It’s hard to shift from parenting your little kid to parenting your adult child. The faith and trust required to let go and release their lives to God could likely move mountains. It can be immeasurably painful to arrive at this stage, wondering what advice you should give and when you should bite your tongue.
As joyous as it is to see our children choose ministry and missions, it is scary too. You must actively choose to shut off the rush of worry and concern. You must trust God with your most beloved possession: your child.
At Christar, we understand that! A lot of us have been those adult children heading off to the field with our nervous parents bidding us teary farewells. Many of us have sent our own grown sons and daughters to faraway lands, proud and terrified all at once. We understand the hesitance of many mothers and fathers in letting go, even though we know it’s exactly what must happen and are thrilled to watch our children follow God’s leading.
As we equip our short-term workers for the field, a piece of that preparation is helping their parents feel at peace and entrust their adult children to God. Our hope is that you are encouraged, supported and confidently informed through this process. Below are some questions frequently asked by our short-term workers’ parents.
What will you do to prepare my child?
All short-term workers attend an orientation called Blaze at our home office. During that time, your child will learn things like how to travel safely, cultural do and don’ts, security concerns, cultural specifics for women and much more. He or she will participate in a session on how to learn languages as well.
At Blaze each short-term worker meets with someone who is familiar with the country where that individual is headed. Also, every Christar worker (including short-termers) is equipped with an emergency number to reach Christar in the U.S. should they require this while they are overseas.
Is it safe?
We take every possible step to make sure your child is prepared, educated and aware during their trip. While we can’t promise safety, we can assure you we do everything in our power to ensure their well-being as we would for our own children.
In addition to participating in Blaze, Christar short-term workers step into teams that teach them the “rules” for the areas in which they serve—everything from transportation to cultural safety to communication. These long-term workers will help your child have a positive experience on the field.
Since our long-term teams understand the language, politics and culture of the areas in which they serve, they’re able to keep tabs on the current situation and make sure that each person on the team is as protected as possible. We won’t send your short-term worker to a place where there isn’t the support of a long-term team.
Each of our long-term teams also has a contingency plan and has thought through issues that might arise in their country, including political conflict, a natural disaster or a plethora of other hypothetical scenarios. If required, workers may evacuate a field due to concerns for safety. Though we could never guarantee safety from the unknown, we can be certain that our long-term workers are monitoring potential issues, are prepared for emergencies and will assist your child who has joined them on the field.
How can I support my child through this process?
First of all, pray for them! We prioritize prayer at Christar. In fact, each of our short-term workers is required to gather 10 people who commit to praying daily for them. (Our long-term workers must each gather 100 daily prayer partners.)
Additionally, you can encourage them to complete their application documents in a timely manner. But please, don’t do the work for them! This is a great learning experience for short-term workers. Allow them to make their own decisions, and don’t helicopter-parent them—as tempting as that is in times like this.
Another tangible way you can help is to make sure your child has a credit card. We require short-term workers to have one before they head overseas in case of an emergency. Some airlines do not accept anything except a valid credit card for payment.
Regarding support-raising, please don’t personally pledge 100 percent of the funds your child needs for his or her trip. It’s great if you can give a portion of the total, but please allow them to go through the process of finding others to support them as well!
We’ve heard parents say that allowing their child to pursue missions has given them opportunity to grow and trust God as well. If you hear anything, hear this: You can help your child in this process by trusting God and modeling trust to your child. We know this process can be tough for parents!
Can we visit our child when they are on the field?
The short answer: possibly.
It depends on the length of the stay and the rules for the location. The long-term team leaders would need to be consulted to see if this would be feasible. In some locations, it might put a strain on the team as they would need to attend to your needs on top of the short-termer’s. For other locations, it might present a safety risk. Or, it’s possible that a visit from a parent would be welcome. It just depends!
We welcome parents’ involvement and desire to gain a vision for what their short-termer is doing, so we don’t discourage a visit to the field if it’s appropriate. But the feasibility of a visit varies based on numerous factors, including the length of the short-term trip, the purpose of the parent’s visit and the team’s situation.
Regardless, please don’t make plans for a visit without consulting your child, who should then talk to their supervisor and teammates. Remember to let your kid have the best chance to grow in this short-term opportunity.
Is there someone I could speak to about my concerns, and who could answer specific questions?
Absolutely! The best method is to ask your short-termer to connect you with their mobilizer. That person has been working with your child through this whole process and will be a great source for answers to questions you might have, as well as be able get an answer from someone else at Christar if your inquiry is beyond their expertise.
Furthermore, if parents want the opportunity to visit Christar’s home office in Texas, we are happy to arrange a visit. You’ll see the work that goes into providing a safe, successful experience for our workers. With over 110 years of experience as an organization, we have been there, done that!
What kind of health insurance and medical care will my child have?
A short-term worker is provided with travel insurance that will cover up to one million dollars. This covers medical and political evacuation. If a short-term worker prefers another travel insurance, they can opt out of Christar’s travel insurance, provided they can prove their travel insurance covers medical and political evacuations up to one million dollars.
Medical care differs from country to country. Beyond the travel insurance, short-term workers must have their own medical coverage. (Or they can opt to use Christar’s.)
Our Human Resources department can answer any additional questions and you are welcome to contact them. Or, have your child get in touch with HR and help them think through what to ask. This could be a great opportunity to help them understand this process.
Where will my child get the financial support?
You could help your child brainstorm a list of people they could ask for support—friends, family and church contacts, for example. Short-term workers are required to have daily prayer partners as well, so they will need to find 10 people who will commit to praying for them every day.
Please note, for reasons of security, our workers are not permitted to do any fundraising promotion via crowdsourcing or social media.
What do the costs for a short-term trip include?
All of the costs listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change. The estimates include food, lodging, visas and ground travel. Unless noted otherwise, listed costs do not include airfare, travel insurance, immunizations, Christar short-term training (e.g., Blaze) or personal items such as souvenirs. Costs to obtain a passport, if your child does not already have one, will also be additional. We encourage short-term participants to raise support for all of their ministry costs and fees.
Books we recommend for parents of workers:
- When God Calls Us to Dangerous Places by Kate McCord
- Releasing Your Children to the Lord by Gunila Baumann
- Scaling the Wall: Overcoming Obstacles to Missions Involvement by Kathy Hicks
- Parents of Missionaries: How to Thrive and Stay Connected When Your Children and Grandchildren Serve Cross-Culturally by Cheryl Savageau and Diane Stortz
- When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
- www.pomnet.org (Contains blogs, links and other resources for parents of missionaries.)
- askamissionary.com and goservelove.net (Both have a variety of questions and answers related to the entire missions experience, including questions relevant to parents and the tension between honoring parents and obeying God when there is a difference in opinion.)
- thetravelingteam.org/articles (Contains helpful suggestions for support-raising and information on a wide range of missions-related topics.)
A Final Note
It’s scary to imagine your kid off in a faraway country. We know this can be hard for a parent. Our prayer for you is that you rely on the Lord and trust Him in this process. He loves and cares for your adult child even more than you do!
Short-term missions can be hard for the worker and for their loved ones. Long-term missions can be even more difficult. God is asking your child to take a leap of faith and obey Him. Help them do that well! Make sure you aren’t holding them back from that obedience.
How great will it be if you meet someone in eternity who trusted in Christ because of your child’s opportunity to interact and share the love of Christ with the least-reached? That person you may know in heaven is part of your ministry legacy too, because you are helping your child get to the field and love people who have never heard of the hope they have in Jesus.
Thank you for your role in reaching the least-reached!