We begin our final preparation for departure to Papua New Guinea by asking you to join us in prayer for our family, nuclear & extended. Together we’ll face unprecedented relational challenges. That is of course from our perspective, indeed there are many who have walked this same trail before and from whose example we take heart. While certainly stretching, it is an incredible opportunity for us to understand and experience God’s love and grace more fully as we lean in all the more heavily on Him.
While the very definition & even existence of a nuclear family is being challenged here in the US, we’ll face some decidedly different obstacles as we head overseas –
- What will the Mark family look like in a cross-cultural ministry context? What roles will the Lord have each of us play as together we seek to make His name famous among the nations?
- How will we parent 3rd culture kids (TCKs)? As they face new and different challenges, probably different from our own and maybe even different from each other’s, how do we shepherd their hearts? How may we best assist the kids in transitioning well to a new culture while keeping them connected with that of the US in order to transition back well too?
- How will we maintain relationships with family & friends across the many miles for years on end? Even coming “home” to the US on our first furlough 4 years from now will mean leaving behind a whole other set of friends.
We’re not the only ones sacrificing either as we head off to the other side of the globe. Our extended family: our parents, siblings, cousins, etc., they too sacrifice much –
- How often will they be confronted with the fact “this isn’t easy” as they surrender not just big moments, big hopes, big dreams to the Father, but all the countless little moments they’ll miss out on as well?
- How will they remain connected to their kid/sibling/cousin who’s not just ½ way around the world for years at a time, but now speaks a different language, eats different food, & maybe even comes to call another country home?
- Who will rally around them with support and encouragement as they process what’s happening and adapt to their new role? Their sacrifice isn’t as immediately evident to most onlookers when placed alongside that of our family being the ones in the field. There’s a good possibility their needs are probably not as evident either, maybe even to them.
These aren’t reasons not to go, they’re tough realities of going, taking the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. It is true, as the Austin Stone Worship song declares, “Jesus is Better.” When Christ commissioned His followers to go out and make disciples of all nations, though, I do not believe it was to be at the complete expense of the family. That’s certainly not what He modeled when, compelled by love He followed His Father’s leading, leaving His perfect home above. No, despite making Himself nothing and being made in human likeness Jesus never broke fellowship with the Father until that moment on the cross when for our sake He bore the full burden and horror of our sin debt. Even then, while unspeakable, that period of separation made possible the most glorious of reunions as He returned to the Father and was not only restored but exalted to the highest place.
Pray then if you will for us, for our family, and for the many thousands of others just like us who struggle, if but for a relative brief moment in this life, to live connected foremost with God and His kingdom’s claim on our lives while maintaining fellowship with those He has placed in our lives and who hold such dear places in our hearts.