My husband and I dedicated our baby girl to the Lord on Mother’s Day, 1989, but did I really know what that was going to entail one day? Hannah dedicated Samuel to God, and Mary even went to the temple to dedicate Jesus, so it must have been what a mother was supposed to do, right? Fast forward about 20 years and we hear this: “Mom and Dad, God is calling me to the foreign mission field, for sure.” I had expected to hear this, considering she had been on mission trips every year during high school and college during spring break and she seemed to come back more and more passionate about missions each year. One time after a trip during college, she was even ready to sell her car when she got home. She wanted to donate the money to the medical missionaries she had worked with, so they could buy an ambulance. Of course, we reminded her that she really needed a means of transportation as long as she was in college, so we encouraged her to wait on that.
All of our daughter’s mission trips had been in Central American countries (with the exception of one in Scotland), and she was minoring in Spanish in college. Surely she wouldn’t be too far away, maybe even in the United States, since there were so many Spanish speaking people here. It was evident this was her passion; her heart was in it. So, we supported her in her calling, praying that God take care of her. Still, did I really know what that was going to entail, one day? I grew up reading about missionaries like Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong and Hudson Taylor, and I was always so intrigued by their stories. I truly was excited that she felt this calling, but, I was also prideful in my thinking: “My daughter is going to the mission field.”
She met a wonderful Christian young man during her senior year of college when he spoke at their church about his recent mission trip to Chad, Africa as well as his passion for missions. I still remember her phone call to me that night. “Mom, tonight, I met the man I’m going to marry!” We met this young man a few weeks later, and our prayer was: “If this is the man for her, God, please make that clear. We ask for your will, Father.” After all, her dad had told her that if she was going on the foreign mission field, she needed a husband first! So, they did get married, and I could definitely see that they were on fire for missions together. However, during their engagement period, they began mentioning countries in Asia. “Okay, Lord, so what is going on here? Yes, I gave her to you as a baby, and I want her to follow your call, but Asia? That’s the other side of the world.” Well, needless to say, Jesus and I had many talks and even a “come to Jesus meeting” as they say, before I could truly say I completely supported their decision to serve in Asia.
Fast forward one more time to March of 2013: we are at the airport seeing our little girl (who is now 24 years old) and her husband (of one year) board an airplane for their assignment in East Asia. My heart was overflowing with so many different emotions, and those same emotions after five years still surface at the thought of them. I laugh and I cry. I get angry and I get sad. I am envious when I see my friends here at home who get to see their children and grandchildren regularly, but I am also happy for them to be able to have those opportunities. Yes, I struggle daily, but with complete and humble honesty, I can say that God has been with me during this whole process. He gives me strength, patience and endurance, so that I can truly say, “God, she is yours. Use her however you choose.” We are so blessed in this modern world to have the technological means to communicate almost daily, even if it’s only a text message or an email. And, we can see her face and hear her voice via Skype and FaceTime. We are also blessed to be able to actually go there and visit them occasionally—to actually hug them in person! We can be a part of their mission work here at home by taking care of things for them, providing them and their team members with supplies and, most importantly, praying for them, daily. As I was reading Romans 8 just this morning, two verses really jumped out at me. Verse 28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Verse 31 says: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” He is with us here and abroad. In Him, we can do all things—even give up our children to be used to further His kingdom on earth!
P.S. Of course, don’t even get me started on my grandchildren that over there…that is a story for another day!