Though often weary and overburdened, church planters must stay nourished by the words breathed out by God—they are there so that we might not be lacking anything (2 Tim. 3:16). Answers and wisdom for specific families and children may be sought out in the pages of the Bible. The Word is alive and active and can help us discern our motives in going or staying (Heb. 4:12).
I’ll never forget the agonized look on my mother-in-law’s face when we said goodbye. Her years and life experience told her what we didn’t yet know: Our move across the ocean would bring pain. Lots of it. We were heading overseas with her first newborn grandbaby, feeling like we were mere babies ourselves.
She knew there would be trials and hardships—and that we would endure them all 5,000 miles from home, family, and all things familiar. But we were propelled by optimism, God’s calling, and an eager willingness to preach Christ among the unreached. Thus began our journey as cross-cultural church planters, first in Asia, later in Europe.
On the eve of that baby’s sixteenth birthday, I’m looking back and can testify to two seemingly opposing truths: they were our best years, but they were hard years.
I’ve written before about the joys of raising children as cross-cultural church planters. It’s true, if presented with a buffet of options for how to raise my kids again, I’d pick just that. In fact, I spend much of my days encouraging families to consider taking that plunge, and counseling and encouraging from afar those who already have. But the reality is, as numerous as the blessings are, so too are the causes for questioning and heartache.
The church—both those who go and those who send—must acknowledge the hardships that cross-cultural workers face. And we must stand ready to help those who go as they walk through various valleys.