Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.~Proverbs 22:6
I have wanted to be a missionary since I was in college. When I interviewed for medical school, I told them that I felt being a doctor opened the most doors for me to reach this goal; that was why I wanted to become a physician. However, if I did not get accepted into medical school, I would study something else and still be a missionary. With God’s grace, I was accepted to Loma Linda University and made it through medical school and residency. While in school I married someone who shared my passion for missions.
My main concern about being a doctor and a missionary is what it would do to my children. I had heard stories of doctors’ kids (DKs) and missionary kids (MKs) living troubled lives and leaving their walk with God. My kids would be both DKs and MKs. I finally decided that if God wanted me to be a missionary and I put Him first in my life, family second, and job third, it would somehow work out according to God’s will.
Being missionary kids did have an effect on my two boys, but in a different way from what I was expecting. My wife was homeschooling our younger son, Ian, while I was working at Gimbie Adventist Hospital, Ethiopia. Ian was studying about farms using an American textbook and had to answer a quiz question: “Name two uses for cows.” My son’s very practical responses were: Cows are used for plowing and for eating the grass it is cut. In Gimbie the farmers use their cattle to plow their fields and our gardener fed his cow with grass he cut from our yard. I realized then, how growing up as a DK/MK may not be such a bad thing! My sons were learning how much of the rest of the world lives.
What finally convinced me that my children were going to survive being DKs/MKs was when I came home from the hospital one day concerned about a patient, as every doctor has at one time or another. My boys noticed I was distracted and asked me what was wrong. I told them I was worried about a patient in the ICU who might not survive. My older son, Christopher, exclaimed, “Well, why don’t we pray for him. Jesus will help him get better.” You know, we did pray for that patient and he did get better!
“Out of the mouths of babes…” took on a new meaning to me and the promise of “Train up a child in the way he should go…” can be completed by the statement”… and when he is old he will strengthen his parents’ faith.” Never be afraid to step out in faith, trust in God’s plan, and experience His blessings!