The Missionary must never forget his family.
You’re in a church service and the preacher talks about serving on some foreign field. The Holy Spirit puts His finger right on your heart and pushes your button. Your wife feels it. Your pastor feels it. You’re called. You come home in a flurry of excitement as you sit down with your children and tell them you are all going to a foreign field. Unlike you and your wife, they stare at you with blank faces. You know that something is wrong so you begin telling them of all of the “fun” they will have there, but this produces only a marginal change in them. In fact, they tell you they don’t want to leave and go to another country.
What you are experiencing is the phenomena of partial calling. This is when you are called, but other members of your family are not. Usually you don’t know this is happening because the “non-called” members of your family will mask their disapproval with a false excitement. They do this because they love you and they love their family and, after all, they don’t have much choice in the matter. They show enthusiasm, but it’s not the same as yours. Missionaries need to know they are not the only one in their family who has a life, friends, routine, relatives, etc. Your children have all of that too!
Just because God has placed a calling on your life, does not mean He has done the same for them. If this is the case, you can only imagine how difficult it is for them to be ripped from their life and set on the stage of deputation every weekend to perform for different churches. They may like it and then again, they may not. It is also tough for MK’s (Missionary Kids) to be suddenly thrust onto a foreign field where they have to make new friends, learn a new language, figure out a new way of doing things, and how to fit in. They may not be as enthusiastic about it as you may be.
Our first night on the mission field, we were all tired from the 23 hour plane ride. The house we were to stay in was in disarray. We had to make beds just to find a place to lay down and sleep. As the kids were upstairs getting their room ready, we were doing the same downstairs. Suddenly, there was a shriek that sounded like a wounded panther. It sent chills down our spines. I ran upstairs to see all of my girls huddling in a corner of their room as if to gain some mystical protection from one another. They were pointing to the largest spider they had ever seen on the pillow of one of their beds. I killed it and took it outside, but they were not convinced. My wife had to take all of the bedding off, and I had to turn all of the mattresses over to make sure there were no more such creatures in their room. They were really not enjoying being a MK that night. They had never seen such a thing “back home.” I thought it was all a part of the “great adventure” of being a missionary. They longed for the safety of home.
The missionary will do well to not forget his family. They are facing a whole new way of living. Yes, there is excitement, but with excitement comes difficulties, and our children feel them more than anyone else. Their feelings tend to be forgotten because the missionary is so engrossed with his calling. He should not forget the effect that his calling will have on each member of his family.