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