where it’s safe to go? Do we really think our children belong to us? They are God’s first and foremost. God has a plan for their lives and if we get in the “way”, yes, I’m going to be BOLD here and say it: We are sinning. Anytime we are preventing someone from doing the will of God we are sinning. Isn’t that the work of the enemy? Yes, the enemy will do whatever it takes to veer our children off task. Lord Jesus, help us not to be on the enemy’s team because of our fear!
The best parents encourage their children towards whatever their passion might be. This is a mark of unconditional love. This is probably the greatest gift my parents ever gave me: the freedom to pursue what I choose and they were my biggest cheerleaders! Parents who steer their children towards a career that’s not the choice of the child are holding their children hostage. ALL children want their parent’s blessing. When it’s not given to us we cannot achieve our greatest goal.
A local serviceman came to my home and as he worked we chatted about the community, friends and family. He expressed that he has one son that has learned his trade and another who isn’t interested in it at all. He expressed grief over the son that wasn’t interest in his profession. I could tell his son that works with him has his blessing but the other son does not. We shouldn’t feel that we have parented improperly because one child chooses to like what we like and another doesn’t. All people are programmed differently and have different gifts. We need to be celebrating this in each child and helping them along the way of whatever career path they choose, whether this is one we chose or one that terrifies us.
My mother once said to someone, “Don’t pray for the missionaries! They’re FINE!! PRAY FOR THEIR PARENTS!”