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Missionaries heed God's call
amid parents' post-9/11 fears

By Erich Bridges

IN THE MIDDLE EAST (BP)--Honor your father and mother, the Bible commands, and heed their counsel. So what do you do when your earthly father adamantly opposes something your heavenly Father wants you to do?

"Brian" is far from the first missionary to wrestle with that dilemma. He and his wife left for the turbulent Middle East last year, with his father's beloved grandchildren in tow. It didn't go over very well with Dad -- especially after 9/11. "He's not a believer, so he doesn't understand my passion" for the lost, Brian says. "He has a fatherly concern for us. He also has a military background, so he knows tense situations and how volatile they can become. He doesn't understand how I could go into such a situation, or take my children into it."

Brian's mother is a Christian, but she wasn't too thrilled either. Why, she asked, would he give up a fruitful, longtime ministry at home to go to a faraway place where he couldn't even speak the language?

Now, Brian plans to move the family from the relatively stable country where they've been living to another, far more violent part of the Arab world where people are beginning to respond to the gospel. When his father heard about it, he called the Southern Baptist International Mission Board to express his objections. It isn't just concern about physical safety that divides Brian and his father; it's a fundamental difference in worldview: "Dad says, 'There are many paths to the sea. Let Allah save them. Who are you to tell them you know the only way to God or salvation?'" Brian explains. "We've had more religious discussions since I got out here than we ever did at home. We've agreed to disagree."

It's understandable that Brian's non-Christian father holds such views. But what about parents in the church who watch their adult children -- and grandchildren -- going into a dark, dangerous world to obey God's call? Nobody said it's easy, especially in a post-9/11 world. But God is still calling.

"I don't want my children to grow up afraid of the world," Brian says. "They are as much a part of our ministry as we are, and we want it to be that way."




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