“Thank you for your work and care in preparing eTouch, but I do have to bring out something that will not be able to be couched in cotton wool. I have to speak plainly, for surely, our desire is for holiness, as it always was in YWAM, and that cannot be maintained with certain sinful traits in the heart.
We have noticed in the last few years this new idea that the children of missionaries are hard done by. It sounds as if they are the only ones on earth who had to move with their parents, had to adjust to things, missed their friends when moving, and so on and so forth.”
It is time to remember the millions of children in the world who live painfully difficult lives, many who have even had their lives torturously ended by their own parents or care-givers, thousands the world over who have no parents at all, like the traumatized orphans in Africa, the Sudan for example, many of whom saw the massacre of their parents and siblings, for the sake of Christ, and who would give anything to "tag along" with someone else's parents, no matter the destination or circumstances. I could go on pointing out the sorrows of the young around the world.
So to hear this new tune harped on and on these days from the mouths of Christians is not only disturbing to hear, but is most dishonoring to the Lord, and shows deep-seated ingratitude to our Father and Creator, who arranges all things and chose all parents and the children to be born to them. It is another form of questioning God, God's wisdom, God's will, God's ways of training each child of a family by the circumstances of that family. It is another form of murmuring and complaining and grizzling, and you know that passage in Corinthians which tells the result of such a sin. Let the young ones read that for themselves and make a choice.
And what is this, "tag along on their parents' call", or "tag-along MKs"? (We have not done them any favors by calling and classifying them as "kids." Perhaps the worldly label fits the rebellion so common today, and perhaps there is more to our words than we care to consider; "death and life are in the power of the tongue". Every single child in the world is born into a family whose parents have some sort of employment or other, or worse still, none at all. There may be perfect situations - how lovely! All of us went where our parents went, lived where our parents chose, had to see our fathers go out to work for 8 or more hours a day (in the days when I was young), went to the school which our parents thought would be the best for our education, whether that actually turned out to be so, or not; that was not their fault. We were not "tag-alongs," just as the children of missionaries are not. Is this a scriptural view of life? They are God-ordained children and members of a family. How different that is, and beautiful!
My missionary friend in [name of country] phones every week for fellowship and prayer, and I had to correct her on a similar line when she asked me to pray for two daughters who need "inner healing", if you please, because their father was a baker and needed their help in the early morning. I could not pray for such a thing at all, though my prayers would have taken a more direct tack right through to the real issue. Every child may be expected to help their parents in whatever the work of the family is. Some help with the milking early in the morning and/or evening, as most of the children who grew up on farms in [my nation] had to do when I was a girl, or come home and work in the market gardens or orchard of their parents, as they do also in the Islands and around the poorer world. Some with large families helped, and still do, their mothers keep house and cook and garden.
What is this inner healing for work performed? Have we completely abandoned our senses, or our love for God, which is behind all we do? Just because the so-called teens of today think that sleeping in is their God-given right and prerogative, does not mean that the children of our Christian homes have such a right before God or their parents. Rather, we were taught that to be a faithful Christian we are going to have to learn to rise in time to pray, to rise early, and some earlier than others. If they cannot get out of bed when they are young and 'full of energy,' what will befall them when they are aged? Does the Lord of heaven and earth make a mistake with our lives? Does he overlook this or that of our circumstances? Are we to have no difficulties in our upbringing, a life of perfect pleasure? Who do we think we are? How are we going to be tested for the work the Lord has prepared for us? What I see here is a battle against God, a battle against the conditions into which we were born, a preference (camouflaged, maybe) for other parents, other family arrangements apart from the ones the Lord chose for us, a wish for an easy life with no pitfalls, full of the self-righteous, self-piteous question, "Why me?" We did not go abroad with our parents, but I would have loved that and seen myself as privileged, to see other peoples and lands and ways when I was young, certainly not something to grumble and turn sour about.
