We Choose to Hand Her Back to God

Posted on: January 06, 2015 Written by
We Choose to Hand Her Back to God
Photography by: KatarinaGondova from iStock          

Our daughter moved to the other side of the world this past month. She is 27 years old. She is single. She is now living in a Third-World country doing Muslim ministry and fulfilling a very large dream that she has had for many years: bringing Jesus to an unreached people group.

As parents, my husband and I have often been asked, “How can you let her go? How can you stand to see your daughter in those conditions? How can you send her off knowing the dangers of the culture in which she will be living—and how can you let her go ALONE?”

Recently, when SEND International staff talked to my husband about the process of “letting go,” he responded, “Who would do differently if she is in God’s will? I prayed that at least one (of my kids) would go into cross-cultural work. We serve an awesome God. I wouldn’t dare be out of His will.”

So…how DO you let go? How do you watch one whom you have loved, nurtured, and spent so many years protecting, walk into a powder-keg of a world knowing that even the name of Jesus on her lips is enough to put her in harm’s way?

You don’t.

It is not about letting go. It is about handing back. If it was about letting go, I doubt if there is a parent on earth that could do it. However, when it is about handing back, then it is about putting the hand of your beloved child into the hand of your beloved Father. That is not letting go. That is holding on TIGHT. Holding on to faith. Holding on to truth. Holding on to the knowledge that God is more capable of loving her and caring for her than you could ever hope to be. Holding on to the hope that there will be others in heaven someday because you were willing to hand back one of your most precious treasures.

When our daughter graduated from college with an INTERNATIONAL Ministries degree, we knew that she would not be staying home. We were not prepared, though, for her to be offered a position in Cairo, Egypt, right out of school. While my husband saw the advantages of the job offer, this mother could only see the “what-ifs” of sending a young, single, American woman to, of all places, a Middle Eastern culture.

I remember one night in particular that my husband and I took a walk to discuss the decision our 22-year-old daughter was facing. As he spoke in glowing terms about the “wonderful opportunity” that the Lord seemed to be offering her, I stopped in mid-stride, glared at him, and said, “Will you STOP pushing this at her?! It is HER decision to make. Why do you keep talking about it in such a glowing way?! I DON’T WANT HER TO GO THERE!”

My husband looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Believe me, I understand how you feel. But why would we want to stop God’s leading in her life? We have always prayed that He would use our children for the kingdom.” In that moment, and together, we chose to hand her back.

And she chose to go.

Our daughter was in Egypt during the 2011 revolution. We spoke to her on the phone as looting was going on in the streets below her. We heard the gunshots, and we experienced the racing hearts of parents who had no control. At the same time, we also prayed with her, quoted verses, and witnessed the strength, faith, and courage of this woman whom God was shaping into the one who left last month to serve Him long-term. God knew what He was doing. The only place that could prepare her for what she is doing now was Cairo. We have found that, while He was shaping her for her future, He was also lovingly shaping us. We filed that experience away in our “faith file” and we pull it out even now on the days that we struggle. Those days come—but He has proven faithful.

Recently I read an article by a secular columnist in which she described overseas cross-cultural work as “Christian narcissism.” She went on to say, “American Christians go on missions trips to disease-ridden cesspools because they are tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., so they slink off to Third-World countries, away from American culture, to do good works.” This columnist does not know our daughter. If she did, she would know a committed follower of Jesus Christ with a passion for people and a desire to be obedient to her Savior. There is no slinking in our daughter’s posture. More accurately, she has resolutely set her face toward the kingdom.

This past week we talked to her on Skype in her new location. She had two fans blowing on her because it was so hot. She was telling us about her war with the cockroaches in her new home—but she was smiling, and she was content. And she was glowing as she recounted the story of two Muslim women who had just accepted Christ.

Our children do not belong to us, folks. They never have. We need to hand them back.


©2015 Thrive.

Question to consider: How have your parents been helpful in your journey as a Global Woman?

About the author

John Bunyan's classic, Pilgrim's Progress, is a long time favorite of mine. I could describe myself as a wife, mother, foster mother, grandmother, writer, reader, photographer, along with many other descriptive labels. But when it comes right down to it, I'm a pilgrim on a journey to the celestial city. This world is not my home. My name is Christian. And as I travel through this present world, I hope to round up a few more souls who are willing to take this journey with me.

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  • felistas

    i think if my late parents were living i could thank them for giving birth to me

  • Paula Roberts

    Your words grabbed me, though it’s the opposite for us. We’re on the field, and our kids are back in the States. Thank you for reflecting God’s Truths in your article.

  • Paulette Bowers

    the last line says it all. Our children were loaned to us to raise. They were never ours to own. They are God’s children.

  • Elly Streeter

    Yes, our children are a gift from the Lord. My husband and I have been in the same situation. As we prayed for our daughter’s decision to go overseas to serve the Lord in a potentially unsafe area of the world, God spoke to our hearts impressing on us that there is no more safe place for our daughter to be than in the center of God’s will for her life.

  • judy evans

    As a missionary and mom of MK’s who have grown up to now themselves take the Gospel to the dangerous places (with my grandkids!), I find this article incredibly touching. I wish every mom releasing her child to go, could read this. God bless.

  • Deborah Ayres

    Thank you! All parents need to let go if their kids are following the Lord.(Many don’t!) I heard a great illustration of this: When you cross the street with you toddler you hold hands and talk about looking for cars. When they get older you can cross without holding on, then you can stay on one side and just watch, and then you can let them go alone. Is it terrifying? YES! But if you’ve done your part in the beginning you can “let go.”

  • Deborah Ayres

    oops- I fixed the incorrect email.

  • Deborah Ayres

    Thanks! All parents need to let go if they are following the Lord. (Many don’t!) I heard a great illustration about this: When crossing the street with your toddler you hold hands and talk about watching for cars. When they are older you don’t have to hold on. Then later you can watch from one side of the street. Then you can let them go alone. If you have done your part you can “let go.”

  • Felicia S.

    Thank you so much for writing this article about handing back your adult daughter. There is so much information for parents on how to raise children as they grow up, but rarely do I see an article written for those of us who have children who are growing “out” to do God’s will on their own.
    Empty nesting is not for the faint of heart, we need support and encouragement too. A friend sent me this article at just the right time (God’s time), and I just wanted to thank you for your words.

  • I first went overseas as a career missionary at age 19. My husband and I were both young and inexperienced. Years later I overheard someone asking my dad, “Wasn’t it hard for you to let Sherri go so far away when she was so young?” I’ll never forget my father’s answer for which I am deeply grateful. He replied, “The day she went forward in church when she was 13 and said she was willing to go, I let her go that day.” Surely there is a reward in heaven for parents who entrust Him with their children. It is true that we just give them back to Him. So glad my parents never tried to hinder me in the Lord’s work.

  • anonymousmom

    I can so identify with you, except that our daughter is 25 and in India. When we took her to the airport, I maintained a stiff upper lip, until I left the embrace and watched her walk through security. Then I lost it. But, like you, I wouldn’t have her any other place on the face of the earth, because she is where she was designed by God to be. And we will soon be heading to a Muslim country ourselves, a different context than we have worked in before. It was good for us to be here in the States to send her off, and for us to feel that pain. Because now we know what our son will feel when we leave. Hello’s and Goodbye’s. Both painful. Thankful for the Holy Spirit who provides comfort to our hearts!