As a parent, I consider my children to be both a huge blessing and a heavy responsibility. We may live in a safe country with a high standard of living but there’s a cost. The job market is competitive and the living costs are high. Hence it would be irresponsible for me not to be concerned about their future much like my own parents did for me years ago.
That’s why it was a huge concern for us to consider going into the mission field as a family. Up to that point, my life seemed almost ideal. I had a secure job, Hooi Yin was working part time, my sons were both enrolled in a good school and we had their future all laid out. And then the Lord called.
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” [*]
Despite the promise I made long ago to go if the Lord called me, I now only knew doubt, fear and reluctance.
Why now Lord? What about our children Lord? Were we not already settled into life in Singapore? If I were still single, or if we had no kids yet, then I could easily pack up and go! But now… there was just so much to worry about for them.
At the time, I told myself that these were real and good and justifiable fears. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to obey the Lord, I just pleaded with Him to be reasonable. Now was NOT the right time that’s all.
And then one quiet night as I stayed up late thinking, I stumbled upon an online sermon. The preacher shared his own concern for his children and how the Lord challenged his thoughts that it was impossible for him to be a part of mission work because of them. I am paraphrasing here as I don’t remember the exact words, but in his struggles with the Lord, the Lord asked him, “what inheritance are you leaving for your children?”.
That question hit me hard.
Up to this point we had been struggling in our own strength to provide for our children’s future. Though we professed faith in God’s provision, our daily conversations at the dinner table spoke otherwise as we more readily discussed school reports or financial plans. Honestly, matters of faith were usually confined to DG meetings and Sunday service!
Matthew 6:19-24 directly cautions against such practice. Earthly treasures will spoil, they do not last forever. In some cases, after all your hard work to acquire them they can disappear in an instant. Heavenly treasures on the other hand, once gained, can never be taken away.
In Jesus’ time, this was also a matter of concern for the everyday Jew. Rome had conquered Jerusalem and the people were experiencing hardship under their oppressors. Wealth and land or other forms of inheritance offered some security but could easily disappear. Honour and influence were also coveted by the people. These were visible things that affected one’s life though none of it offered any real form of security for the future.
Jesus reminded his disciples again and again to not be anxious about their lives, but to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:25-34) and then the Father would give all the things you need afterwards. In His parables of the hidden treasure or the pearl of great value (Matthew 13:44-46), he desribes how truly valuable the kingdom of heaven is in comparison to all other treasures that people would sell everything they have to purchase them.
As a parent it is easy for me to feel that the responsibility for raising my children and providing an inheritance for them falls solely on my shoulders. However, the reality is that they are also God’s children. He loves them far more than I ever will, because He already sent Jesus to die for them. God also promises to provide for them because He KNOWS them and therefore also knows what they need.
If I live by faith and share this burden of raising my children with Jesus, my duty as a parent will become much lighter. But I still need to teach these truths to my children so that they too will know their Heavenly Father and learn to trust and follow Him.
Begrudgingly I accepted that one way to do this was by simply obeying God’s call, modeling to them through acts of faith on my part.
Following God’s path for us was not always easy. In the ensuing weeks there were still many practical questions though the mood was now different. No longer were we alone in this struggle but knew that the Lord was there with us. We spoke to our children and shared with them how the Lord had called us to go into the mission field, but that they were an important part of it too. We communicated openly to them our struggles, our fears and doubts. We told them that we needed to trust God’s plan for us and that He would take care of us. And we prayed with them often and sometimes they would pray for us too!
Living as a missionary, I am wholly reliant on the Lord to provide for my families needs. Therefore all of my plans have to be laid before the Lord first. At times the experience has been very scary as I do no like uncertainty. But through the many ups and downs we have experienced, our children have personally experienced the Lord’s love and how He provides for us, His children.
My prayer is that all of my children will receive a living faith in our Lord Jesus. That they would trust Him in good times and bad times and go wherever He calls them to and live as He lived. Such faith is an inheritance that is worth far more than any riches on earth.
Every year at True Way, when Christmas and Easter approach, I always look forward to hearing the testimonies of the baptism candidates. In those words I also hear the words of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus that has made them decide to take this next bold step in their Christian journey.
In Japan, we don’t often get to see baptisms but this year we will see two.
A few months before we left for Japan in 2018, Ethan (our eldest), said to us that he was ready to follow Jesus. Together we prayed a prayer of confession and my heart almost burst for joy. On July 9 this year he will be baptised in Japan, together with another young boy at Kusatsu Church. He has been patiently waiting for this day and my parents and sisters will be flying in to witness the ceremony.
Dear brothers and sisters of True Way, I hope that you too will rejoice with us as we celebrate this joyous occasion!
[*] This is a dramatic reenactment and may not accurately represent the actual words spoken to me!