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FIRST PERSON: Cultivating my son’s heart for adventurous missions

6/15/2012

By Mike Young

RICHMOND, Va.—On Father’s Day, three of our four children will be nearby. Our oldest son, however, will be in South Asia — halfway around the world.

That’s not altogether unusual, but Tim is only 16. He’ll be on a seven-week mission trip with two other 16-year-old young men and a 21-year-old advocate, who will serve as the team leader. This bold group of kingdom adventurers is part of Fusion Impact, a unique, hands-on mission experience for high school students. (For more information about Fusion, Fusion Impact and other IMB student missions programs, go to http://www.thetask.org/programs.)

In July 2010, Tim and I served with a mission team in South Asia on a father/son mission adventure. The time we spent together traveling, serving and sharing the Gospel produced experiences, memories and changes that continue to affect our lives. It also provided Tim with a broader context in which to own and personalize his faith in Christ.

There were funny moments: experiencing unusual foods, traveling by bus (WOW! You have to watch that video), and Tim’s mind wandering during serious group devotions … “Hey, are those coconuts?”

There were challenging moments: We had everything ready to start the generator in one village to show the JESUS film when the local imam (spiritual leader) told our group leaders, “There will be trouble in our village tomorrow if you do this. You need to leave.” The animated crowd surrounded our van as we packed up and pulled out. Some were angry at the missed opportunity; others were anxious to see us leave.

There were life-shaping moments: We shared the Gospel with many individuals in several villages where people were quite open and anxious to hear more. They were ready, but our time in South Asia was coming to an end. We talk often about the enormity of the task, but that our God is able to accomplish His will among these people.

The impact on Tim has been pretty exciting. Now he’s bolder and more confident in sharing his faith and has a unique perspective compared to many of his peers.

One of my favorite anecdotes is from his world history class. His teacher was explaining the difference between monotheism and polytheism. According to Tim, at a lull in the lecture, he raised his hand and started to compare and contrast Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The teacher finally asked, “How do you know so much about this?” His response: “I went on a mission trip with my dad. I’m a Christian, but I’ve been in a mosque. I’ve been in a Hindu temple. I’ve talked personally to imams and swamis. I’ve heard the call to prayer and seen men and young boys gather to pray to Allah. I’ve seen Hindus worship and experienced their culture.” He became the “resident missiologist” for this class and several others since then.    

I’m proud of my son and the other young men who will journey together this summer for the sake of advancing God’s kingdom. In each case, their families have invested strategically in their sons to point them toward Christ and to help them develop a heart for adventurous missions.

I expect this will be the first of many Father’s Days when their dads and I will wake up and pray for our sons on another continent in obedience to their heavenly Father.

Mike Young is the founder of Noble Warriors (noblewarriors.org), a men’s ministry organization that seeks to encourage all men to walk with Christ and lead their families. He and his family attend Parkway Baptist Church in Moseley, Va.

To view “A father’s heart,” the multi-media presentation about Mike and Tim Young’s 2010 trip to South Asia, visit commissionstories.com/stories/1493.

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