When God called my son and his wife to long-term missions overseas I became a parent of a missionary which was both amazing and daunting.
Amazing to think that my son would be used by God in this way.
But also daunting as I wasn’t part of a missionary family. I had no experience of this and no knowledge of how it worked.
So Many Questions
How would they live, learn the language, get support and manage the new culture? Would I ever see them again?
How should I answer questions from non-Christian family members?
So many questions but where could I get answers?
OMF national conferences and especially days for missionaries’ parents provided lots of information and gave me people to talk to. There would be people to steer them through all the things they needed to know and do but I needed to work out how I could best learn to live with this, and how to answer the many questions from family.
At the conferences I met two other first-time parents of missionaries– it was great to be able to help each other through the process of letting go of our children, facing the unknown, talking to our families, particularly as we were all at different stages.
A Part of God’s Plan
Emotional goodbyes were followed by a huge sense of loss but also an awesome sense of their being part of God’s plan for the world. But surely that applied to me too – how could I be part of God’s mission, not just wave them off and sit around missing them?
How could I be part of God’s mission, not just wave them off and sit around missing them?
Chatting about this with my new-found-friends as well as experienced missionaries, I discovered there was a lot I could do. By learning about the country they were going to I could better understand their experiences, use Skype to keep in touch regularly, plan to visit in due course and above all I could continue to pray.
Then parents’ days were no more, and national conferences stopped – a big loss as there was no easy route to connect with other missionary families. The other two mothers and I became our own support network, keeping in touch by email, phone calls and meeting up once a year. Their support is invaluable particularly when our children run into difficult times.
It’s hard to talk about the unique challenges our children face to our own families or other friends as they don’t share our understanding of God’s plan for the world. Rather, they wonder why your child doesn’t just come home when the going gets tough. It’s hard as a parent to have your child so far away and be unable to be physically there for them in times of need. I haven’t stopped missing them, but I have learned that to pray for them earnestly is a blessing for them and for me.
It’s hard to talk about the unique challenges our children face to our own families or other friends.
The Grandchildren Dimension
The arrival of my grandchildren introduced a new dimension and added to issues that my daughter (not a Christian and still in the UK) was struggling with. Now she had a niece and a nephew that she would never really get to know. As a member of a very small family, she feels that the God she doesn’t believe in has deprived her of them, and that her brother could choose to come home. I have found this difficult to deal with, and again it has helped hugely to talk this through with my support friends.
Three visits to Japan have helped me to understand more about their life, and the spiritual needs of the nation, and so to pray in a more informed way. It’s given me a love for the country, too. God has also led me to get more involved in mission myself through volunteering with OMF here in the UK.
I am still learning to let go and trust my children/grandchildren fully to his entirely trustworthy arms.
Lis, UK parent of OMF worker.
Will you pray for Workers in the Harvest Field?
Pray for missionary parents for:
- Wisdom to know how to answer questions from non-Christian family members
- God to supply friends in a similar situation for support
- Grasping something of God’s vision for the country your child has gone to