Thank goodness for Skype!
23 Dec 2019
When we left for Papua New Guinea many years ago Skype didn’t exist. In fact, we couldn’t even talk by telephone to family back in Australia and mail came very irregularly. We had little idea what our parents felt and how much they missed our children. But we know all too well now, for we are the parents of a daughter, son-in-law and four beautiful grandchildren almost as far away from us as they could possibly be in West Africa. Hence our constant refrain, “Thank goodness for Skype!”
“A seismic shift occurs in the landscape of the heart of a mother (and father) whose child senses God’s calling to be a missionary. The announcement of this decision creates a displacement of emotions. Thoughts of being thousands of miles apart bring into sudden existence large gaps between pain and pride; between feelings of intense love and deep loss; between apprehension of what is ahead and anticipation of what God will do.” . Compared to missionary parents long ago, we have every reason to be thankful for how much we can communicate with our children. But no matter the generation, missionary parents, we’re sure, go through the same emotions: pride that their children are willing to count the cost especially in terms of what it means for their own children. We wonder often what they are doing. Are they well; are they getting the right support in prayer; are they getting enough good food; are they safe; are they coping with all that their new life is throwing at them? Will the bleach that they need to soak fresh vegetables and fruit in, or the malaria tablets they take weekly, bring long term health problems? The constant extreme heat and dust must take its toll. And then there are the grandchildren. How are they coping? There are very few places to go and just enjoy being themselves out of the house. The girls are never even able to walk outside by themselves; they have to wear long skirts when they would love to be wearing shorts. They miss friends, constantly saying goodbye to new friends they have made on the field. At the missionary school they attend, the following is written on one of the walls: “You will never be completely home again because parts of your hearts will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place” (Miriam Adeney).
We COULD list all the things that we COULD worry about, but how blessed are we to know the same God whom they are serving. We know that the One they are serving is worth their sacrifice and ours, too. To know that God is in charge; to know that any time we are tempted to worry about something we can take it to the Lord in prayer; to know that He hears and understands; to know that He is blessing them in ways we sometimes fail to see; to know that He is shaping their lives in ways far beyond what we can imagine; to know that He loves them even more than we do – even to the point of sacrificing His only Son for their sake.
We are not naïve. We know and understand that knowing and serving God does not equal safety, or a life free from difficulty and hardship. Theirs is not a “romantic spiritual journey but an everyday battle between the forces of darkness and light.” . Parents of missionaries, despite their very mixed emotions, can be sure that the path that we as parents are now walking is part of “an eternal, grand narrative of God using people as vessels to make His name known in all the earth. Their story is part of the mission of God.” . Is that worth the cost? We believe so.
– Bob, an MK’s parent (and now grandparent).
Is God calling you to join the mission field? Get in touch.