How to Talk to Your Parents about Moving Overseas - Radical

How to Talk to Your Parents about Moving Overseas

Once you realize that God might be calling you to go overseas, you will need to begin having conversations with those close to you. Sitting down with your pastors can be encouraging and enlightening, and the questions and comments from friends might make for a great time. But for many aspiring missionaries, one conversation can be more daunting than the rest: sitting down with your parents.

As you’re preparing to share your desire to serve overseas with your parents, it’s important to realize that each family is different, and if you are called by the Lord, he will sustain you.

Be Transparent About Your Aspirations to Go Overseas

When you communicate with clarity, you allow your parents to have clear expectations and a better understanding of where you believe the Lord is leading you to serve.

It can be helpful to clarify what type of cross-cultural work you hope to take part in. For example, you may desire to spend a summer serving overseas for a few months in order to support a missionary that your church partners with. Others may want to go for a few years and collaborate with other churches in a difficult-to-reach area. Some may even aspire to spend the foreseeable future overseas committing to raise their family on the mission field or among the unreached.

Be sure to share that these desires may change and evolve over time and invite them into that process. And let me encourage you to be patient with the process. It’s possible and likely that your parents can’t see what you have been through during the years and months leading up to this conversation, and even including them in it might cause you to rethink or reconsider some of your assumptions. It can all be a part of what God uses to confirm his will for your life.

Let Them Ask Questions About Your Desire to Go Overseas

After sharing your desire to serve in cross-cultural ministry work, give your parents space to process this news and ask questions. By the time you have this conversation with your parents, you have likely had months or years to process this desire with friends and mentors. Give them time to process their own questions and feelings. By doing this, though it might be more uncomfortable to you, you honor them (Ephesians 6:2.)

In my own experience, it took a long time for my parents to process my decision. Whereas I hoped my parents would ask all of their questions on the first day and then support my decision, it took them time to think through this news. Slowly, they were able to start asking questions about my desire to serve overseas.

Whereas I hoped my parents would ask all of their questions on the first day and then support my decision, it took them time to think through this news.

Unfortunately, these conversations would often come at the time when I least expected them. Sometimes, they would ask me questions about my desire at the lunch table or while I was working on something else. During this time, try to understand that this is a difficult calling for them to deal with. As parents, they are likely going through a rollercoaster of emotions as many of their expectations about your life begin to shift.

Invite Them Into Your Call to Go Overseas

When possible, try to invite them into your calling. My parents are Christians but never thought of having a missionary in their own family. For them, this seemed unlikely, because they are part of a generation that saw many foreign missionaries move their families to Brazil. In their mind, Brazil is a mission field, not a mission force. Inviting them to play an active role in my journey made them more aware of the needs around the world.

My parents took steps to understand my calling by attending a missions conference and visiting a New Tribes Mission Bible school. These experiences helped them to understand what mission work actually looked like and helped them to feel a part of my call.

My dad often says that even though he has been a Christian for many years, he would have never understood the missions world as he understands it now if it wasn’t for my involvement, my friends, and the journey that started when we started talking.

As you speak with your parents, try to move slowly but consistently. Little by little, speak with them about your call. This can be a frustrating time for you and your parents, but remember to bring them to God in your prayers. He is the one who has called you and he will open doors for you to serve him.

Anderson Vieira spent three years on the Logos Hope Ship with Operation Mobilization and studied theology with New Tribes Mission Brazil. He is married to his wife, Mechi.


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