Dear Christian Parents of Overseas Workers-
First off, this isn't a passive-aggressive right hook to my own parents. They have truly become a loyal and faithful support system to our family. But there's a thing happening. It happens every year starting the second week of November and not letting up until January. Christian parents are saying things like, "We wish you were here eating turkey with the family." Or, "I can't believe we will be celebrating Christmas this year without the grandkids." Or, "I can't wait until you're home next year so we can all celebrate as a family."
These seem like benign phrases that merely express a longing to be together as a family. The problem is that your child who is overseas feels the loss even deeper than you'd think. They see messages like these and wrap their holidays in guilt, homesickness, longing, loneliness, isolation, and want. For many of us, we don't have a community to even eat a bowl of rice with, no way a Thanksgiving spread is gonna happen. We teach English classes on Christmas and worship to a youtube video. And the thing is that these can be godly, holy moments if we allow them to be. But when we have family and friends talking about us returning "home," all the time (especially during the holidays), it becomes infinitely more difficult to be present here.
Christmas is the time we need you to remind us of why we are here. This season is busy, exhausting, and requires every bit of Holy Spirit to choke back another decorated sugar cookie. But when we are present, we get to open our lives up to the community and share the most radical birthing story in the history of the world. When our head is in the game, this glorious season becomes a launching pad to engaging our community in a more meaningful way. As a Christian parent, please remind you kids that their time and energy is worth it. Sure, tell them you miss them. But end that sentence with a, "But God needs you there to be Jesus to your people. That is the most wonderful gift I could get this Christmas." Don't wish them home. Trust me, there are many days their heart is already on that plane. Your kids know it's not easy on you either.
They need believing parents in their corner of the ring praying, wiping up their bloodied noses, and telling them to get back out there.