How long does my child need to be on the mission field? Will they be able to call me in a foreign country? Should I be supportive of them? How are my children going to raise enough funds to become the missionaries they want to be? Don’t they need to get married first? Are my grandchildren going to be safe?
Why does my child feel called to become a missionary and I don’t?
As parents, one of the hardest and best things you will ever do in your life is letting go and trusting God with your children. This blog post will address some frequently asked questions like these while also sharing advice and encouragement from parents who have had children go overseas as missionaries.
Seven Questions Parents Often Ask:
1. Is Everyone Called to Go Overseas as a Missionary?
Everyone is called to do missions–but not everyone is called to be a missionary overseas. Your child may be called to pursue other careers such as becoming a neurosurgeon, chiropractor, or a CEO of their own company. If everybody went overseas, there would be no one to send them. Recognize your child’s passions by encouraging them in their dreams and being supportive. Find books, resources, and people who are Godly examples of what it means to live and work for God’s glory in those fields. Seek to teach your children how to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey the Lord’s calling on their lives. If you encourage your kids to be delight-directed in their passions and dreams while also supporting them through their failures and mistakes, they are going to be well rounded in every area of life.
“It’s not a matter of world missions or home missions but submission to His will.”
— Dr. David Cummins
2. Can My Student Get a Job and Earn Money With a Missionary Degree?
Nearly all employers today are looking for someone who has a college degree and experience in the field they are going into. While not all missionary degrees or service related jobs can effectively support your student’s work as a missionary, college degrees are a gateway for your student to get into countries that aren’t openly receptive to missionaries. Your student can make a long-term impact by going as an English teacher or starting their own business in another country.
Encourage your student to be purposeful in getting a job that they enjoy doing. Going into another country with a skill or college degree can build bridges across cultural barriers and will give them the possibility to disciple locals through their work. Not only will they get to do a job that they love, but they’ll be able to share the gospel with those they work with. Others use their missionary degree to serve people while using a portion of their funds to support organizations all over the world. Whether your child gets a missionary degree or not, they can bring the gospel to where it is not through a variety of jobs and businesses all over the world.
3. Why Should I Encourage My Children to Pursue a Career in Missions?
“You’re not trying to prove something to God or earn His approval by going to the mission field. It’s out of your deep love for Him and the abundance of gratitude that you say, “I would love to tell other people who have never heard about this great thing I have got going with You!”
– Carol Freeman, BGU Campus Pastor, wife, and mom of five children with fifteen years of cross-cultural missions experience.
Encouraging your children to go into missions provides them an opportunity to ask the question, “how can I share God’s love to the lost people in my own city before I go overseas?” Missions doesn’t always mean that each of your children needs to go overseas. You can encourage your children to pursue a career in missions by shaping their perspective into a mission-mindset through serving. How you raise your kids now is going to make a lasting impact on their lives in years to come.
Parents, the best gift you can give to your children is your love and encouragement in missions. This an amazing opportunity for them to serve with a purpose, and to show the hungry and hopeless how valued they are in the eyes of God. You can give your children the experience of a lifetime by encouraging them to start serving now.
When you encourage your children to serve with a purpose, you are nurturing their hearts to become more compassionate and tender towards those who are in need of having God as their personal Lord and Savior. You may or may not be raising up future missionaries or Billy Grahams–but more importantly, you are encouraging them to live a purpose-driven life where their passion is to see people changed by their time seeking after the Lord.
4. How is My Child Going to Support Themselves and Their Future Family?
Many missionaries have been raising support from families and friends for centuries. While fundraising could enable your child to be effective in their work overseas long-term, there have been many missionaries who have had to come off of the field because they didn’t receive enough support. While fundraising works, there are many other ways for your child to save money and support their family on the mission field.
- Get a job
- Start a business
- Live simply
- Rent a house or an apartment with another missionary couple
- Walk or use public transportation
God has called each of us to be good stewards of the money and wealth that He’s given to us. By teaching your children how to be mission-minded and to live simply, you are not only challenging the way they view the world and money, but you are waging war against the standards of living the American dream.
5. Is Missionary Work Safe?
There are a variety of places around the world that are in need of missionaries that are relatively safe, but there are also many more that are less safe than life in a western world. Both desperately need messengers to bring the good news to them. At Bethany Global University, we take great precautions to evaluate the safety of every Global Internship site for our students. Each site carries different risks and it is our hope that many would some day take the Church to the hardest and darkest places that have had no chance to learn of Christ. Ultimately, the safest place is to stay in the center of God’s will, wherever that may lead us.