Where does "honor thy father and thy mother" apply any more? Do Christian parents no longer lead by example in giving thanks to God "in" and "for all things" (both prepositions are written in this context in the NT), so that thankfulness becomes the way of life for the whole family? What a firm foundation for the trials of life that would be! How blessed missionary children are, from what I have observed at close range! On the other hand, those who did not "feel" blessed, the "poor-me" ones, can join a vast host of disenchanted adolescents the world over, of whom all "feel" that life mistreated them somehow, many of them from normal, good homes and loving parents, with every opportunity to enjoy their young lives, though not perfect, like all the homes on the face of the earth, but instead miserable by choice, this worldwide army manifests an unprecedented disgruntlement with their lot, groaning about their parents and homes which they have now left for 'better things', all this bitterness visible on their faces, in their careless gait and lack of poise, in their disinterest in serving and giving, in their attitudes to the disciplines of life, in their insubordination to authority, and in their unwillingness or inability to communicate with persons older than themselves except by a monosyllabic grunt of "reply," if that.
So it is that to meet the believers in our fellowship week by week is such a refreshment, where the children of all ages are contented, though the homes are varied, some rich, some poorer, where the young lives are happy, a fellowship in which we may enjoy fellowship and love between the generations, and where the parents do not accept the world's separate category of "teenager," as the scriptures themselves do not, and thus the corollary that there must, of necessity, be a stage of rebellion and indiscipline, of sin and shipwreck and misery. Satan has cashed in on that deception. No, we do not accept that here, and as a result, how pleasing it is to see life and happiness and freshness on their young faces. Some of these children are also the children of missionaries returned home (temporarily or not), and not one of them is warped or sad or down in the mouth about being taken ("tagged") along with their parents. That is family life, and the opposite of that is to be left behind, or not be given birth at all, like millions of aborted ones. What do our missionary children really have to complain about? How can we begin to pray for revival when we and our children are so taken up with ourselves, can take so little of "hardship", the meaning of which we from the West cannot begin to fathom. The followers of Christ Jesus were intended to be salt and light, and our children after us, a testimony of happiness to the world as we walk with our Lord. So let it be, by some widespread change of thought and repentance of heart, that the Lord do something with his Church to make us different from the world, and bring us back from our 'sad' lives, to His Word and His joy and His way of seeing and doing things. It is all written there.
God bless you all.
. . . and my response:
I'm happy for your appreciation of eTouch... it's a labor of love (but as with all labor, there is some perspiration in its preparation too).
I have carefully read your very articulate and detailed letter and want to thank you for taking the time to respond.
Perhaps we have misled you in the purpose for our ministry, which is principally directed to those who have been in YWAM. And the purpose is for their encouragement to go on for God and not let down after their stint in the mission. I would like to think that we have a Barnabas ministry - encouraging the saints.
At my age I am pretty aware of the injustices that you mention that are rampant around the world, and I frequently shudder at the inhumanity of people to people that is our world... and always has been. So I try to keep all that in perspective.
But the truth is I'm mostly focused on a very narrow slice of humanity... some of whom have had relatively difficult experiences in life. Bottom line is, if the children of missionaries are secure in their family relationships, they will actually become stronger than most. Uprooting children - especially when going to a totally different culture where everything is strange and different from the normal, is indeed a challenge. For the parents too. One can only know this by experience. (Of course, larger companies, the military and others, post their personnel overseas, not of their own free will. But they mostly live in a cocoon, separated from the native people and all the daily trials that they may have.)
Some of our readers are missionary children and may not have handled life in another culture well and are still holding grudges toward their parents and God and others... well this story in eTouch was an attempt to show that in actual fact, it can be a blessed opportunity in life.
(As an aside, a secular study was done some years ago, in which the careers of all those listed in 'Who's Who' were categorized and tracked. This publication contains concise biographical information on particular people who have achieved a certain level of 'success' in life, whether it be financial, political, medical or any other realm of society. The greatest number of those whose names made it into the book were children of missionaries - ahead of pastors, doctors, lawyers and all the rest. Though this is not a spiritual measure of where they ended up, it shows that there is a certain 'something' built into these children.)
So I make no apologies that Donna & I took our children into missions. For myself, also an MK, as a young boy I spent 3 1/2 years in a Japanese prison camp in China - I can honestly say that I have not one bitter or regretful thought towards our captors about those years. On the contrary, I count that time as a plus. My parents are the ones who suffered most, and it cost my Mother's life at too early an age.
