An open letter to my parents:
I have thought a lot lately about how blessed I am to be raised in your home by you two. I know this letter will come as a surprise to you since I have often complained about the way I was raised. But recently, God has shown me how blessed I truly have been, so I want to publicly thank you for being part of that blessing.
You two have made a lot of “mistakes” in parenting. (As I now know we all do!) But, even in those mistakes, I have been blessed. As children, we all were allowed to fight with each other way too much. I am not sure why, perhaps because you had 8 children and you were too tired to break up fights, but we fought a lot. But now I see how that made me strong. I have thick skin that I might not have otherwise. Thick skin that I couldn’t walk into brothels and prisons without. People hurl insults at me all the time and they don’t phase me most of the time because I have been insulted by siblings who are much more talented in the art of insults than them. I also learned to stand my ground and defend myself. I now use that skill to defend ladies and children who cannot defend themselves. Fighting with my siblings also fueled me to be a fighter. I now fight daily for justice for women who have been robbed of justice.
You had too many kids! Or so everyone told us. But, I am blessed by each and every one of my brothers and sisters. I would not be the person I am without them and I thank God for each of them. One of the greatest gifts you gave us kids, is each other. And now as I raise my kids, I know one of the greatest gifts I am giving them is each other.
You two also raised us all in chaos. I have often regretted the chaos we were raised in, but now I am grateful for it. I live in a country that is pure chaos. I drive in chaos and I run a ministry that seems to thrive on chaos. Had I not been raised with chaos, I would not be able to handle all that I have to juggle on a daily basis.
You guys also raised us without much money. We struggled financially and that is putting it mildly. But in the midst of our poverty, you also taught us that poverty does not have to define you and poverty is nobody’s culture, but instead a hole to dig out of. You also taught us that even though we were poor, nobody and no government owed us anything. And you taught us to thank God for everything, even our lack of things. I could write a book about how much this knowledge has blessed me as a missionary in Nigeria.
Besides the “mistakes” that you made. You guys did some really great things that I am not sure I have ever clearly expressed my gratitude to you for. Dad, you taught us kids how to love the Lord with a passion that is contagious. Sometimes when I am in filthy brothel sharing the gospel with a woman, I get so overwhelmed with how Great God and his message of Salvation is, that I feel like I am going to burst. I am so filled with joy in the Lord that my voice quivers. It is then that I know, I am your daughter. I am reminded of watching you preach and watching your passion for Christ spill out of you. I am proud of your passion and grateful to have picked up a piece of it.
Mom, no one loves children more than you. I have never seen you in the same room with a baby without you taking that baby to hold and I have never seen a woman with such a gift for quieting crying babies. You love people and you give of yourself sacrificially all the time. I will never compare to you, but I know that I would not have the heart to love on all of these kids at Grace Gardens had you not taught that to me. I am a mother of many, because I learned from you to be a mother to many. People think I am crazy for all the kids I take into my home, but it seems natural to me because I saw you do it my whole life.
Dad, you taught me a love for scripture and a love for reading missionary stories and Christian biographies of old evangelists. I still have scripture memorized from hearing you quote it so much. What a blessing that has been in my life. My love for missions and missionaries has come from you. I still say that the greatest privilege of being a missionary is working with other missionaries! I have met some pretty cool ones who I am sure will be written about in the next set of missionary biographies. And my study of old missionaries and old evangelists has inspired me step out in faith time and time again.
Mom, you taught me a lot of things that I did not listen to very well. Let’s face it, I am more like dad than you. But, I’ve picked up a few things from you I am proud of. I love hospitality, and I know I learned that from you. I am happy serving others and I do not need to be up front getting the glory. I know I learned that from you. You have always had a servants heart and a humble spirit which I hope to emulate more.
Most days, I don’t feel like going out for outreach and I don’t feel like taking in more women or children because I am already overwhelmed with my work. You two taught me that the right thing is not always easy, but it is still the right thing. So everyday, I get up and try my best to do the right things and ignore my feelings. And every night, I am amazed by the way God sustains me and even blesses me for trusting and obeying. I learned that from you. Living my life, serving my God, is honestly a privilege I would not have had had I not learned from you how to do the right thing even when I didn’t want to.
Mom and Dad, I grew up knowing I was loved and wanted. I also knew whose I was. You always reminded me that I was a child of the Most high God and I should conduct myself as such. I learned faith by watching the two of you trust God, even when we didn’t know where our next meal would come from. I learned generosity as I watched you two always giving to others, even when we didn’t have much.
Probably the best thing you guys did for me, was allow me to be who God made me to be. Even though my stubborn nature drove you guys crazy, you taught me that I was stubborn so that I could stand for the things of God. You taught me that my temper was really passion that hadn’t been controlled yet. And you taught me that my strong will, would make me a good leader. (I think dad also told me it was going to keep me from getting married if I wasn’t careful!, but I guess he was wrong about that!)
I love you guys, and my greatest desire right now is for you two to make it here to Nigeria to see my life here. The life that is what it is because of you two and your love for God and your love for me!