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Parents of missionaries begin praying, bonding

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–Eileen Kirby is thankful more prayer now is being lifted to God for her son and daughter-in-law.
Ben and Charlotte Kirby surely appreciate it as well, as Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Sharing with 30 other Arkansas parents at the organizational meeting of the Arkansas Missionary Parents Fellowship, Eileen Kirby said, “As we pray, we specifically need to pray for the missionaries’ protection as they face dangerous situations in travel and in other ways in the countries where they serve.” Kathleen Jones, an emeritus missionary who addressed the gathering of parents whose children and families serve on Southern Baptist international mission fields, agreed.
“Prayer is the most important thing you can do for those on the field,” said Jones, retired from 35 years of medical missions work in Indonesia, at the mid-September meeting at South Highland Baptist Church, Little Rock.
“Your prayers will be used day-by-day by God to strengthen the missionaries and provide service opportunities as they need them.”
Kaye Miller, who grew up on the mission field in Thailand where her parents were medical missionaries for 25 years, gave insights about missionary children and grandchildren on the mission field and upon their return to the United States.
“I vividly remember my parents talking with us of their call to missions and our call to go there with them,” she said. “I did not know as I went at age 5 with the family that I would personally become involved to the extent of assisting in the training process of nurses, my father in surgical procedures and even in the delivery of children.
“It continued to impact my life as both a young person and as an adult, in that I returned to the States, enrolled in Baylor University and in Baylor’s school of nursing to prepare for the nursing field where I have worked since.”
Miller told the group that as their children and grandchildren return to the States on furlough or to enter school, they need guidance in such basic items as U.S. money, how to use phone cards, driving, how to dress and making new friends.
“I encourage you to give them the opportunity to share with you those things which have happened to them on the mission field,” she added.
She reminded participants of a 1999 International Mission Board re-entry retreat to be held in Arkansas for all incoming college freshmen. “Missionary kids are ones who know world missions,” Miller continued. “As one of them, it created within me the urgency of sharing Jesus Christ with others.” Miller currently serves as both Girls in Action and Youth on Mission director at Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock.
Barham and Marie Ridgell of Alexander, Ark., whose daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Ted Stanton, serve in Venezuela, said, “Even though at our ages of 80 and 78 respectively we have experienced our grandchildren returning for their education and then entering the work force, we are thankful this organization is being formed. It will be very beneficial to those who still have not traveled these roads.”
Bruce Swihart of Sherwood, whose son, Tim, serves with his family in Pusan, Korea, said, “Today has been most beneficial to me because I have learned the importance of my assisting my grandchildren in their transition from the mission field to becoming college students.”
In a prayer-and-share time, Sarah Haggard of Conway whose son, John, serves in Romania, voiced thankfulness for having a child serving on the mission field.
“I’d rather have a child overseas in God’s will than have one next door out of God’s will,” she said.
Harold Farmer of Crossett, whose son, Lloyd, and family serve in Malawi, Africa, noted the parents’ fellowship “is going to be great because we will be able to give each other support and have fellowship with people with similar situations.”
“I have learned a great deal today,” affirmed Clara Reed of Siloam Springs whose daughter, Cheryl Headrick, serves with her family in Arusha, Tanzania. “We have been able to share things that we cannot share with just everyone.”
Monica Keathley, adult consultant for the Arkansas Woman’s Missionary Union office, will assist the new organization. “There was an automatic bonding between people who had never met each other, and a real sense of mutual appreciation and support,” Keathley said. “The Lord’s timing is perfect, and it seemed obvious to me that it was his time for this group of missionary parents to come together.”

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  • Millie Gill