One of the most difficult things about answering God’s call to live and serve Him in a country and culture that is not your own — is making your kids go with you.
The older they are—the more difficult this gets.
I’ve known all along—since returning to the States at the beginning of 2020, after five years of serving as a missionary family in Asia—that the longer we stayed in Texas, the more friendships my children would form, the more roots they would put down, and the harder it would be to leave. This has been especially true for my oldest son (age 12), Hudson, who found a special place and special group of friends at his school (UME Prep Duncanville). He’s been really looking forward to his first year on the middle school campus. And now it’s time to leave for Singapore. Last night, right before bed, he said, “I bet next year could have been my best school year ever.”
This is one of the reasons he and I went on a date today. Here is what the Lord laid on my heart to share with my son—and with anyone out there who sees their surrounding situation as proof that God must not care for them or has forgotten them:
2 Kings 6:14-17
Then the King of Aram sent horses and chariots and a strong force to the city of Dothan. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.
“Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”
Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
When you find yourself, like my son, feeling surrounded by an army of doubts, fears, or missed opportunities, look beyond those forces and focus on the goodness of God. His goodness is immeasurable, His love everlasting, and His plans are for victory and blessing—for you and those your life impacts. This is not just wishful thinking. My son has walked paths in the mountains of an ancient civilization that none in his school and few in our country have walked. He has shared meals in dark wooden houses over crackling fires as we shared the good news of God’s love with farming families who had never heard the name of Jesus. He has spent hours in an orphanage playing, holding, feeding, and loving on abandoned and broken children whose smiles have been forever etched on our hearts. He is learning to speak in a new language that over one billion others speak around the planet every day. He has swum down rivers, hiked trails, and eaten foods that are so far off the beaten path, I’m not even sure we could find them again. Most important of all, he has met and made friends with people (Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, agnostics, and atheists) from at least two dozen different countries whose paths crossed ours for a time but changed us forever.
During our last month of school here, as Daniela was running from one UME campus to another as the long-term music substitute teacher: she popped in for a moment to say “Hi” to one of Hudson’s teachers. The teacher mentioned a report Hudson had made to the class about what he wanted to do with his life:
“He told everyone that one day he hopes to be a missionary and work with orphans.”
Daniela smiled as if not surprised, but inside she was shocked and almost moved to tears. I felt the same way when she shared this story with me that evening. You see, Hudson is an incredibly smart, gifted, and ambitious boy but most of what he talks about on a day-to-day basis are video games, wanting to buy a new PC, and your usual general chit-chat about nothing really that important. On the other hand, Lucas is our kid who hugs us almost every time he sees us and says, “I love you, mom and dad.” And Chloe can’t stop asking us to do just about everything for her, proving to be the neediest and most demanding kid I’ve ever met—but at least we’re needed. Hudson is more distant, keeping his thoughts mainly to himself—unless they’re about video games. Sometimes we wonder what’s going on deep down inside. His teacher gave us a little glimpse into that mysterious mind of his and God let us know that He is at work in our son’s heart for purposes and plans we could never imagine.
This is why we continue to follow God’s call, wherever He leads. For now, our children have to follow us, but they are also learning to trust and follow HIM.