What's it like when your children or grandchildren join in God's global mission and head off to places you would consider 'dangerous'?
“Laura, you trust everyone and expect them to be kind to you. When I come here I’m worried they are going to kidnap me or worse.”
Being the parent of a child that is called to live in a dangerous location can be hard, possibly even harder than living in the place itself. My parents experienced this after my husband and I moved to a deprived area of East Jerusalem to start a new team, after spending two years in a relatively safe neighbouring country. The area we felt called to experienced regular flare ups of violence and rioting and no foreigner had lived there in the previous 30 years. To add to this, I suddenly discovered I was pregnant with our first child shortly after we moved there.
When you live in a place, you know which areas to avoid – which days violence might occur, and more importantly you become a part of the community. I knew that my neighbours considered me a sister and would look after me, despite the scary pictures brought up by Google depicting violent acts committed against outsiders that strayed into our community. My parents just saw those pictures, without the reassurance of being surrounded by people that assured us we were part of their family and that they loved us.
My mum, who visited us more regularly, soon got used to where we lived, and drank tea with our neighbours, and received gifts from them. Burning tyres and the threat of tear gas didn’t faze her! For my dad every visit was a stressful experience, and until we moved to a safer area a couple of years into our time there, he was unable to come to our house.
There is always a cost to mission, both for those who go and those who remain behind. It is a big sacrifice for parents to release their children and grandchildren to live in these places, and there are workers who live in far more dangerous places than we did. I am very grateful that my parents supported us in our decision to go, despite their fears, and I want to honour all those that release family members in this way.
Laura – East Jerusalem