I was in a church service, worshipping God. The preacher stopped, and said, ‘there are some here whom God is calling to mission. If you think that’s you, then come to the front.’
My spirit leapt within me as soon as I heard those words, my heart bursting with love for God and a desire to serve Him, to give my whole life over to Him, whatever the cost. I couldn’t stop my legs from moving – I came to the front, weeping tears of worship and humility. The preacher prayed over me, that God would confirm that call, and that I would test it by doing some short-term mission.
In my heart, I resolved to do just that, and decided that that would be the summer when I would begin to test God’s call on my life.
There was just one problem. I was fifteen.
As I searched through all the leaflets and information about mission opportunities, I became increasingly dismayed. There were no opportunities for someone my age. It was all sixteen and above. What about Samuel, and David, and Timothy, called when they were super-young? Did mission agencies not know that God had called me NOW?
Finally I found one. I could barely contain my excitement as I showed it to my mother.
‘Look, Look! World Horizons are doing a short-term mission to Liverpool, and they take anyone aged 14 and over! I think God is calling me to go on this mission trip.’
Immediately, my mother started in with the questions and reservations. Who were World Horizons? What kind of church was it based with?
I answered her impatiently with the information I had.
“Where did you say it was?” she asked.
“Toxteth, Liverpool.” I replied.
“You’re not going,” she said simply.
Unbeknownst to me, Toxteth had been known in the previous decade for its riots, and the footage of looting, stabbing and burning cars had horrified the entire nation. Toxteth was a terrible place to go. You would not send your friend there, let alone your fifteen-year-old daughter.
As all good teenagers do, I wheedled, I whined, I nagged. I also prayed, and hoped that Mum would realise that this was God’s call on my life, so He would protect me.
She eventually agreed and I went to Toxteth on mission. I stepped out in faith, and I had an amazing time. I learnt so much from the love and witness of those who were working in that tough inner-city environment. Through the barely-comprehensible Liverpudlian accents I found people who were poor and bored and who needed the gospel and needed love.
I was stretched in my faith. I did things I thought I’d never be able to do – drama and street evangelism and leading worship. I was still scared, and way out of my comfort zone, but I saw God use us, in our weakness and youth. I had stepped out, and God had caught me and led me on.
It took me almost twenty years and becoming a mother myself to realise that the person who had most stepped out in faith was not me but my mother.
It is one thing to give your life to God’s service, to say to God, ‘here am I, send me’, but it is the deeper and more costly sacrifice to say of your daughter, ‘here she is, send her.’ I am thankful for the faith of my Mum to trust in God for me. Young and naive and eager as I was, she recognised my heart for God and desire to serve and she helped fan into flame the gift of God in me.
True discipleship is hazardous. Discipleship always involves sacrifice and trust in God, but for those of us who are parents, there is a even greater challenge here: If God calls, will we let them go, whatever the cost?
Deep down, are we prepared to trust God with our children?
I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. To discover more about the book and to read others’ Hazardous stories, click here.
Also linking with Life Unmasked and WIP Weds.
Over to you:
- Have you ever stepped out in faith like this?
- If you are a parent, what do you think of the challenge of trusting God with your children?
- Is it easier to say ‘Here am I, send me’ than ‘Send him/her’?
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Tanya – I came across this blog through Libby McCutcheon and read it as I had written a blog inspired on a similar theme some time back. I am now living in South Sudan, and at one stage it looked like we were to have a group of 18-19 year olds coming to visit us. I am aware that the media portrays a very negative view of this beautiful country, but the area where i am is very calm. It was before the referendum, so all along we were saying, ‘we do not know what will happen, and should we need to cancel your visit, we will, there is no way that myself, my supervisor or Bishop would allow the youngsters to come if we felt in any way it was unsafe….’ we had also had a number of trips of similar aged young people to our town, so it wasn’t something very new. Sadly, there was one mother who could not bring herself to trust what we said, the whole trip fell through, much to the huge disapointment of my friends here, who were devastated that people did not want to visit the country. I have been a children’s worker for well over 20 years now, I have not been blessed with a husband and children, so I know I am in an ‘interesting’ position to comment on this stuff and know that it must be hard. However in working for so many years with children and young people, I see the strength of faith, and how the Lord works through them. But I also have wondered where the point of letting go and allowing God becomes stronger for parents and caregivers is….I would love to see family missions happen too, so younger children can also be a part of what God is doing in other places. Well done for raising this, tough though I am sure it must be, hope it blesses many families!
Thanks so much for commenting, Ruth! I feel like I know lots about you from hearing my Mum talk about you, so it’s lovely to see you on here!
It’s great to get a missionary’s perspective on this. I know that it’s tricky to balance the needs of your children and the deep desire to protect them with the command to go- and it’s good to hear abut how it affects those from the ‘other side’. I sympathise with the mother who freaked out, but I am also troubled by the message that the cancelling of the trip ends up communicating to those at the receiving end of mission – we’ll help you, but only at minimal cost to ourselves…? I don’t know if I’m being too harsh here, because often foreigners are more vulnerable than nationals and require extra protection. I can certainly see that it causes significant hurt though at not being ‘trusted’ by the team coming, when you as a receving country have had to put so much trust in them.
I really appreciated having to think again through these issues from the ‘other side’ – thanks so much for sharing!
“I would love to see family missions happen too, so younger children can also be a part of what God is doing in other places.”
