By: Scott Hildreth
Over the past several years Southeastern has developed the slogan #iamgoing. This phrase is more than a motto, it is our most celebrated activity. I have personally participated in this (and will continue to do so), however this week is a little different. This week, I put my daughter on an airplane for summer long mission experience in Canada. Watching her walk through the security line forced me to think differently about this slogan. You see, it is easy to be the one going (#iamgoing) but today, I have to ask, “What if you are the one who is not going?” This is a question faced by countless parents, kids, and friends who are left behind when someone goes to the mission field.
- #iamgoing to support the decision and be the best cheerleader possible. The decision to leave home and serve as a missionary takes courage. It may begin as a part of a grand celebration; however, along the way something will not go as planned and doubt can creep in. It is exactly at that moment those not going have an important role to play. We can feed the doubt, or we can continue to support the decision and celebrate the courage and faith.
- #iamgoing to be a little sad. No amount of bravado or spirituality removes the reality of sadness over the separation that comes from the missionary life. God gave us emotions and it would be abnormal to deny them. When someone goes to the mission field it is natural to be sad. We know Jesus was sad. We know Paul was sad. So when we are the ones who do not go, take these emotion to the Lord and let him be the one who comforts.
- #iamgoing to pray a lot. Responding to the missionary call is a decision to join the Lord on His mission. It is a deeply spiritual event. Serving on the mission field is deeply spiritual. [Tweet “Successful evangelism, discipleship, and church planting requires the Lord’s involvement.”] As the one who does not go, we participate in the success of the mission by joining the work through prayer. Paul concluded his second letter to the Thessalonians by asking them to pray for the success of his mission and for his protection. When we you are the one who does not go, join their team. Be a prayer warrior.
- #iamgoing to celebrate the journey and embrace the new daughter who comes back. The missionary journey is life altering. There is no other way of describing it. Long periods of time away from your home culture changes you. New and different experiences change you. Learning to depend on God in chaotic experiences changes you. One of the more difficult aspects of missionary living is coming “back home” and realizing you are different. If you do not go, it can be hard to understand these changes. However, these changes are usually signs of spiritual maturity and growth – not always in the way parents have scripted, but growth nonetheless. Embrace. . . celebrate. . . learn!
- #iamgoing to keep going and keep encouraging others to go – Our kids “Go” because God called them. We want them to go because we want them to obey God in every area of life. As a missiologist and mission mobilizer, my passion is that more people obey and more go. I know it is hard for those who do not go. But we can remember that walking with the Lord is a journey of surrender, even when that surrender means releasing others to go.
Keelan leads the Peoples Next Door project and is a Senior Church Consultant with the Union Baptist Association in Houston, TX. He is working on a PhD in Missiology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In previous years, he spent time as a church planter in West Africa with the IMB and doing ethno-graphic research in Washington, DC with NAMB.