"So... you are really going to take your kids over there...?" says a casual inquirer.

And I know exactly what she's thinking: Ebola. AIDS. Malaria. Wars, and rumors of wars.

I smile, and say: “It's really not that bad...”

But that is, actually, the short answer. Because I think she's not really interested in the days, the months, the years of struggle that lie behind MY one sentence. But what I really want to say? Do you want to hear the full story?

Dear lady, you have NO idea. We have friends who were robbed at gun point, and those who lost a child to malaria. Some who came breathtakingly close to losing their baby to diarrhea. Some who were kidnapped by a radical religious group. So yeah, that's the obvious scary stuff. And then there's all the other stuff. Such as making your kids grow up the only white kids in a village. And then uprooting them every couple years to take them “home” to the other side of the world, a place that is completely foreign to them. We have talked with people who lost their children to something much more invisible and therefore even more sinister – a bitterness over having been raised as third culture kids, over having parents who are ever occupied with other people's needs. A resentment for the lack of good education. Or that feeling of not belonging anywhere, because they were raised everywhere.

Yes, we really are taking our kids over there.

And no, we're not doing it because we think it's the most common sense place to raise kids. Because it's just, you know, really neat, and stuff. And such a good Christian thing to do.

This issue has a way of leaving the “romance of missions” far, far behind. I do actually believe there is such a thing as that romance, and for my first two years overseas, I absolutely reveled in it. I was single then, and having a blast. Of course life got tough, but it was the kind of tough that's exciting, you know? I got sick, too. But a hot case of malaria in a mud hut... that's the real deal. I confess to having such a romantic mind that secretly, I even thought that dying from malaria would be sort of.... glamorous! Heroic, you know. I wouldn't have minded.

Enter, the two little girls God has given us. And a call to a long-term assignment in the bush of Africa.

Suddenly, I have to re-think all this in a new light. Truths that we sometimes speak so glibly suddenly become acutely important; God is in charge. God loves us. We can trust Him.  He shows us His will, and we are safe in His will.

I've held no end of conversations with myself. You know? People in America lose their children to sickness – just staying here wouldn't guarantee that they'll be OK. There are other dangers here – on the roads, maniacs with guns in shopping malls... If we know God wants us to go and we stay against His will, we are in more danger. In the West, there's the danger of materialism, self-sufficiency, unbelief.

Right. But in the end, what if we do end up losing something, or even someone, because we chose to live in the African bush? Will those arguments hold up?

I don't know. For now, I know that I go back to the core, the very base of my faith; the solid ground that my soul is rooted on. I find I am desperate to know God more, to walk with Him more intimately, to KNOW this God who sent His Own Son into unbelievable danger. I don't have to reason everything out; it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that we walk with God, today, right now. The future has never been ours. God holds it in His hand. Doesn't that sound so cliché? I promise you, it is not. And the peace that comes with it is absolutely real, too, and absolutely awesome.

I know whom I have believed, and He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him. Trusted unto Him. Trust – this is my watchword these days.

Do you want to hear a story? This is a picture that God gave me last time we were in Africa. My baby was a year old. She was the sweetest little muffin, and she absolutely adored the baby doll we had given her for her birthday. Took it everywhere, clutched under her fat little arm. One evening I felt God was gently asking me – What if you told her one day to go down the stairs with her baby? She knows she can't hold on to her baby and the railing at the same time. What if you were right there, but she refused to let you carry the baby down because she was afraid you'd drop it?

I almost laughed, it was so funny. I gave her that little dolly, didn't I? I can for sure carry it down the stairs.

Oh... Yeah.

I get what You're saying, Lord.


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