While He is the only one who can keep them safe, you can still teach your children how to take precautions and make wise decisions while being self-aware of the dangers of living in a foreign country.
“We have talked in depth about how God is with you wherever you are. We’ve taught you how to be wise, to be aware of your surroundings, and to listen to the Holy Spirit. And even if something bad happens to you, God is with you. He is here even when we cannot be anymore. Though I still have fears for your life and your future, I also have a peace knowing that God will be with you wherever you are and that He lives inside you. As you leave and my prayers increase for you, I know that I can trust God with all of our lives. Thankful for the hope found only in Him.”
– Scarlett Von Gunten, wife, entrepreneur, and mom of seven–including me.
6. Can I Trust God With My Children?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
Parents, the Lord has placed a strong calling on your life to trust Him with your children. While the Lord has also given you the responsibility of raising, loving, training, disciplining, and watching out for the safety of your children, you can’t always live in the fear of the unknown. It’s better to trust Him with your children than it is yourself.
Ask yourself, “Is this what the Lord has for them? Is this going to prepare them to go do what He has called them to do?” You’re not alone in your questions. Ask God to help you trust Him. If you’re unwilling to embrace the change, you won’t have the privilege of seeing the fruit He produces in your children’s lives. Only He can change your anxious and worrying heart–if you’re willing to let go and trust Him. He will patiently and lovingly listen to your fears while bringing that insurmountable peace to your heart. Let go and rely on Him for strength, trusting that He is with each of your children always, even when you can’t.
“God definitely works that trust in my heart. As I grow in my relationship with Him, He helps me realize that He loves you even more than I do. I’m realistic that something could happen to you and I trust Him that He’s with you and watching over you.”
– Scarlett Von Gunten
7. Will I See My Grandchildren Again? Will They Know Me?
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9
Your children may one day get married and have children of their own on the mission field. Once in a while, they’ll come home on furlough and stay with you because they have nowhere else to go. You may be seeing a lot more of your family than you thought. Though this is not always the case, as many missionaries rent a house instead or stay with the missions organization that sent them onto the field.
However, this is the perfect opportunity to spend time with your grandchildren and let your child and their spouse rest. Teach your grandchildren how to go fishing, or play a board game, or how to cook and bake. Treasure these moments and make new memories with them because the next time you blink, they’ll be having families of their own. Trusting God with your children and grandchildren can give Him glory and He is then able to use their stories to impact lives for the furthering of His Kingdom.
The Blessings of Supporting Your Children in Missions
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
– Psalms 127:3-5
One of the best gifts God has given to me is my parents; the best gift I can give them is to be obedient to the Lord and to pursue His calling on my life. Even as a young adult, God has placed a strong calling on my life to honor and respect my parents even when they aren’t in the room. I am so grateful for their love and encouragement and for how God has been working in their hearts over the past twenty-one years to trust Him with me. They have never hindered me from following God’s calling on my life and instead have always given me wise advice that is precious and close to my heart. I am so thankful for the way they’ve raised me, and one of the ways I can honor them is to listen to their wisdom from their time seeking after the Lord and living it out in my own life as I also devote myself to Him.
God has richly blessed me by giving me supportive parents, and He can use you in this way as well to be a blessing your children. I am praying that as you and your spouse raise up your kids to follow Christ that one day they will look back and see that because of your commitment to the Lord in those small moments, your family has been able to stick together through the joyful seasons and the hard seasons. That no matter what the day brought, you fell on your knees to cry out to the Lord and praise Him for His faithfulness while thanking Him for the family He gave you.
“Train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
– Proverbs 22:6
I am praying that one day, they are going to look back and remember you praying over them every night, that you were the one who taught them about the different countries on the map. That you were the one who bought the books on missionaries and found mission conferences to go to. That one day, they’ll look back and see that you are their Godly example of what it looks like to daily practice following God’s will in every area of their life.
You are the difference you want to see in your children’s lives. You are the legacy-builders, the world-shapers, the dreamers, and the life-givers. By trusting the Lord with your children and being supportive of their passions and dreams, you have the honor of watching God move in your children’s lives to impact the world for His Kingdom.