In 18 months, God willing, my wife, children and I will be in a third world country sharing Christ with some of the most unreached people left on earth.
My kids are ages six, four and three. They will be a little bit older by the time we leave but they will still be young and we are trying to prepare them for this monumental change in lifestyle. They know the name of the country to which we are going and get excited every time we mention it but they don’t really grasp the enormity of the situation; at least not fully. We recently moved out of our house and into an apartment community to minister and had to give up our swing set and our backyard. They can’t run around in our 2nd floor apartment. They know why we are here and that we sacrificed those things to serve God. They are beginning to get glimpses of what it means to count the costs.
The other night we were talking about our future and my son was very excited that we would be telling people about Jesus.
I felt the need to tell him that while it is an absolute privilege to spread the Gospel, there are people in this world who do not want to hear it and may even be mean to us because of it. I saw the confusion in his face. How could someone not want to hear about Jesus when he is so good to us? I gathered them up in the living room and pulled out my son’s bible and read out of Acts 17. I read to them how Paul went to Thessalonica to tell people about Jesus. Some people believed but others did not and started a riot. They forced Paul to flee and they treated Paul’s friends badly. I closed the bible and my two boys ran to the bathroom to brush their teeth.
My daughter, however, sat quietly on my lap. She looked up at me in a way I have never been looked at before. She was thinking about the story and taking it to its logical conclusion. She was applying it to herself and I could see the distress on her face.
She said, “Dad, what if I tell people about Jesus and they don’t like me and don’t want to be my friends?”
I wish I could say that my faith was so strong that I didn’t doubt for a second we were doing the right thing; that I looked at her in the eye and quoted scripture about strength in the midst of persecution; that I told her Jesus calls us his friends. No. I felt bad for my little girl. I felt bad that I was going to take her away from a comfortable life. I felt scared for her and wanted to just hold her to keep her safe. I had seen my role in this house as a Paul who would strengthen his family and prepare them for this mission. I saw them as the Timothy’s who would need encouragement to endure hardship.