Month: January 2016

5 Tips for Talking to Your Parents About Missions

“No, you’re not.”

These were my Dad’s words when I first told him I was considering a year of overseas missions after graduation. I had been on missions trips for too many summers, so it was time for me to use my college education, get a job, and make some money.

Talk about shooting down a dream.

If you are anything like me, you know that navigating this kind of conversation with your parents can be tough. Whether they are believers or not, parents aren’t always the biggest fans of seeing their kids move far, far away.

Fast-forward four months, and I had officially committed to spending a year in East Asia. Though my parents never loved my decision, they were able to give their approval. I had told myself I wasn’t going overseas without their support, and I actually received it before deciding.

Here are 5 things I learned when talking to my parents about missions:

1.) Understand their perspective. My parents’ biggest hurdle was money. They had invested tens of thousands of dollars for me to attend a prestigious, private university. In their view, I was wasting that degree because I wouldn’t make a large return on their investment.

Though I had a very different perspective, I actually understood their point. It made a lot of sense when I took a second to stand in their shoes.

While this didn’t cause me to change my opinion, it allowed me to have healthy and beneficial conversations with them. I told them about business as missions. I told them about all of the ways I could use my major on a team. I reassured them that one year overseas wasn’t throwing away a career in the business world.

Not only did this help correct their misperceptions, it helped them see missions as a viable option.

2.) Honor Them. This might be the hardest command in the Bible to keep when talking about missions (Ephesians 6:1-2).

In listening to your parents and understanding their perspective, pray about whether you need to honor your parents for a season through obedience.

Maybe you need to become financially independent before going overseas. Maybe you need to spend some time healing broken family relationships. Maybe you aren’t called overseas at this time.

This obviously requires lots of wisdom and discernment, but it’s in the Bible. It can’t be glanced over just because it doesn’t say, “Obey everything they say.”

3.) Be patient. I have heard too many horror stories of people waiting to tell their parents about their decision to move overseas until after it was already made.

That is not respectful. That is blindsiding them.

Involve them in your decision from the very beginning. Make sure they are heard. And don’t expect them to get on board right away.

Your parents love you a lot. It is natural for them to resist you moving to the other side of the world. Plus, you have probably been on this journey for months, if not years. Don’t expect them to be excited in a split second when it took you a lot longer than that.

4.) Pray. Don’t put pressure on yourself to change your parents’ hearts. Trust in the only one with the power to truly change hearts.

If you believe God is changing hearts on the mission field, trust Him just the same with your parents’ hearts.

It was always tempting for me to try and convince my parents with my own logic and well-worded arguments. But it was humbling and freeing to step back and surrender their opinions to the sovereign Lord.

5.) Show, don’t only tell. I remember my high school English teacher giving our class advice about writing. “Show, don’t tell.” It’s more effective to tell a story about a person’s humility than to simply say they are a humble person.

Live out this principle with your life. While it might be necessary at times to tell your parents statistics about the unreached world, or the Bible verses from which you draw inspiration, make sure you are also living out those principles.

Don’t talk about how much you want to share the gospel overseas and then remain silent about it at home. Don’t talk about how you want to love others unconditionally, but fail to do the same at home. Don’t just tell them about why you fell in love with missions; involve them in the process of growing deeper in love.

Talking to parents about missions can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. While these steps aren’t a fail-proof solution, they will bring understanding and dialogue to a topic that often brings conflict and dissension.

You are called to love your parents with the same love you desire to share overseas. Don’t let family relationships blind you from the truth of the gospel.

What are some tips you have found helpful for talking to parents about missions? Start the conversation below!

Episode Five: 5 Ways to Be a Person of Integrity on the Field

In episode five of Life On Mars, your hosts Don and Todd have a fascinating conversation with George about how to think through being a person of integrity on the field. George is a missionary among Muslims in the unreached world, a top-notch leader with years of experience, and a personal friend of The Sowers Project team.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What it looks like to communicate honestly with your supporters
  • How to think about financial integrity
  • How to manage your time well overseas
  • How to explain who you are when you’re in a country where it’s illegal to be a missionary
  • How to think about success on the mission field

If you’re looking to move overseas or are involved in a church that sends workers to the unreached, this episode is for you.


3 Ways to Have Joy During Times of Transition

If you have ever been overseas or prayed for others living in a 2nd or 3rd culture, you might know the phrase “reverse culture shock.” We’ve even written about it on this blog before. It’s that feeling you get when you return to your home culture, only to find that you’ve changed, your home culture has changed, and they don’t fit together as well as they used to.

People have encouraged me to prepare well for my return home. However, I didn’t prepare well for the rollercoaster of feelings I would have about events happening in America while I am overseas.

I’ve been here for 2.5 years now, which means I have missed a LOT of holidays, births, deaths, tragedies, the list goes on. For example, my parents moved a couple weeks ago. The different emotions of uselessness in helping them move, the sadness of leaving behind years of memories, and the reality of not celebrating this change with them all crossed my mind. In May, I will miss my 2nd and last sibling’s college graduation!

Even if you have acclimated yourself to being away for big events, maybe terrorist attacks in the news or big cultural morality shifts discourage you and make you wonder what is happening to your previous home? These situations can negatively affect how you live life overseas if you aren’t careful.

Here are a couple things I’ve found helpful to combat the second guessing, negativity and regret that can come with these events. These can be helpful whether you moved across the globe, changed jobs or moved neighborhoods, turning those hard feelings into joy and satisfaction for where God has placed you:

1.) Remind yourself of all the good things happening around you. By God’s grace, I am allowed to serve Him in this place where many, many people do not know who Jesus is or what His sacrifice on the cross means.

I may not be able to eat Olive Garden whenever I want or spend every holiday with family and friends, but I have the opportunity to partake in the work God has set before us. What an amazing gift for which to be thankful!

2.) Be honest about your feelings while still growing in community. In my first few months here, it was easy to spend all my time Skyping family and friends and keeping up on all the news back home. Slowly, however, America became my old home and this new place became my new home.

I started to invest more in the people here and less in the people back home. It makes being away for holidays easier and further bonds me with my friends and teammates here. I still have many friends and family back home that are important parts of my life, but my friends here have to function as my family.

If you live every day like you are going to move back home eventually, you won’t be able to fully embrace the work the Father has for you in your new home.

3.) Trusting God through prayer and obedience. The phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side” can come up a lot in overseas work. We go in with high expectations of what we are going to do, how we are going to do it and how we are going to feel once our goal is accomplished.

As we usually find out the hard way, God’s ways are not our ways.

Our only job is to be faithful and step into what God would have for us. If we spend all our time reminiscing and second guessing our decision, we won’t be able to embrace what He would have for us. God is going to accomplish His work whether or not we are there. Why not be a part of it?

I anticipated plenty of things about living here to be hard. Having to constantly adjust to changes back home was not one of them. However, I have learned a lot through these experiences and have grown closer to my current culture and “overseas family” because of it.

Fully trusting God’s plans and purposes for your life is the best way to live. If we are able to trust Him with the things we can’t control, He will have more freedom to do a work in you and the people around you.

Episode Four: 4 Crucial Contextualization Questions

In this episode of Life On Mars, our trusted friend Andy provides helpful insight into the often foggy world of contextualization. Andy is a brilliant gospel laborer in an unreached area, living sacrificially with his family for Jesus’ renown. His insights on this topic are essential to think through and wrestle with as you consider how you might fit into God’s global work.

Listen to this week’s episode below or subscribe by searching for “Life on Mars” in the iTunes store. Let us know what you think!

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