Deep in enemy territory there was a small band of elite soldiers carrying out a covert op. Although few were aware, the safety and security of the entire free world was hanging in the balance. Upon near completion of the mission the team was discovered and began to take heavy enemy fire. As they retreated to the chosen extraction point, one of their company was severely wounded and unable to keep pace. He passionately urged the team to leave him and complete the mission. At the risk of their own lives they refused to leave a fallen brother and struggled to carry him to safety. According to the soldiers’ code of honor, the only option was to complete their mission — together.
No man left behind.
Just the mention of this familiar military slogan conjures images of brotherhood, honor, unwavering commitment, and heroism. Yet, when it comes to the mission of the most important team — the family — we often find the battlefield of life riddled with the bodies of spouses and children that have been left behind – casualties of war. I have learned that during the key transitions in life it is critically important not to lose sight of any member of my team. I would hate to arrive at our extraction point only to find that those whose lives were entrusted into my care are MIA, POW, or completely AWOL.
So, as our family approaches the bend in the road mentioned in Out of Africa – Part 1, we are keeping a close eye on every member of our team. Sara and I believe the call to ministry is a call to the entire family, not just a call upon the life of an individual. This means true “success” in ministry will never come at the expense of losing our marriage or children. Because of this, there have been many times in our family’s mission when we have had to adjust our pace, change our position, stop for the one who is wounded, or carry each other’s burdens.
At this bend in the road, our hearts have turned toward our three precious children:
- Aviya, our African-born “surprise blessing,” is sixteen-months old. She is delightful, portable and easygoing.
- Our oldest daughter, Sabra, has been accepted at Trinity Bible College in North Dakota where she will begin pursuing a double major in Biblical Studies and Elementary Education this coming September.
- Our son, Samuel, is completing his freshman year of high school. Both he and Sabra have always been home-schooled This has allowed our family to remain flexible and pursue ministry in Africa, moving between more than six different locations throughout South Africa and Kenya over the past four years. However, since Christmas, Samuel has been expressing a desire to attend high school to become more involved with sports and other activities.
So what do we say to Sam?
“Sorry buddy, at more than $20,000 per year, the international schools in Kenya are just too expensive for our missionary budget.”
“Oh, don’t think too much about that… even if we are able to raise the extra money for school tuition, I’m not sure our Kenyan visas will be renewed next year. You probably wouldn’t even stay in the same high school until you graduate.”
No man left behind. If the Lord is transitioning our family, He has something for all of us.
Even though we have family and close friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we never thought that we would be moving back. Samuel found a school that he would like to attend, but in all honesty, it seemed like a complete impossibility. The enrolment for the upcoming school year had been closed since February and there was a waiting list for West Michigan Aviation Academy. Our final “fleece” before the Lord in regards to the timing and location of a potential international move was if and when Samuel would be accepted into the school. Miraculously, in one ten minute phone call on April 8th, Samuel was guaranteed enrolment as a 10th grader for the 2013-2014 school year. We could not have asked for a more clear confirmation. The Lord was opening doors — no man left behind.
Now is the time for our family to move back to Grand Rapids.
“There are three things to remember about being a starship captain: keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship, and never abandon a member of your crew.”
May you have the courage to boldly go where no family has gone before.
In passionate pursuit,