Sheepishly, she sat, not speaking. The panel of missionaries included her husband, and she loyally sat beside him being supportive, but her body language gave the impression she wasn’t comfortable up in front of the crowd.

Bradley Burg, her husband, spoke of how they got involved in missions in their home church. One thing led to another and they found themselves selling everything they had and moving to Mexico to serve as missionaries. 

He spoke of how difficult it was in the earlier years, then asked his wife to tell a story. Until that moment more than two hours into the night, she hadn’t spoken or even looked out into the congregation. From beginning to end, she kept our full attention. I’ll attempt to retell her story below.

She walked by and saw her daughter sitting on her bed with her Bible open, crying. The young teen had been reading and searching for answers, begging God for answers. However, she didn’t even know what the questions were. So, there she sat, laboring over scripture.

After all, she and her siblings were plucked up from home and taken to a foreign land. No friends around. No other family. All were cramped in tiny spaces with little privacy. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement.

Her parents’ choice to enter the mission field impacted her. 

She didn’t understand why, and she didn’t know what God was doing. So, she cried out to Him, begging for answers to unknown questions. She simply hated life as it was and felt like her only hope was to plead with God.

Mom walked over to her and sat down, crying with her. 

The reality screamed at her. Their children were struggling. Their children weren’t doing well. Her daughter felt hopeless and helpless, knowing only to reach out to God. All the mother could do was cry and pray with her.

We don’t always think about the sacrifices the kids of missionaries have to make. Yes, we know the whole family sacrifices. But it’s disturbing to think about how the choices of missionary parents can impact their kids. 

When we hear stories like this, we tend to get frustrated or even angry with those parents and want to protect the children and keep them away from such hardships.

Another missionary earlier in the night had mentioned a man in Libya said to him, “don’t take away our gift of poverty.” 

Sometimes people in impoverished countries cherish their poverty because it keeps them close to God and closer together. Sometimes people in wealthy countries, such as ours, move further from God and each other as we accumulate more and more. That concept is what sparked these missionaries to Mexico to tell the story of their child.

The lady continued by saying their little girl grew up and married. Her marriage became toxic. By all accounts it was horrible.

As it was clearly failing, the now-grown former missionary child kept with her habit she learned while struggling in the earlier years on the mission field. She cried, but she cried begging God for answers. She cried over her open Bible, seeking said answers. Night after night, morning after morning, day after day, this is all she knew to do.

That habit got her through it all. Today, that marriage is now healthy and strong and thriving. It wasn’t easy in those early years, but she gained the necessary tools while struggling as a young teen on the mission field.

Thank God for the hard times when He pulls us closer and teaches us!

(See 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

•••

Jeff Adams is pastor for Paramount Christian Church. His column appears weekly in the Nisqually Valley News. Email him at jeff@paramountchristian.org.

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