“Madison, maybe you could study abroad or go on a mission trip to a Spanish speaking country sometime to help you become more fluent in Spanish,” I suggested as we moved Madison into her dorm at Palm Beach Atlantic University 18 months ago. She was a Spanish minor at the time.
“I don’t do mission trips, mom. I’m not a mission trip kind of girl.” She replied emphatically.
If you have young adult children, you know you can’t tell them what to do and making suggestions is risky business. I hadn’t expected Madison to readily embrace the idea, but I hadn’t envisioned her response either. I was fine with it. She takes after her momma with her will of steel.
Six weeks later we vacationed in Palm Beach so we could be near her.
During dinner one night she shared, “I think I’m going on a mission trip to Bolivia over Spring Break.”
Inside, I smiled big. Like really big. I wondered if she remembered the declaration she’d made to me six weeks earlier. I wasn’t about to bring it up at the time. She told us some detail about the trip, the orphans she’d be loving on, the sidewalk Sunday School outreaches they’d be doing in the community. And I was delighted.
I asked her how it had all come about. She said that PBA offered a week-long event introducing their mission opportunities for Spring Break. She had no interest in participating. Didn’t attend any sessions. The following week her friends were talking about places they were hoping to go. When one of them talked about Bolivia, something in her moved. Gave birth to desire. She knew that she wanted to go to Bolivia.
When Madison returned home for Thanksgiving break, excitedly anticipating the Bolivia trip, I asked her if she’d remembered the pronouncement she’d made when we dropped her off in August. She was a blank slate. No memory of that conversation. Sometimes fear is like that. I smiled. She smiled.
She needed $1500 and believed God would provide for her so she could join the Bolivia team. Provide He did. Abundantly. Watching God build your child’s faith in His provision and care is one of the most deeply stirring moments of my parenting journey. Faith flowing out of her which I've battled fiercely for 24 years to access in myself.
Off she went to the mountainous beauty of Bolivia. She played, she held little ones, she shared The love of Jesus to kids through a play on the sidewalk, she grew ill, and she connected. She returned to Palm Beach changed through soccer and games. She told me that she might want to be a missionary in Bolivia. She couldn’t wait to return. So much love spilled forth for the boys in this orphanage of love. The Father captured her heart for many of the boys. But one in particular tugged continuously. Simón was 14 years old.
Over the next months, Madison talked about how she wanted to sponsor Simón. It would cost her $75/month. I explored how the funds would be used with her for this was one of the highest sponsorships I’d encountered. After some conversation I found it to be legit. More than anything, I was awed by the generosity bubbling up in my nineteen year-old daughter. Stunned.
Even though her salary was only $400/month while at school, Madison’s intention to sponsor Simón strengthened with each day. She began to save and by the end of last July, she asked me whether or not I thought she should take the leap and commit.
A small part of me thought to say, "$75 is a big chunk of your salary...are you sure you can handle that?" After all, you're saving for a car, for books, for....
Thankfully, the part of me hungry to know the God of the universe spoke louder, "if God is leading you to begin, then listen and leap."
Welcome to my internal world. These are the conversations warring inside my soul all day, every day. My 19 year-old daughter was leaping into financial generosity in a way I've never leapt. Believing God will continue to provide so she can keep giving away. Grace touching the next generation, releasing something so good. Challenging me to hold looser.
So with a little money in her bank account....she leapt.
We had taught her about God’s heart for us to hold loosely to things of this world so we could cling tightly to Him. How tithing is one way we love God and keep a loosened grip on His provision. But we’d taught her to give 10%. Not 20% or more. Not that she couldn’t give more. We just taught her about the bare minimum. Even when we teach our kids principles of loving well, there’s no guarantee they will choose that path.
How many college students, or people for that matter, choose to give at all? And then choose to give more? According to Relevant Magazine, only five percent of the US tithes. 80% of Americans are only given at 2.5 percent per capita.
My point isn’t to condemn, because I know well the battle to hold loosely to God’s provision. My point is that my daughter is blowing my mind. And that’s not an exaggeration. God’s deposited within her a compassion and love for orphans which has moved her to action. Love always does. Madison would never want me to pedestalize her. In fact, she hates the spotlight. But I couldn’t keep silent about the way our God is moving her to sacrifice on behalf of one who is father and motherless. How beautiful is a heart which reflects His. How beautiful it is when a mother is challenged by her steel-will daughter's generosity.