Tuesday, May 13, 2014

6 reasons women give so they don't have to move overseas

One of the things I treasure about living overseas is that people often ask us questions about moving their families overseas. We take our role in this Goliath-sized decision as an honor and take it pretty seriously.

Many of the people we get to talk with are just finishing up college and weighing the options laid out before them. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of these conversations are happening with women. (More on why men are shoving their fingers in their ears when it comes to moving overseas in a later post.)

Here are 6 reasons I've heard as to why, "I just need to hear God more clearly," is code for, "Moving overseas scares the marrow in my bones and so therefore I'll just keep praying so that one day I can have a job in America and not have to get on that plane after all."






1.  God hasn’t called me.

At some point in modern Christendom, we've decided that we cannot hear God unless he visits us as a Siri-spirit and guides us audibly down every alley and stop sign we meet along the way. Certainly he speaks audibly to us at times, but he has also given us two wonderful megaphones to magnify his desires for us. One is Scripture and the other is community. 

If you are on board with the Great Commission, you need to know that God's will is that the nations be reached. With that, we can know 100% that God's will is for people to go overseas. There is confidence in this that if it isn't clear to us what the Lord's will is, serving overseas is. My hope is that more believers would default to going overseas and instead be "called" to stay in America. Unfortunately, the default is to staying in America.


2.  I want to have a husband first. Or, I want to let my kids get a little older and then we'll move.

I find myself often reminding young women that God never promises you a husband. This is a great video addressing singleness on mission.

About the kids things, actually, it is easier for them to acculturate when they don't know any differently. When kids are raised overseas, they don't miss things like 4th of July parades and choir practice because they've never had experience with those things. When you take an older child, sit them down one day, and tell them that you're moving 7,000 miles away from their soccer team, drama club, and best friend, things actually get a lot harder. They play a constant comparison with their new culture. Older kids can move overseas and flourish, but if you are waiting to move until they get a little older, I would say don't wait and move before they have roots established in America. 

3. I just want to get established for a few years and get some work experience.

You will never feel financially stable enough to move overseas, get married, have kids, or die. You just have to do it and then spend lots of time in prayer.



4. My parents will freak out. 

Yes they will. Expect this. They have dreams of bouncing a bubbly 2-year grandson on their knees and baking mud cakes with their grand daughters. You will be taking that from them. They will worry about your health, your safety, and your sanity. 

Parents are going to need time to let you go. Line up all the details you have and let them know you have a plan. Pray with them. Introduce them to someone who has just gotten back from where you are going. Show them how to cook a meal from your new country. At the end of the day, your parents simply want to know you are going to be ok. 


5. I'll do it for a few years and then I'll come back and get a "real" job.

I have some rather large rants in, "Redefining Home," about the lack of long term commitment to be overseas. Reaching the nations isn't an adventure or a hobby. It's a word from our Father in which he promises to be faithful. 

Living overseas is a real job concerning real people. They aren't projects or statistics. They are people. 

Enough on that. 


6.  I could never do that. That kind of life is for people stronger, braver, smarter, and godlier than me. 

If you've ever met me in real life, you wouldn't still be saying this. That aside, most of the men and women living overseas were at times seized in fear and doubt. 

Moses was confident in one thing as he looked at leading the Israelites. He was confident that he couldn't do it. Lead the people, stand up to Pharaoh, cross a river! All God had to do was remind Moses who he was. "I am your God."

He's our God too. He will remain faithful to his children when we do crazy things like pack up our family and move to a foreign culture, language, and people. It's when we forget who God actually is that we allow fear to continue to call the shots. 


5 comments:

  1. This is so encouraging to read! We are raising our kids as missionaries on an Indian Reservation in Washington state so even though we are not "overseas" we are in cross-cultural ministry in every way and all of this aligns with my experiences too. I need to ponder your thoughts on the default assumption being "go" rather than "stay"- it is striking a chord in me as deep truth put in a way I haven't yet heard or thought of so clearly. Thanks for writing this.

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  2. Anonymous12:43 AM

    I do think, in general, that it's important to get some work/life experience before heading overseas. Heading right out after college, saddled with debt, maybe newly married, and totally inexperienced in the real world or with ministry, can be a recipe for disaster. I think waiting about 5 years, more or less, might be more ideal.

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    Replies
    1. These are good, valid concerns. I wrote below a few responses.

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  3. A few things. Most organizations now require newly marrieds to stay in the states for their first year of marriage. I agree, that's a good thing. As for debt, most organizations won't let you go with a certain debt to savings ratio. They want you to pay that down. All that to say, I just had a conversation with someone who just finished college and has debt. She is deciding to come to China and teach English for a few years so that she can pay that down. That's a great way to start learning language and culture while making pretty good money. I realize that's not feasible for everyone, but the fact that she got creative so that she could have her cake and eat it to (so to speak), was really great. I have found that if a college student knows for sure that they want to be overseas, they will learn more "real life" experience by at least being in a foreign culture early on, even if it's not exactly what they'd like to be doing long term.

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