I am on my way to Thailand and Cambodia for the next couple of weeks. I asked my wife, Monique, if she would write down how she handles my leaving like this. I appreciate her heart and willingness to let me go serve Jesus like this. It truly is a ministry to the universal church to let me go. I hope many of you can find comfort in her words of trust in our God. My wife regularly blogs at www.bookmoms.org. Check out her ministry of reviewing Christian and secular kids book through the lens of the gospel.
It was early November, 1999. Our first child was due to be born on December 21st, and Thad was headed to Russia. I can't tell you how many overseas trips he has made since then, but this trip (and the subsequent trip in June of 2000) was to have a great impact on me and our family for years to come.
Was it difficult to have him leave? Certainly. Yet I was excited for him. What a great opportunity to minister to the church in Russia and be part of spreading the gospel there. I am so thankful for those opportunities the Lord has provided him to minister in many different parts of the world. He has used these trips to stretch our faith. We have dear brothers and sisters in Christ thousands of miles away. While I have never met some of these people, they have captured my heart and I pray for them. Because of Christ, the bonds of friendship run deep within our hearts. I would never have known their stories or be inspired by their devotion to Christ if Thad had not had these opportunities. They have encouraged me and caused me to grow, and I can't wait to see them in heaven one day!
From those first trips, I also learned another valuable lesson. While I longed to be able to travel with Thad and meet these people and minister to them, it just wasn't possible (maybe someday it will be). So how could I minister to them? What role could I play in these trips? It soon became evident to me that I too could, in a small way, be a part of spreading the gospel overseas. On occasion, people have expressed to me how difficult they think it would be for them to allow their husband to go overseas. Thankfully, I have very little struggles with worry and during these trips, I rest in the plans of the Creator. He is just as 'in charge' in Russia or Cambodia as He is in charge in Ohio.
While I have struggled with these thoughts, I've never once heard anyone express to me how difficult it must be for Thad to leave his family to go minister. As I said, those first two trips were significant. During his first trip I was pregnant with our first child. When he left for his second trip, our son was about six months old. It was as we were preparing for his second trip that it became very clear to me that my ministry and the ministry our family would take on was to allow Thad to freely go whenever and wherever opportunities presented themselves. It wasn't easy for him to leave, so I needed to make it as easy as possible for him to go.
If I am anxious and worried, it affects him and his ministry. If I complain and wonder 'why he has to leave,' it hinders him and the spread of the gospel. The ministry I and our children can have is to send him off with great joy, counting it a privilege that we can help in this way. We want Thad to leave without hesitation or a second thought. When an opportunity presents itself, I don't want his first thought to be "I don't know how my family will handle this." We want him to have the freedom to run through the doors God opens, knowing that we support him in every way.
My ministry to others is to send my husband freely to minister the gospel, knowing and trusting that we want him to go without worry or selfish thoughts. While Thad is away for these twelve days, we will pray. We will pray for him and those he will be ministering with and to. We will pray prayers of thanksgiving for the opportunity he has and prayers of expectation that God works through him. We have sent a piece of our hearts with him and we can't wait to hear the stories of what our amazing Savior will do!
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)