Your community sounds idyllic, so rich in relationships, harmony and with obedient and respectful children. Sadly, I live in a different world, in a small city in Canada where the church is not yet united, and where there is much going on that only God can remedy.
Again thank you for your time and effort in writing. Should eTouch become too painful to read, please avail yourself of the 'unsubscribe' button - and I will not be offended. Like I say, our purpose is to encourage and challenge our readers (Donna does most of the 'direct' challenging through her Corner each month, while I tend more to the pastoral approach).
Every Blessing and continued success in your community relationships at home,
Dear fellow servant of the Lord and I'm assuming ex-YWAMer,
I read with interest your lengthy, articulate letter where you challenged the thought that MK's felt like "tagalongs." (What would we do without the prophets in this world??) I also read Peter's just as articulate but loving, pastoral response. (Thank God for the pastors - I'm speaking of the gifting, not the position - in the Body who can come along and bring God's grace to a situation.) Isn't it interesting how God has given different gifts to the Body!
In your letter I believe you have a point, but, scolding the Body, in my observation, has never accomplished much. I'm sensing a "burr in your bonnet" that is not solely connected to the "tagalong children" issue. I may be wrong. Forgive me, if I am. But, I've been around a long time and it seems to me that far too often when young prophets feel that they have a word from God to deliver, and it may well be a needed word, they have not learned to include God's grace in their delivery. This causes the word and the prophet to be rejected. And very often the prophet believes it is the word only that was rejected and counts it a joy to be a "martyr" for God while at the same time building up a bitterness to those who have simply rejected the delivery. Consequently, he/she barrels ahead with his prophetic words, venting his anger in the Name of the Lord and continually wounding his brothers and sisters.
Now, I have no idea whether you are a young prophet or an "old timer", but I would just encourage you to include more of the grace of God in your delivery. The Body of Christ needs more weeping prophets who can humbly and brokenly deliver a word that might be sorely needed.
I praise God that our children did not feel deprived or as "tagalongs" when we sold everything and moved to Kona. In fact, to this day they will tell anyone how blessed they were to have had that experience and how their walk with God was greatly deepened. Sadly, that is not everyone's story. But those parents who are grieving the move of their children away from the things of God, due at least in part, to their stint in missionary work, do not need chastising. They need our love. Maybe they didn't offer their children the security they needed. That's not for me to judge. My job is to offer grace and love to those parents. I have no doubt they were doing the best they could at that period in their lives as they attempted to obey God. Who knows what Satan may have used to sow bitterness in the hearts of those children and cause them to walk away from God? We know that that goal is high on Satan's priority list. Sad as it is to face, the fact remains, there are many children who have been negatively affected by their parents’ choice to leave the secular world for missions. But, the last chapter has not been written in many of their lives. God is still at work drawing them back to Himself. They all need our prayers.
May God's grace and love become more precious to you as you continue your walk with Him. Joanne, USA
I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the letter from the person who took issue with the hardships of MKs. In Kona and on outreach, I watched wonderful families who were growing in the Lord and in their devotion to each other by serving together. So I sent this letter on to my two grandchildren who I scholar-shipped into DTS and to their parents, who have suffered terrible condemnation from their sons, both of whom were given the happiest childhood I ever saw. The parents took them all over the world while serving God; they had good schooling, including periods of home schooling, lovely American and international vacations, and several years of involvement in teen coffeehouse ministry. Yet these young men have walked away from God and actually complain about how unfair their lives have been. My daughter and her husband were so encouraged by what they read from that affirming writer. They have resolved to reject unfair criticisms and refuse to get sucked into the young men's whining 'entitlement mentality.' Thank you so much for including that in your latest (and always encouraging) eTouch. Martha, USA
Thanks so much for writing... and giving your 'take' on this issue. All I can say is that every situation is different, every family has issues that no one else really knows about, and the outcomes that vary so wildly, should not be judged.
