When my son was 12 I sent him on his first missions trip with Royal Servants. He looked so little standing there with his backpack, pseudo facial hair and sleeping bag. I had prayed for him his whole life and I wanted him to serve God with a heart for missions. What I failed to realize is that meant cutting out my heart and sending it overseas! I wanted to create a diversion, forget everything and keep him home! I had to decide how to be the champion of my kids.
I realized in that moment that my fears, my selfishness and my lack of faith could trap him into a lifetime of not doing what God called him to do. I had to man up and grow up fast. Sending him overseas became my summer of growth as a mom. Many years later, he continues to serve in missions and each year I know God will direct his path. I have become a champion of my kids serving in missions. Even though good-byes are hard, I look forward to them returning full of God stories and knowing they did what they were called to do! I also look forward to how God will grow me each summer as I obey, pray and trust His goodness at work in our family.
How do I send my kids out well?
1. Zip it!
Keep my fears about finances, stress, going back to college etc. to myself. I need to pray through my concerns and cheer loudly that my kid is choosing to SERVE and GIVE for an entire summer.
2. Send letters of encouragement and packages.
If your son or daughter is serving as a discipleship group leader they will need encouragement as they pour into their students. Get your friends together and bake goodies for his/her discipleship group, send a note to be read to the group, pack a birthday party in a box for everyone in their group. Or write verses on note cards to encourage them overseas.
3. Understand the need for them to focus on their missions trip.
It will be really hard for them to call or email home. Their time is very limited and focused on serving. Don’t guilt them for lack of contact or mail. Trust that they are ok and if anything is not ok—you will be the first to know!
4. Study what they are studying
Each day this summer your son or daughter will be studying a chapter in Proverbs. Study this at home and pray through it as you read it. This simple habit has brought me great joy over the years and I love journaling what I learn through this.
5. Plan space for them to unwind and debrief when they return.
Serving as a leader has many demands and your son/daughter will need time to unpack emotionally when they return. As hard as it is, don’t pack a million things into the first week home. Save the big family dinners and reunions for a few days. Allow them space to sleep, unwind and share at their own space. This is even more important if your child is an introvert! Bless them by letting them set the pace.