My family opposes the idea

10 Jul 2019

Reasons not to go No.2

‘A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.’ (Proverbs 10:1).

“If you want to go with this ministry thing, that’s fine,” said my dad, “I have other sons who will listen to me. I don’t need you to be my son.” My brothers were both studying medicine like my father did. Considering full-time Bible teaching work, I was the black sheep of the family! I was throwing away my life.

During my first year in East Asia, my mum sent over a birthday card. It read: “Dear Leo*, I hope what you’re doing over there is fulfilling. As you know, I find it hard to see the point. Love Mum.” Mum knew all the downsides of overseas Christian service – the risks, the distance from family – but as someone far from God, she could see none of the benefits.

We had similar experiences with my wife Paige’s parents, who also don’t believe in Jesus. Before we left for East Asia, Paige’s mother pleaded, “If you go, there will be nobody nearby to call me ‘mum’.” She was heartbroken.  

In East Asia, listening to your parents is important. People asked us, “Do your parents support you coming here?” We could only say, “They accept it.”

We listened. I realised that one of my dad’s main concerns was that he thought I was taking the “lazy way out”, avoiding the rigours of medicine. I assured him that I did not want to be lazy in serving God, but rather I was prepared to give my all. He replied, “OK, well, in that case, I want you to be a world-class minister. I want you to be the best in your field.” Whether or not I live up to his aspirations is up to God, but we have at least some common ground. Today, when he meets patients who are also in Bible teaching or cross-cultural ministry, he even helps to connect us with them.

We connected. While in East Asia, every Saturday morning has been devoted to a line-up of family video chats. We’ve sent over gigabytes of photos and videos of our kids so that each day our family can see how they grow. Paige’s mum even came to visit for a month and felt the Spirit moving in her heart as she met our friends in East Asia and connected with our life there.

We thrived. Although he never said it, my dad was obviously relieved when all of our financial support had come through, and it was enough to live on. Paige’s mum was relieved when we showed her the street-scape of our city on the field; it wasn’t as run-down or chaotic as she had feared.

And we still pray. My mum still doesn’t have much positive to say about our work amongst the unreached. She still talks accusingly about the risk we run of catching a disease. But she can see that we love her. And that Jesus matters to us.

-L & P, Pioneers workers serving in East Asia.

*Names changed for privacy.

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