My parents have taught me many things. Many of these lessons were given during my childhood, but they continue even today. They have instructed me both by their lectures (which they would probably say I didn’t listen to) and by their example. Two of the lessons I have learned from them have been on my mind lately, and I wanted to share them with you.
#1 Be helpful
This was and is a favorite saying of my mom’s. Whenever we would go to a friend’s for supper, or spend the weekend away from home, or simply be in the mission guest house, helpfulness was definitely on her radar. My mom would remind us to “brush our teeth and to be helpful.” And if one of my friends’ parents happened to report back how helpful one of us kids were, it was honestly like my mom had gotten the gold star of parenting.
My dad was big on helpfulness at home: “Why are you sitting on the couch reading when your mom is trying to get supper on? Have you asked her if she needs any help?” He was big on “opening your eyes” and seeing what it was that needed to be done. If the floor is dirty, sweep it. If people are carrying a load of boxes somewhere, get up and go help them.
My parents have been examples of this kind of helpfulness in all my waking memory. Another word for this is servant-minded. They volunteered in countless jobs other than their main “ministry description” on the field. They postponed furloughs, sometimes for years, in order to fill in where needed. On their days off they have fed people and played with their kids and taken them baked goods and taught Sunday school and a long list of other activities.
Their eyes are always open to see what needs to be done. And that is why they are headed to Mexico in a few days. There is an un-met need for a teacher at the school for missionary kids. There is an un-met need for a secretary in the mission’s office. Having known about these needs and having the skill sets to meet those needs, they are going to help.
#2 Press On
This time, one of my dad’s favorite sayings. Not the empty, humanistic “get yourself together” or “grit your teeth and bear it” kind of thing, but the “pressing on” that is done in Jesus’ power for the sake of His name. The kind of “pressing on” that is necessary because we know the stakes and we know the prize.
That is why, over the years, when my parents had no energy left, they pressed on. When they were discouraged about their ministries, they pressed on. When they had no money coming in, they pressed on. When their current job was getting too physically demanding for them, they pressed on. And that is why now, when they should rightly be thinking about retirement, they are, instead, heading to a new field to start a new ministry.
Despite rusty Spanish, low finances, nerves about the unknown, and my dad’s recent cancer scare, my parents are packing up their car and heading to Chihuahua, Mexico to continue to give their efforts towards what God laid on their hearts more than 40 years ago: to be part of taking the gospel to those without it.
I feel fortunate to have parents who have set such an example for me. I hope that in my late sixties I am still as dedicated to my calling as I was in my early twenties. It is fun to think I will be serving on the same field as my mom and dad, although we certainly will not be close enough for weekend visits.
One last lesson:
During my childhood, my parents also set the example for me by communicating well with their support base. The dining room table was often filled with envelopes in the process of being stuff with updates, thank you cards going out to supporters, and long letters shared with those who wanted to know how things were going. Although Mom and Dad have stayed strong in their dedication to the things they value, they somehow have let the letter-writing skills gather some serious dust. Oh well, what are kids for if not to dust things for their elderly parents, right? Plus, if I’m in charge, I get to include the word “elderly” in their communications, which would most likely not happen if they were the ones writing.
And that is what I am doing right now: a little bit of communication for and about my parents. They certainly have not asked me to do this, nor would they approve of the compliments (except for this last paragraph) that I’ve given them. Somewhere in the last four decades, they have forgotten the joy of sharing new challenges, new burdens, and new adventures with the people of God around the world who are longing to go to bat on their behalf.
If you are reading this and you would like to be praying for Tom and Lori Moore as they head to a new ministry in Mexico, would you consider writing and letting them know you’ll be praying?
If you are interested in supporting them financially, would you follow the link above and do just that? Whether a one-time gift to help with moving to a new place or a monthly donation that would support the day-to-day of their ministries, your efforts are greatly appreciated.
If you are reading this and you have been blessed by my parents’ helpfulness or perseverance in the past and simply want to let them know, I am confident that would also be a huge encouragement to them.
And, last but not least, if you are eager to write and scold them for not writing letters any more, well…I say go ahead. I got lots of scoldings from them as a child and I lived through them; I’m pretty sure they will, too.