I ached for my daughter as we rode home from school in the car and she shared what one of the girls at school had said and done to her that day. I was angry, but I also wondered how I could help my daughter deal with the emotional and psychological pain. I tried to comfort her with the fact that God would hold the girl accountable for her actions, but my daughter interrupted my ‘comforting comments’ with an exclamation. I looked over at her and saw the tears pouring down her face on behalf of this ‘friend’ at school as she said, “Mom, I don’t want her to have to stand before God for this. I want her to be forgiven by Him!” What a rebuke to me for my inner anger at this non-Christian’s treatment of my daughter! I wish I had had that kind of spiritual sensitivity and maturity when I was only 13 years old!
My husband and I have been global workers for twenty-plus years now and have served the Lord in a variety of capacities on three different continents. God has blessed us with three daughters, and I am amazed at how well they have handled the situations and circumstances to which we as global workers have exposed them! Being an MK myself, God showed me His grace when I did not handle those circumstances well, and so I am sensitive to the reality of those particular pressures. I wish I had responded obediently to God’s leading the way my girls have done in their lives!
Often, when I hear people talking about going into missions, they express concern for their children and how this decision will impact them. It is a legitimate and wise concern, but one I would hasten to allay by assuring them that God IS sovereign. He knows, not only what the parents are capable of in their ministry, but also what the children can handle. He uses all their experiences to ‘grow them up in Him’ to be all that He wants them to be. While that statement may sound trite and even simplistic, its truth resounds in numerous instances in the lives of my daughters and other MKs around the world. I thank God for all the MKs who are willing to let God empower them to be all that HE created them to be!
Now, before you misunderstand me, I am NOT saying that these challenges or pressures are bad. As I have taught my girls, ‘Hard is not the same as bad.’ On the contrary, let me say this: I believe that when God calls parents to be global workers, He calls their children to be global worker kids! That is, He does not call the children to be the global workers, or to do their parents’ ministry, but He faithfully enables and empowers the children to live (and thrive) in whatever circumstances their parents’ ministry might place them. I have seen God show Himself faithful in this way in my daughters’ lives over and over again. God has blessed others through them in a variety of ways that have often left me amazed and very humbled! I wish I had allowed God to use me as an MK in the way He has been able to use my daughters!
During one home assignment we lived in a part of the United States where the culture shock they experienced was greater than any they experienced overseas—even though they had lived on three different continents by that time. At school one day, one young man asked Andrea why she was always so happy (even though at home we knew the hurt she was struggling with inside), and her answer was, “Happiness is a choice. I choose to be happy!” I wish I had made that choice when I was 15 years old—and miserable!
At the tender age of eight, Leanne had the opportunity to be Jesus’ comfort to a classmate. Her friend’s father was killed in a car accident, leaving her alone in a Middle Eastern country until her mother could fly in from Australia. We brought her into our home, and our daughter spent 48 hours holding her friend’s hand and showing Jesus’ love in tangible ways. At night, when the fears and tears could have overwhelmed them both, I heard my daughter say, “I usually pray to Jesus before I go to sleep and then I listen to a Bible story tape. Can we do that tonight?” The simple faith of a child… Our daughter was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted at the end of that time of ministry, but she learned some incredibly valuable lessons about ministry and replenishment after ministry through that experience! That is a lesson I could have used years ago!
When, as a mother concerned for my youngest daughter Pam’s growth, I questioned her about some of her choices for friends, she answered me quite succinctly, “Mom, if I am not a friend to them, they won’t have any friends.” God has truly gifted her with a ‘heart for the hurting’ such that she puts aside her own desires for acceptance and being in the inner circle at school, in order to befriend those deemed ‘uncool.’ As I watch her grow and mature I am amazed at the ministry God opens up for her amongst her peers, and my fears and concerns for her own development melt away as I see God working in and through her. Wish that I had had that kind of maturity and self-confidence when I was a teenager!
In the past couple of months, I have seen all three of my daughters take a courageous step to allow God’s working to continue in their ‘adult’ lives. As I have watched each one of them take a step of faith in God in a specific area of their life, I see clearly how they are continuing to trust Him to care for and empower them to be all that He wants them to be. It has also reminded me of the many wonderfully creative ways that God has led, blessed, and used our daughters for His own glory and honor. I am incredibly humbled at how God has blessed and nurtured my three daughters!
That is why, when I look at how they are dealing with life, when I see the courage they display, when I see the faith their actions represent, I wonder if I will ever grow up…in comparison to them. Now, I know we are not supposed to compare…BUT if I could just have my oldest daughter’s courage and creativity, if I could just have my middle daughter’s faithfulness and commitment, if I could just have my youngest daughter’s security and self-confidence…I think I would be a GREAT grown-up! Yup, I want to be just like my kids when I grow up!