Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parents: a major inhibitor to sending new missionaries

This blog may rub the wrong way - welcome to the genre. And I don't really want it to. I am the parent of two grown men and the grandfather of one precious boy. But, the fact remains that it is not unusual for young people being called into missions to face strong resistance from their own Christian parents.


The arguments often start with safety: after all we read many bad things about the world on a regular basis. Then there is the economic argument: missionaries don't make much and it takes a lot to raise a family these days. Or, it is the fear or reality of not having grandchildren close to home. In my experience, the greater the economic wealth of the family the more resistance there is to blessing adult children who choose to give their lives to Christian work, especially overseas. 


At the core of this resistance is the belief that the primary end of our lives is about economic stability, health, safety from all possible threats, the best opportunities for our children and the accumulation of enough wealth to cover the eventualities of life. That is why other successful individuals told my parents many years ago that they would be throwing their lives away if they went into foreign missions. 


So let me ask the obvious question. Is our highest goal to achieve the American dream or to follow the leading of Jesus wherever He chooses to lead us? Jesus answered that question definitively when in the Garden he rejected the alternatives and said, "Thy will be done." Abraham answered that question when he left the stability of Ur for Canaan. Paul answered that question when he followed Jesus to be the missionary to the very Gentiles he had hated. How have you answered that question and does it apply to your children and grandchildren as well?


Family is precious. God is more precious yet and he cares for our family in ways we never could. My "poor and deprived" upbringing in Hong Kong from the point of view of many back home was the richest existence I could have and the greatest contribution to God's plan for my life. God provided for our family in amazing ways.


If your children or grandchildren are called by God to difficult places, never get in the way of His call on their lives. And never confuse the highest goal of life with the American dream - or the dream of a good life. The good life and the best life is always found where Jesus is and where He calls us to be.

1 comment:

Drew and Rachel said...

Uncle Tim,
I meant to respond to this post when you first published it. I wanted to 'second' your opinion here -- our parents, (also the grandparents of our kids) have never guilted us or even subtly pressured us to return to the US. They have expressed how much they miss us, but more so emphasized their support and desire to see us follow where led! It has been an incredible, liberating gift to us. I trust your post has encouraged other parents/grandparents in this position to release their kids/grandkids to God's calling.