Moving to a country in civil war – a letter to my small children

Today I have the very distinct honor of posting a journal entry my mom wrote in 1988 before our family of six moved to Mozambique, a country in the midst of a brutal civil war.  Over the course of this last month my mom has shared some personal details from her journals about the challenges and joys of raising me and my brothers while the family prepared to move out of our comfort zone.  Whether you are called, or think you may be called, to move out of your financial, geographic, cultural or safe comfort zone, may you be encouraged first and foremost to walk in obedience to Him, even if it costs you more than you think you can bear. 


March 11, 1988

Dear P [age 9], H [7], C [4] and M [2],

I’m sure there are missionary kids who wonder what it was like for their parents in the beginning.  Am I presumptuous to assume you would like to know my thoughts and feelings these first years of our life overseas?  I am compelled to explain:  There was a time when I proudly shirked the “normal”, suburban, American lifestyle.  The Lord has been tearing the pride from me but I am still left with the drive to live life “the hard way”.  When I was a little girl I played “pioneer”.  I would have given anything to have been on the first wagon trains going West.  I was actually mad that the West had been discovered before I arrived on the scene!  But God took care of that.  He began to show me other “Wests” as yet undiscovered.  He showed me scores and scores of people who have never discovered Jesus Christ – the only way to the Father.  It would take pioneers, willing to cross the frontiers of the world, to reach these people with the Gospel for the first time.

So, my “natural tendencies” coupled with the direct commands and teachings of Christ have led me to this point: Lisbon.

Up until now life HAS been a challenge.  I left the suburban lifestyle which, I was beginning to both love and hate, in 1984.  There were the academic challenges of [our training],  the challenges of raising you all through all the moves and changes, the challenges that this all brought to my marriage.  There were financial challenges, learning how to pray, how to serve others, waiting on God and His people to provide money for us to go overseas.  It has been a lot of pressure up til now but it has been a great adventure.  It is the life of a pioneer that I craved.  I would choose no other.  But, although it has been hard and I’ve shed many tears as well as rejoiced often in seeing God use me, I have never been scared stiff.  We have, thus far, been sent to mild places; Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Lisbon.  I have never feared for your lives or mine.

As the time to leave Lisbon draws nearer there is a new emotion swelling in me.  I know I am being asked to finally leave my comfort zone and step out into the REAL unknown.  God wants me to actually be willing to live in a country where children are shot, people are butchered like animals and the human suffering is unspeakable.  Mozambique is about the lowest country on the scale of “desirable places to live”.  I have been heading for Mozambique for ten years now, or more.  Daddy and I always knew it was a suffering place.  I have had fear in the past but, not real fear.  I have felt panicked and terrified the last few days.  I am convinced that the minute we step into Mozambique you children will be taken from me by mad gunmen and we will all die there.  I am not good enough to be a martyr – I keep telling God. 🙂  (Besides, my diary isn’t up to date!)

It will take awhile.  This is a new road I travel but I travel with Him.  Last night I heard myself say to God:  I give myself to you.  You can take my life if it will help further your kingdom — but DON’T take my children.  Well, God answered that one right back.  “M.. A..”, he reminded me, “those children are not yours.  They are mine.  They belong to me.  You gave them each to me as they were born.  You have no right to control their future.”  Yes, my precious P, H, C and M, it is true.  As much as I want to hang on, to cling to you, I have to do the hardest thing I’ve ever yet done.  I have to let you go, let you live in Mozambique if that is where God takes us.  How I love you.  I would gladly give my life for any of you.  I think I would give my life for you before I would die for Jesus’ sake.  That is wrong.  It is idolatry.  I am glad God doesn’t ask things of me that I’m not able to do.

This is getting long and rambling.  I must get to my point which is this:

It is my most earnest prayer and my greatest hope that you, too, will follow Jesus until he takes you out of your comfort zone.  Wherever he takes you, whatever he has you do and with whomever you do it, do it with your WHOLE heart.  Go the second mile.  Live on the edge.  Give Him your life and breath … God gives me glimpses of his hidden treasures as I abide deeper in him.  Mind you, I didn’t say “as I work harder or do more ‘things’ ” but as I ABIDE.

My children, Jesus is coming back.  May he find each one of you watching, praying and serving him with every breath you take.  You are his.  Your Father is a Heavenly one and He will watch over you.

I love you more than words can say.  You are the most precious gifts I have to give to my Lord.  I deliver you into His hands, nail-scarred for you.


9 responses to “Moving to a country in civil war – a letter to my small children”

  1. Wow, How amazing that you can have such insight into your mother’s heart especially during such a monumental time that you must remember! That’s so encouraging to read and then see how God brought your family through the experience. He’s so faithful!

  2. What a great word and what a treasure to have from your sweet mom! I could just “hear” hear saying these things.

  3. Aunt Wilma, thanks for sharing so personally. Yes, this journal entry was convicting on many levels, which is why I was so glad to be able to share it with others, so they would be challenged and encouraged to live with an eternal perspective on the things that matter, including our dear children. And yes, I am blessed to have such a mom!

  4. Heidi,
    This brought me to tears- tears of sadness that I cling too tightly to the comforts of life here. I can’t imagine going to a country in the midst of such danger. Thank you for sharing this journal. I am thankful for the challenge to live every moment for the one who died for me. You are blessed to have a mom with such strong convictions and courage. . .

    Aunt Wilma

  5. Wow. That had me choked up. What an incredibly special thing to be able to read from your mom (not presumptuous at all, completely wonderful!), and what great words of wisdom to remember as you are making your way through your own Mommy life now, thinking the same thoughts for your own children. Thanks for sharing.

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