“Why would anyone want to do that?”
“What do they actually DO?”
“Why would they go so far away from home?”
“How long will they be gone?”
The questions are endless, and most of the time I get excited for the chance to tell others about my missionary children. Other times I can be a little vague in my answers because some questions don’t have short answers–and the truth is, I’m not sure they really want to hear the whole story.
For those of you that are curious, I’m going to share a snippet of this life-changing journey so you can see a little of how something like this happens.
My husband felt like God was calling him into full-time ministry when he was in college (and before we were married), and so after college he attended Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. For almost 30 years he has pastored two Southern Baptist Churches: One in Texas and now in Illinois. “Southern Baptist” is a term that can be a little confusing, since we’re obviously not in the South, but we are a group of believers who partner together with over 45,000 churches to support almost ten thousand missionaries world-wide.
Our children, being “PK’s”, were obviously aware of missions, involved in missions, and sacrificed for missions. When our daughter, Emily came home one day (when she was around 9-10 years old) and said she believed that God wanted her to be a missionary some day–we diffused the situation (I confess–it was probably me!), and told her that because she was so young, she should just be willing to do whatever God asked her to do, and be “on mission” wherever she went.
Apparently, this happened again when she was in junior high, although I don’t remember the details. The point is, that because Emily had a genuine relationship with God, she was very in-tune to her mission in this world. She was witnessing on the playground in elementary school!
Before Emily finished high school, she began to express a strong desire to attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Liberty is a Christian University, and after applying and receiving a significant scholarship, we continued on our journey of “letting go”. Four years is too much to cover, but soon after graduating she married Jason, and off they went to Connecticut, where a job was waiting.
During this time in Connecticut they were actively involved in their church, and one night after hearing a missionary speak, Jason asked Emily, “What are we going to do now?” Knowing what he meant, she immediately replied, “We’re going to be missionaries!” They both knew (an incredible blessing) that God was calling them to surrender their life to be full-time, international missionaries.
It doesn’t happen over night, however, and so from there they moved to Ft. Worth, Texas, where Jason attending Southwestern Seminary and pursued a missions degree. They applied for a position with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and after a long process of applications and interviews, were chosen to join the team of missionaries working in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
What DO they actually do? They are in the country now and will spend the next eight months to a year learning the language, travelling to villages and studying the culture before choosing what region of this very impoverished nation to live in. Once they finish language school and training, and after much prayer and planning, they will relocate to a village where they will work to build relationships and minister and share the gospel.
Why so far away? Their goal is to live among one of the nine unengaged/unreached people groups of over 6 million people that have never had the opportunity to hear that there is a God who created them and has provided a way of salvation for them. Many of these live in difficult circumstances and are in desperate need of hope. God, in His sovereignty, chose to send a young couple from America to tell them the Good News.
Why would anyone want to do that? A dear friend and mentor that went to be with the Lord last year, Dr. Roy Fish, summed it up well…
How long will they be gone? This isn’t something you just jump into, or try for a while. This is a lifetime commitment. They will stay and invest their lives in the people of Madagascar. My future grandchildren will be born there and my sweet little blond-headed, fair-skinned Jane will grow up speaking two, maybe three languages!
And every penny I can save will be for airline tickets!