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What Do I Tell Mom?
(Talking to Your Parents About Your Call To Missions)
There I was, my last trimester of college. The end of an era of my life. I was so excited. Over the previous years I had had opportunities to go to Israel, Jordan, and Oman; I had fallen in love with missions.
I thought back to Freshman year when I was at a small group… A girl came in 45 mins late crying about how she could no longer go to Jordan because the other girl on her trip dropped out. I was 17 at the time and when I heard this I paused for a moment, and then thought… why not? I said to her, “If my parents let me go I’ll go with you.”
I remember calling my mom with excitement that night and saying, “Mom, I have this amazing opportunity to go to Jordan! Can I go?” She was hesitant, but asked me, “How many people are going? How much is it going to cost? How long of a trip is it? Why do you want to go?” I replied, “I think about 5 people, around $4,500, I can fundraise. I want to go because I felt a stirring in my heart that I should say yes.” Looking back I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through her head. Here she was sending her 17 year old daughter off to college to get a good education and a good job, and now she wants to go to the Middle East… She handled it with as much grace as she could though and, to my surprise, said, “Let me talk to your father.”
My family are not Christians, so for them it didn’t make sense that I would want to go on a mission trip. It was only after sharing about the great commission, that Jesus calls us to go and to do what the Bible says, that they finally relented. My Mom’s biggest concern was safety. I remember having to talk with her and share that I had laid down my life for Jesus. That the only thing that really mattered to me was sharing the Gospel with the lost, and that I was willing to take any risk to go! It was within a week of when I first asked that my parents gave their blessing.
Then, the week before the trip, my Grandma was placed in hospice. My family didn’t know if she was going to make it. There was a possibility that she could die while I was in Jordan. I remember having to sit down with my mom and share Luke 9:60 with her. “Let the dead bury the dead.” I had a call from God to go on this trip and I knew that I was meant to go. I remember telling my mom and dad that I wanted to ask grandma for her blessing before I went on the trip. She gave it to me. My parents took me into my grandma’s room in hospice and she told me that I had her blessing to go and make a difference in the world. I said goodbye. She passed away while I was on that trip.
Months later, after returning home, I was at family dinner with my mom and dad. I told them that I needed to talk to them. I told them that I was no longer going to be in the teaching department at my college, and that I didn’t even know if I was going to be going back for my next semester. I shared with them that my heart had been broken for the Muslim people while I was in Jordan, and that everything inside of me now wanted them to know how to have a relationship with Jesus that was filled with hope and joy. I wanted to go into full time missions. My mom cried and my dad was disappointed.
So, Sophomore year I switched my major to religious studies and looked for every opportunity that I could find to go to the Middle East. I remember my mom asking me, “How are you going to support yourself? How are you going to make a living?” At that time I didn’t have the answers for her so I just said, “To tell you the truth, I don’t know. But I know that I have a God that loves me and has called me into missions. I know that my Bible says, ‘Go into all the nations’. It doesn’t’ say sit at home and live the American Dream.” At the end of the conversation my dad said, “At least respect me and your mom enough to finish a bachelor’s degree.” I said, “Yes.”
Fast forward to Junior year. My college opened up the opportunity to start a study abroad program in Oman. I remember calling my mom and telling her, “Mom, you know how I was planning on studying abroad? Well we have a new program! Can I go?” She said, “As long as it counts for your schooling. I know you’re going to be sharing Jesus while you are there, just honor your program and don’t get into too much trouble.” So I went! At this point she was getting used to me wanting to go on trips to reach the least of these.
Then we come to my senior year. The time where, in my parent’s mind, I’m meant to get a job or apply to seminary. I was one month away from graduation as a twenty year old. I had no idea what I was going to do. I remember my mom saying, “You should go get a nice job in a church and become a pastor! There is job security and you will not have to worry about anything.” Because I love my parents and want to make them happy… I started considering it. Then that next week I had a friend lovingly rebuke me. She said, “Meghan, since going to Jordan you’ve known you are called to this region of the world. You are making the worst mistake of your life by applying to universities.”
I remember calling my mom and saying, “Mom, you know how I’m applying for seminary… well, I’m stopping my application. I’ve actually felt like I need to go to a training program with Youth With a Mission. They train up missionaries to reach the lost.” She was dumbfounded… She knew I wanted to do missions but she always thought it was a phase and that I would grow out of it. Hearing me say that I was actively changing my plans in order to serve Jesus really threw both her and my father for a loop. She yelled and was extremely angry for the first 1.5 months after I made the decision to go. She didn’t understand. She kept asking, “Why can’t other people answer the great commission, why does it have to be you?”
I remember during this time having to spend a lot of time on my knees praying for wisdom on how to explain this to her in love. I kept coming back to the Scripture Matthew 28 where it calls us to go into the nations. It doesn’t say for just some of us to go to the nations, but is a call inviting all of us to go and partner with His work. Eventually, my mom began to understand that although my choice wasn’t logical in her mind, it was completely lead by the Lord and that nothing she argued would change my mind. In the end, I left with her blessing.
Through what felt like a long, difficult process, I learned some key tips that have helped me navigate through some tricky conversations brought on by my life of missions:
- Even if your family are not believers, always have a scripturally backed word of the Lord for why you are going. This allows you to have assurance that what you are choosing to do is right and in obedience to Jesus. He’s the One you’re aiming to please.
- Never get angry or yell back (I don’t know how many times I yelled at my mom out of frustration) When you get angry and yell and argue it is discrediting you and it is not showing the love of Christ. Love is patient, love is kind and gentle. Show this side of Christ in you. The times that I have seen the most breakthrough have been when I am walking in the peace of the Lord.
- When you can, honor your parents’ requests – But be sure this doesn’t turn into disobedience to God. For me, honoring my parents’ requests to get a bachelor’s degree has lead them to actually respect me and support me monthly on the missions field. And to clarify again, this was after I spent some time in prayer and asking Jesus if I could honor this request and remain in line with His desires for me. Jesus will always lead you the way that will produce the most fruit down the line.
- Prayer is key. In my own power I am not able to convince my family of anything. It took praying and asking the Lord to move on my behalf for my family to finally come to terms with me being on the mission field.
- Make sure you have a support group. Whether this is your friends or family, always have others praying on your behalf. For me, I have had my friends interceding for my family for every major conversation that I have had about missions with them! I fully believe that this has caused the softening of their hearts for what I’m doing.
The final word I have for you is don’t be discouraged if at first your friends and family do not understand! Sometimes it takes time. Also, know that Jesus has the perfect plan. He knows exactly how to ease your family into the idea of you stepping out into missions. So take a deep breath and lean in on the Lord! Know that the Lord is your defender.
“The Lord is your mighty defender, perfect and just in all his ways; Your God is faithful and true; he does what is right and fair.” Deuteronomy 32:4 (GNT)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)