Free from a Mother's Fear :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Free from a Mother's Fear

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“Are you willing to raise children on the mission field?”

I was not expecting that question. I was sitting at the GFA home office for my missionary candidate interview. I was engaged to my future husband and planning to join him on the mission field after our marriage.

I was expecting questions about my salvation or God’s leading toward missions. Not about children! I had not seriously considered the challenges of raising children on the mission field.

“I am willing to,” I said,” but I honestly don’t think I know what that means.”

I didn’t. I still don’t. I was able to answer that way because I was confident that God was leading us. As I recall, they accepted my answer, and we moved on to other questions.

Mom brain went into overdrive

Recently, that old question came alive when we found out that we are expecting a baby. Very quickly, my “mom brain” went into overdrive.

“That means the baby is due this summer. We are done with deputation. We may have my visa soon. Does this mean that I will have my first child on the mission field?”

That thought scared me. My two-week visit to the mission field had hardly even begun to prepare me for something as challenging as navigating hospitals and doctors in a foreign country.

“How can I travel while I am pregnant? How can I even pack when I feel so sick? Is it possible for me to get used to foreign food when I can hardly eat my normal diet? What about the climate? It’s hot year-round!”

“What will labor be like in those hospitals? Will I be able to understand what the medical staff are saying? When I visited our future mission field, everyone stared at me everywhere I went. Will I be a spectacle at the hospital? Will every medical staff member stop by to stare at this white woman and her baby?”

“What if there are complications? What if my baby is born with a life-threatening condition? What if I have unusual problems? Are they really equipped to help us?”

“What will I do without the help of my mom, sisters, or friends? Can I keep my baby safe in an unfamiliar climate, culture, and place?”

How could I answer these questions? Even worse, how could I cope with the fear that swirled around my mind and heart?

Don’t allow fear to drive ministry decisions

For the last few months, I have been involved in a ladies’ Bible study. We met soon after I found out that I was pregnant. Our topic for the next two meetings was going to be health and fitness. In my morning-sick state, I was not sure how much would apply to me. My struggles were pretty basic. Stay hydrated! Eat! Sleep! What could I learn from this session?

I was wrong. We looked at the example of Paul, and then our teacher summarized the reading.

“Paul didn’t forfeit ministry for the sake of health.”

That was all I needed to hear. Was I willing to let my fears get in the way of ministry? God wanted me to offer my body (and my health and comfort) as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). Yes, I had done that before, but I needed to do it again.

“I am willing, Lord, for You to lead us to the mission field before our baby arrives.”

The example of Jesus

The Lord had more to show me. As we entered the holiday season, the old familiar Christmas story held new and wonderful lessons for me as a pregnant mother.

Had I considered where Jesus was born? Not in a sterile, modern hospital. Not surrounded by friends or family. Perhaps even without a knowledgeable, helpful, sympathetic woman! The Father sent His only precious, beloved Son into the world, and Jesus was born where cattle, donkeys, and sheep feed. Look at the birth of the Son of God! Far from home and family. In a stable. Primitive, at best. Dirty and dangerous, at worst.

The Father preserved and protected the lives of Jesus and Mary in a situation where so much could have gone wrong.

Who do I think I am? Do I have the right to demand more from my Father than what He gave His own dear Son? I am not owed my “dream experience.” I do not have the liberty to tell God exactly how, when, and where our baby should be born. It is presumptuous to think that God owes me a complication-free, comfortable pregnancy, delivery, and recovery when even His Son was born in a cattle shed.

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Matthew 10:24).

In Whom am I trusting ?

Even if I could micromanage all the details of pregnancy and delivery, could I ensure that everything would go well? Can the best midwife or doctor promise that? In Whom am I trusting? Do I trust the modern, educated hospital staff more than I trust the Lord?

Isn’t God the one who gives and preserves life? He can overrule a flaming fiery furnace and bring His people through without even a hair of their heads being singed (Daniel 3). On the flip side, the most powerful and wealthy man on earth could not even retain his sanity when God decreed otherwise (Daniel 4). God rules.

A clarification

Lest anyone misunderstand or take this to an extreme, neither my husband nor our mission board would advocate being careless or haphazard in health situations. In fact, both my husband and mission board directors have encouraged the possibility of staying in the United States for the birth of our first baby.

The teacher of our ladies’ Bible study was also balanced in what she said about health. She pointed out, “Paul didn’t despise health remedies. Take advantage of what God has provided.” We are responsible to be wise and careful in our decisions, but we can (and must) be free from fearful decision-making.

The place of rest

There is rest here. Sweet rest in the arms of a Father who loves me and loves our child. My Father will act according to His wisdom, His plan, and His timing. Whether in abundant deliverance from trouble or in grace for suffering, His way is best.