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by Jacob Ninan
Dear Missionary Kid,
Are you proud of the tag ‘MK’ or do you hate it? I would be happy to hear that you are proud of it, but I can understand it very well if you hate it. A tag is not without meaning, and many times tags are used to insult or make fun of certain groups of people as when they refer to a race. But on the other hand they can make you stand out as a member of an elite group as in the case of ‘the men in blue’ which Indians recognise as referring to the Indian cricket team. ‘MK’ is also an elite group, which is recognised by people who really know what it means. But in many cases, the MKs themselves may take a long time to recognise their special value, especially during their teenage years, and unless they get to meet with some of those who recognise their value, they sometimes end up hating themselves, hating their parents who were the cause of their being MKs and God who apparently watched it happening without intervention. Where are you now, the one who is reading this? Are you struggling with this issue? Let me try to come along side and help you to get your positions clear and to get you going in the right direction.
You might ask who in the world I am to write to you like this. I’ll try to make the long story short. Now I am 60 years old, having retired after 35 years of working in offices and simultaneously trying to work in God’s vineyard by preaching, writing, counselling, etc. But when I was your age I found it very difficult to accept ‘church,’ Bible reading, prayer, etc., which were all very meaningful to my parents. I thought it was all a lot of make-believe and meaningless routines. So at the mature (!) age of 16 I quit going to church! I told my (sad) parents that I did not want to be a hypocrite! I started wondering about whether it had any relevance to my life. After a lot of careful (!) thinking and analysis I came to the conclusion that there was no God. But somehow I was still confused and kept on thinking about it. I then began to think that there might be a God out there but wondered how anyone could know for sure. Later on I came to the logical (!) conclusion that God was there and every religion was pointing to the same God even though they used different names and ways to reach Him.
As I was going through this research and analysis, I went on with my higher studies in college, exposing myself to music, novels and movies as they came along. But I was restless, and I also realised that my life was only becoming more confused than before. Then one day as I was walking along the road I saw a banner outside a church announcing a special meeting for young people. It was already going on as I stood in the periphery curiously watching what was going on. It was ‘testimony time’ and I saw young men coming forward one after another and telling the crowd how Jesus had changed their lives. One young man was addicted to drugs, and try as he might, he could not deliver himself from its clutches. Then he cried out to Jesus and Jesus came and set him free! Another guy was desperate with life and was on his way to the railway tracks to end it all. He met Jesus on the way, and his life was completely turned around!
Now I am not the type that would allow himself to be moved by the crowd. I left the place and went back to my hostel, trying to put aside what I had seen and heard. But it kept coming to my mind that if Jesus could do such things to other people, perhaps He could change my life too. One night I knelt down in my room and told Jesus that if He was willing to change my life, I would be willing to do whatever He told me. I also said that if He thought I was too far gone to help, He should take away my life, because I could not go on living in confusion. I was not bargaining with Him, but, in fact, surrendering to Him. I was not sure what Jesus would do, and so when I went to bed that night I was not sure whether I would get up alive the next morning.
But Jesus took me at my word! Praise God! He started changing my life. All of a sudden a strong desire came into me to read the Bible. I immediately found out where the nearest Christian bookstore was and went to buy books to read. I started going for a prayer meeting among the students (I had mocked them earlier saying that they were all hypocrites!), and all these things began to be meaningful and enjoyable! I did not know many Biblical terms those days, but later on I realised that I was born again!
So there is nothing wrong in having questions in our mind or even refusing to accept things we are not convinced about. As long as we are honest and open in our pursuit of the truth, we are on the right track. So even if there are questions and doubts that trouble you, hang on. There are answers.
What are some of the questions that you ask?
Is it fair that your parents have taken this way of life for themselves and you have to suffer for it?
Your parents have made two essential choices - the first one is to work in God’s battle frontier overcoming the enemy, winning people for Christ and enlarging the kingdom of God, and the other is to face certain hardships, discomforts and limitations in their earthly life as they give focussed attention to their first task. You must not look at the second aspect without appreciating the first.
Remember, Jesus said that it would be a most foolish thing for a man to gain the whole world - money, fame, thrills, etc. - and lose his own soul. You can imagine how one day when everyone stands before God for judgment and how so many people who have made their names in the world in various ways find that they have missed out on the most important thing. I am sure you will not want to be in that group. Imagine how another group of people get applause and recognition from God, the angels and all the people in the kingdom of God for their sacrificial service in God’s army. Is that not the group you want to be in? We all have to make this choice in our life. Some join the special services like your parents, and others may be supporting them from behind the battlefields. But we all have this opportunity to serve God in whatever capacities He has called us to.
Is it fair that your parents are ‘serving God’ and this God leaves you all in such difficult circumstances?
Certainly God is not ‘leaving’ you in such circumstances. He is with you in a special way, watching over you, protecting you, taking care of you and planning for you. He knows that you are now facing many practical difficulties as a result of your parents working in difficult areas. What you are facing now is an occupational hazard, like people working in chemical factories having to face the possibility of chemical pollution. But be sure that God has good plans for you (Je.29:11). As a result of your parents working faithfully in His kingdom, He will make sure that your needs will be taken care of (Ps.37:25).
How is it that other Christians are having a comfortable life?
There is so much of inequality in the world, isn’t there? Sin has corrupted us so much that most people think only about themselves. While people die of famine in some places, others are wasting food or eating luxuriously. Unfortunately this attitude affects Christians too. But instead of finding fault with others or crying ourselves hoarse over the injustice in the world why don’t we do what we can - make our own small little world free from complaining, and demonstrating an attitude of gratitude?
Real heroes are those who have won against odds. Not giving up hope in God in the face of unfulfilled promises from God made Abraham a hero. Overcoming bitterness against brothers with love and mercy made Joseph another hero. Not taking vengeance when he could have, and choosing to honour God’s name made David yet another hero. Will we find our name among such men when our turn comes before the judgment seat of God?
Dear MK, you are truly in an enviable position, from the point of view of eternity. Don’t let the devil fool you with his lies and diversionary tactics. There is a crown made ready for you in heaven. Make sure you show yourself worthy of it.
Your brother Jacob
Published in Care & Serve (April 2009), the newsletter of Missionary Upholders Trust, India
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