Where do I start to answer this question? There are the obvious benefits like learning another culture and language. We also saw other benefits that we didn’t expect. For instance, Ian has developed an understanding and heart to share Jesus with people. On the mission field, he knows that most people around us don’t know about Jesus, and he has more than once started a gospel conversation with someone that we were inclined to continue and finish. Our children also experience the truth that this world is not their home. A typical conversation in Wal-mart these days goes like this: “Dad, can I get one of these jeeps that kids can drive around the yard?” “No, I’m sorry. It wouldn’t fit in our suitcase to go back to Japan in a few months. You can’t take it with you.” "Well, can we buy a bigger suitcase while we're here?"
Of course, our hearts break when we see our kids grieve as they say goodbye to family, friends, and toys at each parting on both sides of the Pacific. I’ve often thought, “What am I doing to my family? I’m putting them through too much!” At those times, I’m reminded that our heavenly Father has ordained each “goodbye” and “hello” in their lives. He is using the experiences, joy, sadness, and challenges of our way of life to mold the kids (and us) into who He is designing them to be. We see that both Ian and Liana have become very adaptable as we travel from church to church and country to country. A constant range of new situations seems to have influenced them to make friends easily, relate to people of all ages, brave new foods, and broaden their understanding of people different from themselves.
If you’re thinking, “I’ll go to the mission field (or do so and so-whatever God may be leading you toward) when my kids are grown up, “ I think you should reconsider. God will use the unique challenges and opportunities in their lives for His glory and their good.