Ruth, that’s why I wrote my current book. It’s all about taking your family on missions trips. I agree–the ability to see and do this with your kids is blessing beyond what most people can imagine, and the greatest thing holding them back is fear. And jut not knowing it’s possible. I’m so glad there are agencies that take 15-year-olds! It’s even better to take the whole family!
well thanks for that Jill – I just looked for you on amazon and downloaded it! It’s something at some stage I want to talk to my organisation about…. who knows where it can lead! Thanks for the tip! When I was doing my children’s ministry diploma, my research was looking into how children are involved in mission – not mission TO children – which is of course very valid, but mission WITH children – not surprsingly if I remember rightly – and it was only a very basic study – my first so not very great either – but – the majority of church leaders were saying that children should be involved, but hardly any were actually doing anything about it. It’s a real missing area I think.
I am sure it can’t be easy as a parent to let your child go, and somehow I am not sure the age makes a difference, I was 32 when I moved here 4.5 years ago….and I am sure it was something my mother had to work through, made worse I think for her as I am single. At least she has not visited here and met my friends and can visualise where I am, so although news it still negative, she’s happier I think knowing that news only shares one angle. We do have a team of 16 year olds interested, and once I know that the parents are on board, I will talk with friends here to see they are happy, and to arrange things.
Love your story and where you took it. It surprised me and you are so right. It is much harder to turn our children over and trust, than it is to trust for ourselves sometimes. Like these posts inspired by the synchroblog, I may have to join the fun. You look adorable in that photo btw.
Thank you for your kind words – yes, I have also really enjoyed reading these synchroblogs! (and thanks for the photo compliment – I’m not gonna lie, it is one of the better ones of me as a teenager…)
Have been thinking of you and holding you in prayer. Much love. X
This post went straight to my heart. Wow! After having our first child this summer, there is so much truth in your concluding thoughts. I shared the cliff notes version with my wife and her jaw just about dropped. Yes, God does indeed ask us to hold loosely to what we hold most dear, trusting him to care for them. Thank you for living as a faithful disciple and for so generously sharing your story!
Thanks so much for your kind words – I’m so glad it connected with you! I remember feeling similarly challenged when getting my son dedicated – it was that sense of truly entrusting him to God when everything in my hormones and being was saying, ‘no! He’s mine! Not yours!’
I’m really grateful for the prompt you gave and the thoughts that your book so far got me thinking about discipleship.
“It took me almost twenty years and becoming a mother myself to realize that the person who had most stepped out in faith was not me but my mother.”
This sentence took my breath away – how profound! I can only imagine now what it did to the hearts of my parents when I felt God leading me to take a trip to Scotland…alone! Parenthood…truly hazardous for believers. Great post!
Thanks so much for your words. I can definitely relate to suddenly thinking, ‘oh, my parents must have really freaked out at that!’
Thanks for your encouragement – I loved your post today.
I am currently reading Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas and he talks about the same thing. Praying God’s will for our children may call us to obedience that stretches us. To fully allow our children to be who God made them to be- we may be called to sacrifice far more than we ever imagined.
To allow our children to do something risky, even dangerous.
Great post, thank you for sharing. God bless you.
Ah! I hadn’t heard of that book – it sounds like a challenging read…
Thanks so much for stopping by today.
“It is one thing to give your life to God’s service, to say to God, ‘here am I, send me’, but it is the deeper and more costly sacrifice to say of your daughter, ‘here she is, send her.’ ”
Yes. That is so true. I have thought about that with my sons. I would love for them to live sacrificially… I think. It is much easier to think that than to live it. I wonder how I will respond when they are grown. I hope I have the courage to say yes.
Thanks for sharing your story.
“I would love for them to live sacrificially…I think” – yes! I’m totally with you on that one! It has really made me think about the sacrifice of letting go. So often we just think about the sacrifices we make as parents in the looking after, rather than the releasing.
I hope I also have the courage to say yes in the future…
Thank you so much for stopping by
Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing! I loved it when you recognized, many years later, that the one who had stepped out in faith the most was your Mother…you are so right…we don’t understand this unless we have kids of our own, but it is easier to say, “Here I am, Lord, send me” than “Here she/he is, Lord, send her/him…my child” gosh…just thinking about it makes my heart skip a beat. Have a blessed day! and thanks again. I’m visiting from WIP
Oh – it makes my heart skip a beat too! It really does…
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Both times I have baptised our sons, I have blubbed not at the baptism itself but the words of commission.
Do not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified.
Fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ
against sin, the world and the devil,
and remain faithful to Christ to the end of your life.
May almighty God deliver you from the powers of darkness,
restore in you the image of his glory,
and lead you in the light and obedience of Christ.
These are the hardest words for a parent to speak, to commit their children into the Lord’s hands to do with what He wants. Oh that our boys would be called by God to fight valiantly for him and to to remain faithful to the end of their lives. But to fight for him and him alone regardless of other calls means accepting that the end of life may come whenever God wills in a place he wills and a circumstance he wills. As a family we have already seen that once for Zachary and that has been both an education and an opportunity to learn what it truly means to accept God’s will for our children.
I was really moved to read this – and it also took me right back to my son’s dedication. I choked up at the promises I was making and, like you, had that huge sense of entrusting him to God.
I feel the wisdom and the sacrifice in your words, coming as they do from a place of real cost and overwhelming love for all your boys. I am so struck by how well you love them, and am humbled by your commitment to entrust them to God. Thank you so much- this really spoke to me.