[dropcap]H[/dropcap]alf a century ago a three-year-old boy said goodbye to his grandparents, relatives, and friends and boarded a ship with his three brothers for a two and a half week journey across the ocean, entering for the first time a land where no one understood a thing he said. His dad, thirty (fresh out of college—post military service in Japan), had been burdened by God to come back to Japan to serve. With two sisters soon added to the family, the six children grew up homeschooling under the guidance of their teacher mother (in a day when “homeschooling” wasn’t even a word and when most missionaries sent their kids to boarding school for their education…with infrequently positive results for the family or the spiritual maturity of the child).
Growing up on the mission field with his brothers and sisters, the boy soon learned to recognize two distinct patterns in parenting among fellow missionaries. (1) Apologetic parents who felt God was calling them to the field but felt sorry for the sacrifices their children were asked to make, and who endeavored to protect their children from the demands of the ministry. (2) Involved parents who felt much more could be accomplished if everyone worked together, and who invited their children to have an active role in serving along with their parents in the ministry.
This child was thankfully among the second category. He was brought up with regular family devotions and prayer, an understanding of the privilege of ministry, and with the joy of serving with his parents and siblings in such activities as literature preparation and distribution, making signs, setting up tents, moving chairs, running projectors for evangelistic services, announcing services on loudspeakers attached to the family van, helping to host special services in rented community meeting places, and even teaching Sunday school, leading singing, assisting in church camps, translating, preaching, and leading the youth ministry. By the time the boy went off to college at 17 years of age he had already acknowledged and joyfully submitted to the call of God to return to Japan as a missionary (after a brief break for training, marriage, and visiting churches).