Sunday, January 29, 2012

Can Doing God's Work Screw up your Kids?

I can honestly say this is probably not something most Christians ever even wonder. I think most people I know would say of course not, how could that be possible? I bet if you ask a missionary though, you'd get a response like, "Well.............." If they were being honest anyway. Very few of us are ever put in a position of even thinking about this. We are never pushed to think perhaps there is even a chance of us doing something that might not be in the best interest of our children or even thinking God would ask us to do this.

This had been weighing on my mind a bit lately (more as to why in a bit) when I received an update from a missionary family our church supports. Within it was the following:

It was one of the harder letters I’d ever written. The gist of it was this: “Boarding isn’t working for your child, despite all the support you and we are offering.  You need to make a change.”

Let me clarify what a “change” implies: For a bush missionary whose child doesn’t “make it” at boarding school, almost everything about life must change. It may mean bringing that child back to the bush/village and homeschooling them, which may require one parent giving up part or all of his/her ministry. It may mean the family needs to move to a different location where the child can be a day student – giving up home, ministry, church, and friends. It may mean a return to the home country, giving up all the above as well as “Africa”. Whatever the cost, letters like mine are among those missionary parents hope never to get.

You can imagine, then, why this family’s humble and open response brought tears to my eyes. The gist of what they said was: “Thank you for sharing this. What should we do? We are praying for God’s wisdom and help in meeting our child’s needs.”
Seriously? I mean, I can't quite fathom having to wrangle with God on this. Here this family is doing what they believe God called them to do in the middle of stinking no where Africa for a people group they've been lead to, and it's wreaking havoc on their child. How could this not be screwing up their kid, and their family? Just think if they end up leaving and this kid knowing he/she is the reason their parents had to stop doing what they thought God wanted them to do. Holy smokes, that's heavy!

I had been thinking on this just a bit myself because I have been spending a decent amount of time organizing some missions opportunities for our church and I found myself telling my little boys, "no I can't play right now because I have to get this trip organized and some information out tonight!" I immediately felt bad about it, but then told myself this is what God has asked me to do right now, surely it won't hurt my kid's feelings too bad. Will it?

Please don't think I'm at all comparing my few Sunday afternoon and evenings of short term missions planning instead of tossing the football in the yard or playing the Xbox for the umpteenth time with my boys anywhere near this families struggle. It just got me thinking as both events occurred within the same week and as I dive more into short term missions, orphan/adoption advocacy, another adoption, and other generally "Godly" endeavors on top of my regular work a day life.

I don't have any answers other than God has my family and this missionary family in His hands and His grace is so overflowing that it will be ok, I hope, it will, right? So how does one balance God's callings and kids?

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