Modern Missionary Struggles... Part 1: Far From Family
¡ Hola, amigos !
On a recent trip to the Midwest, we participated in a special day-long 'Intercession for 2019' event (glorious!), and this bro came up to me, "the Lord wants me to pray for you this year... what can I be praying about on your behalf?"
Immediate answer: "... our being far from family, and having to deal with complex family issues long-distance... or getting a last-minute flight and red-eye-ing to where family are located"
Life in 2019 means that family are living all over the country... or all over the world... for everyone! This is true for so, SO many people we know. The days of the entire family living and working within a 50-mile circle have gone the way of the party-line telephone. We could unpack the WHY this reality... but it's true.
For missionaries who are serving the Lord OUTSIDE the 50-states-USA, this is especially true. Those of us who have responded to Jesus' call to GO (Isaiah 6, Matt 28) means that we... um, actually GO.
The last quarter-century of being 'missionaries serving abroad/foreign' has meant that we have family in every corner of the US map. Our daughters are in the Calif 'Bay area' and in central Texas, with our 4 grand-kids. Our remaining parents are in the 'Mid-west'. We have close family peppered all over the US.
This makes it tough to 'stay in touch', talk a few times a year, exchange greetings at holidays and birthdays, and even know what is going on in their lives. Then, BOOM! something BIG happens, like illness or tragedy, and WHOA, does life become really INTENSE.
Imagine standing in Mexico, on the phone (thank the LORD for cell phones and International calling plans!), finding out a loved one is seriously ill, just admitted to the hospital, in ICU, OR even 'nigh unto death'. Know that it's a 6-8 hr trip away from the US border, and you are wiped out from a hard week of mission-ministry. Consider how hard it is to quick-close-down living quarters and ministry center, get across the border (remember the 8 hr trip, thru 3 mountain ranges and 2 major Mexican cities?), and then you have to begin to work out finding a 5-hr flight that doesn't cost thousands of dollars, and get across the country in 48 hrs.
It is hard, hard, HARD serving the LORD and being far from family... and not seem that we've abandoned our family responsibilities, especially when the inevitable crisis comes up.
I would be amiss to not mention that over the last quarter century, the LORD has graciously guided and provided for us to get to 'where we need to be' in these family crisis. We have experienced a massive out-pouring of the generosity of God's people in providing flights, ground-transpo (airport pick-ups at 0-dark-30 are the worst), housing, and loving-kindness (God bless each and every one of you, and thank you JESUS!).
We also know that 'God did it then, and HE will do it again'.
However, it is hard, hard, HARD to serve as a 'cross-cultural missionaries abroad' AND be a responsible member of your family.
By the way, we have had this conversation with SO many who serve around the world. It is NO different for these wonderful servants of the Lord... sometimes with greater difficulty, as with our friends serving in the central African continent, where getting back to the USA can take days and thousands of dollars...
Lori and I would ask for a special 'reach up and pray for us' here in early 2019, as we are experiencing major 'family issues'... definitely, Lori needs a major amount of 'covering prayer'... and for us to be able and discern how to be family-connected, especially in crisis, while responsibly maintaining our mission-ministry commitments with our Mexican brothers and sisters.
¡ Hasta mañana, amigos !