If we are to judge others - and I absolutely believe we should not, tempting as that may be - I stand judged on this very issue. Blessings, Peter
I do love eTouch and welcome your words, comments, insight with joy… having been a YWAMer for just 3 years, I remember those good and bad days with fondness and gratefulness to God. I do want to comment thought on one of the replies below: I really liked your recent article about MK's tagging along in their parent's calling. I have felt guilt about that over the years, as my daughter struggled and fell away from God later, after we re-entered the world back home from YWAM. I wanted to respond to this person “who re-entered the world”. I wonder that she ever left the world. In my YWAM days, I was always a YWAMer but never not in the world. I always chose to go to church on Sunday to ensure that I was not ‘institutionalised’ and had the balance of both life in a missions organisation and life as a church member. I served in both. I personally think that those on the mission field who do not go to church do so in their own peril. We are called to be in the world but NOT of this world. None of us want the monastic lifestyle of years ago where the ‘church’ was driven to separate themselves for the very people that Jesus came to save. Reading the gospels, I never see Jesus separating Himself from the world, I do see HIM being just who is HE is and impacting the world. See I believe even though I am a pastor of a church, I am still a missionary. I just happen to live in the suburbs of (a big city), my mission field is now the canteen ladies, the mums and dads at school, my neighbours, my non-Christian friends and family and the hundreds who visit our church, engage with our programs and join in our events during the year. This is my mission field now. God calls everyone of us no matter where we live, work or play to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel – BE the GOSPEL”… so whether in YWAM or in my local community, I am and always will be a missionary. Mother Theresa once said “a missionary is not one who crosses the seas, but one who sees the cross”.
Whether an MK, PK or just a young kid in this world we need to be raising them with strength and resilience. Focus on God’s call for their life – which may NOT be missions, pastoring, etc… Their life – Their Call from God. I have encouraged my kids to get all their passports (they are dual nationalities), finish school, get University educated (equipped), get biblically educated (bible college or YWAM), get a job (learn how to submit, be given orders, work hard, etc), serve in church (learn servanthood) and then enter the world as best equipped as my husband and I can make them for the world. Church has made the difference in my kids life - they have been loved, cared for, believed in and challenged to achieve for God. They have multiple parents, sisters, brothers, mentors, peers, who have encouraged them along the journey… we all have the same message, “do it all for the glory of Christ”. Persecution is coming not always in the form of threat, fire, gun but now in our city it is coming that if you declare you are a Christian in many work places, it costs you your job; it is against company policy to share Jesus, is a new type of persecution.
Whether serving in another country or at home, we all face a variety of challenges as do our children. I am sure it will get harder… so let’s empower the next generation by leading them and showing them “how to live for Jesus victoriously… in the world.” Sue, Australia
Thank you so much for eTouch, I really enjoy reading it and find it stimulating, encouraging, thought-provoking and uplifting. I don't usually write to magazines etc, but I felt I wanted to share something important, even if you are the only ones who read it! My response concerns the Missionary Kids topic.
Quite a few years ago I remember hearing Loren Cunningham speak on this kind of subject. At the time he and Darlene had young children and his speaking trips would take him away from them for a number of weeks at a time. He and Darlene began to notice some fear in the children when a trip was mentioned or approaching. Recognising this as the work of the enemy and how precious children are to the Lord (as well as the parents they are given to!) they
began to pray about how to address this problem. Loren felt the Lord wanted to involve the whole family in the ministry speaking to others and so, before a trip, the family would gather and pray. The children were part of the preparation in prayer. The fear of Daddy going away vanished and the
children began to feel excited about what Daddy was doing and that they were part of it. From his experience, Loren taught that God calls families, not just a parent or two.
My husband and I were not in missions when we had children, but remembering the Cunningham's experience we made a point of including the children in prayer before my husband preached or taught at any church meetings. This
gave them an understanding on lots of different levels. They understood that daddy relied on God for help and strength, that other people needed to hear what God had to say through his servant, that God's word is living and
alive and fresh for today and each new generation, the importance of prayer, the fellowship of agreeing in prayer.
It was an important lesson for the Cunningham's and it became important to us as we experienced the value ourselves. Perhaps more people need to hear this message and try it themselves. There is blessing in this approach. I
will leave these thoughts with you to use as you see fit. Carol Hall, UK