Nov 2023 OTJ shutterstock 2363472469
On the Journey

20 Things Missionaries Wish Their Parents Knew, Part 1

More than two decades ago when my husband and I adopted our daughter, I picked up a book called Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew. Using the voice of adopted children, the author shares things like “Birthdays may be difficult for me.”

Using that same framework, I asked missionaries what they wish their parents knew. I hope their honest feedback will help you gain new perspectives and understand how to pray more effectively for missionaries and their parents.

Things Missionaries Wish Their Parents Knew

20. Our call to missions is not a phase or a trip. We believe we are called to live our lives among our people group.

19. We understand not having your children and grandchildren around is hard, especially when your friends likely see their grandchildren often. We truly are sorry for that. We wish our children could spend more time with you.

18. Try to remember that we consider our country to be “home.” Asking when we’re coming home or referring to America as our home can be confusing for our children.

17. Try to understand why we do what we do. When missionaries sense their parents are not behind them or when their parents are encouraging them to return to the US, it is extremely detrimental to their service.

16. It takes four times longer to do things in my country.

15. Recognize how hard it is to work, study language, and take care of children.

14. You always want the very best for us. We think there is no higher purpose than to follow God’s call to the nations. Be proud, just as you are of my military brother.

13. Ask what we want to eat. Our tastes have changed a lot since we lived in your house more than 20 years ago.

12. Recognize that coming back to American church culture is difficult for us. American culture is a consumer culture, and, unfortunately, that is true of many American churches too. We are used to working with poverty, hardship, and the persecuted church.

11. Be willing to listen. You would be amazed at how few people we have back in the US who show a real interest in our lives and work.

We will finish the list next month.


Thank You for the transparency of these missionaries. Bless missionaries’ parents, who make countless sacrifices as well so the gospel may be proclaimed to the nations.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin serves as executive director-treasurer of WMU, SBC.