I have known very few families, if any, going to the mission field with a bunch of teenagers. I’m sure it’s been done before, I just don’t know of any personally. So in a sense, Bill and I don’t really know what preparing our teens to make the move overseas should look like. No books I know of, address this.
Teens are at a critical time in their life, as anyone with a teen will tell you. Knowing their identity, or finding it, is a big part of a teens’ life. Shoot, it’s a big part of an adults’ life! And asking someone who is not sure of who they are to go to another country sounds like a recipe for disaster. Or so it seems lately.
You see, our decision to move to Paraguay will profoundly affect our kids for the rest of their lives. It will cause some suffering. We’re already seeing that, as some of our kids have experienced not having any friends for a season, or the friends they do have live thousands of miles away. It hurts them. Our obedience to the Lord is hurting our kids in some way. And that makes me sad.
So what’s the solution? Not go? Be disobedient? To us the answer is of course “no”, but continue on the journey that God has for us. But what about our kids? What do we do with their hurts and longings and heartaches? Take them to Jesus, and teach them to suffer well. As we adults know, life is full of hurt and pain. One of the best things we can do for our kids is teach them to suffer well. If they are believers, constantly remind them of who they are in Christ, pray for and over them, and endeavor to show unconditional love. Teach them that they can know joy within their suffering, and that God knows and hears their hearts’ cries. And don’t be afraid to cry with them. Don’t be embarrassed to cry real hard tears with them.
We are leaving everything we know behind, to follow and obey God, by making disciples in Paraguay. And that hurts our kids. But God loves them so much more than I ever could, and I must trust that He knew exactly what He was calling our family to at this stage in our lives. The same thing He calls us to at any stage of life. Himself.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30