Parents of Missionaries
How to thrive and stay connected when your children and grandchildren serve cross-culturally
Cheryl Savageau and Diane Stortz
Authentic Publishing, 2008, 286 pp., ISBN 978-1-934068-39-7
Cheryl Savageau is a professional clinical counselor and Diane Stortz was a parent of a missionary for six years. Together they founded a support group for parents of missionaries and the National Network of Parents of Missionaries (www.pomnet.org). The book combines a parent's personal journey and a counselor's professional insight. The majority of the book provides counsel for the losses parents face when their adult children move far away.
The book is particularly useful for parents not overly familiar with missions and missionary life. One section helps POMs understand the issues and challenges their missionary faces in their calling, preparation, and overseas living. Other sections deal with maintaining good communications, being a long-distance grandparent, helping your missionary while on furlough, visiting your missionary on the field, and even helpful tips for traveling internationally.
They encourage parents to appreciate, be inspired by, learn about, pray for, actively participate in, and promote the ministry God has given the missionary, but I would have liked to see more emphasis and enthusiasm in this realm.
"When God invites a son or daughter into missions, He also invites the parents." (7) For many, it isn't easy. Most POMs experience both joy and sorrow. Your invitation is to let them go, give them your blessing, communicate your support, and to connect with God and others for the support you need.
POMs experience loss. They are often afraid to share their feelings because they feel selfish and wrong. However, "emotions do not reflect character." (26) Grief is a natural response to loss. It helps us confront and deal with life's unwelcome realities. Social support can be of great help.
Relating to young adult children who are separating from home and developing their own lives is stressful in itself. Having them move far away magnifies the stress. But the parent/adult-child bond is often strong enough to help them work out their difficulties over time. Parents often struggle with a different life in the empty nest. "God has plans not only for the lives of young missionaries but also for each stay-behind parent (Jeremiah 29:11)." (66)
Parents are often faced with additional life stresses at the same time: aging or dying parents, health issues, retirement, moving, etc. Admit your struggles and take proactive steps to address your feelings. "The longer we live, the more we lose." (85)
"One POM received a note from her son-in-law, a missionary in a remote part of Zaire, that said, 'I hope you are not too upset with me dragging your daughter and grandchildren halfway around the world.' She wrote back, 'I dont' think of it as you taking my daughter and grandchildren off to the ends of the earth. I think of it as God sending them there and then being loving enough to send a strong man like you along with them.'" (90)
"I told my two grandchildren about the G'ma and Pappa Moon. Every time the full moon is in the sky we think about each other and remember each other in prayer, because the moon is not only looking down on them but the same moon is looking down on G'ma and Pappa." (235, a POM)
* * * * * *
Your comments and book recommendations are welcome.
To discontinue receiving book notes, hit Reply and put Discontinue in the text.