After my first national FOCUS conference, I knew in my heart of hearts that God was calling me to be a missionary.
I definitely dragged my feet as graduation approached, but I knew Jesus was asking me to live in a radical way for His greater glory. After interview weekend, I was hooked. I was ready to move anywhere, to live the dating fast, to fundraise my salary, to live radically!
Unfortunately, my parents were not quite as thrilled.
Looking back now, three years (hopefully) wiser, I realize it was a lot to ask of my parents. Their oldest and only daughter, fresh out of college, was joining this non-profit full of missionaries and would be approaching all their friends and family for financial support. Yikes.
I’ve always been a “go-with-the-flow-who-needs-to-make-plans” kind of individual, so my parents were definitely not surprised when I took the non-profit, road-less-traveled career. And maybe I didn’t present the missionary lifestyle in the best way when I approached the subject with them. My dad, like a good father, wanted to know what kind of benefits I was eligible for. Did FOCUS have health insurance options? Did they offer a savings plan? Did they offer a retirement plan? My mom wanted to know what the training would look like. Would I be studying Scripture? Would I be learning other leadership skills like time management, conflict resolution, budgeting, and the like?
Obviously these questions were not on my radar as a “young, wild and free” youth. But because I wanted my parents to be supportive of this career move, I searched for the answer and came back with great news: The answer was “yes” to literally all of their questions. My parents gave me their blessing, which was and has continued to be such a gift for me.
And then Jesus took all of us on a wild ride.
I never thought, “I’ll share this Bible study experience with my Mom so that she will go and make disciples of all nations.” I simply shared my experience, my life with her. We would talk about prayer, our struggles with discerning the Lord’s will, our fears and inadequacies, and the times when we felt inspired and equipped. Her successes and struggles in her parish inspired me to ensure that what we do on campus is translatable to parish life. I basically started living in discipleship with my mom.
Since then, my parents have now become incredibly active in their parish. My mom has participated in ENDOW studies and is now leading a book study for over 20 women. She is in a discipleship relationship and has a mentee of her own. My dad was involved with “That Man Is You” group (which met at 5 a.m.!), is a regular lector at Mass and participates in making financial asks for the parish’s building project.
But most importantly, my parents pray together and have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
When I joined staff, I never considered the possibility that my job would affect my parents, my siblings, or my extended families’ lives. And I never imagined that how my parents live out the Great Commission could inspire me so deeply. Today, my family and I feel like we are on this journey together.
I am so incredibly grateful to be able to witness the Spirit moving and shaking within my parents and their parish. I give all thanks to God that He gave me the courage to share my journey with FOCUS with my parents. Don’t place limits on what a “successful” mission looks like. All the sacrifices I made and the things I “gave up” to be in FOCUS, God has already paid back a million times over.
“The Lord Jesus takes nothing away and gives you everything.” — Pope Benedict XVI
To apply to become a FOCUS missionary, click here!