May 14, 2015
By Matt Morrison
When I was growing up, I never really wondered if my parents would get divorced. To me, it was a question of when. With every fight, I constantly asked myself, “Will this be the last straw?”
The night my dad first saw my mom, he went home and told my grandparents that he had met his wife. He waited patiently until she was single and quickly asked her out. While she had already graduated college, he still had two years left at Baylor. But after helping out at “Welcome Week” for new freshmen that fall, my dad promptly dropped out and came home to be with her. Just a few months later, they eloped. Within two years, they’d have my brother and me.
Life was changing quickly for them. Finances were tight. My dad was eventually working the night shift at a grocery store while my mom worked during the day. The exhaustion and pressures were nearly enough to break them apart. Something had to change.. and soon.
A TURNING POINT
When I got into elementary school, my dad recognized that it was time to spiritually lead our family. He began digging into God’s Word, challenging the rest of us to do the same. We became more involved in the church too. But while my parents were making great strides, the tension remained.
That’s when my dad noticed an announcement in our church bulletin about an upcoming mission trip to Romania. Though he had never considered going on a mission trip or even heard of Global Mission Fellowship (now e3 Partners), he decided to check out the interest meeting and instantly felt called to sign up. Within a few months, God had provided all of the money for him to go.
I’ll never forget saying goodbye as he boarded the plane that summer. Though he would only be gone for a week, none of us were in love with the idea that he would spend it in a former communist country. To make things even more complicated, we were moving into our new house that week too. Little did we know, his time in Romania would change the entire dynamic of our family.
A SPIRITUAL CONTAGION
When my dad came home, he was in a state of shock. After witnessing the poverty Romania was still overcoming, the adjustment back to suburban Dallas resulted in a sort of cultural whiplash. He kept returning, coming back the same way each time. My mom had a hard time understanding until she went with him in 1999. I did the same the following year.
When you spend a week pouring into Christians in another part of the world, sharing the Gospel, and establishing new churches, it shatters your world. It rearranges your priorities. You don’t ever come back the same person you were when you left. When you do it with your spouse, it does the same thing to your marriage. And when you do it with your kids, it resets the entire trajectory of their lives.
When the believers in Romania became an everyday thought for us, things that once seemed like life or death suddenly didn’t matter anymore. My parents stopped fighting about money. Instead, they searched out new ways to give it away. The savings once used for family vacations became funds for other ministry opportunities together. Our experiences in Romania profoundly reoriented our focus on the things of Christ. I watched my parents nearly lose the house because they wouldn’t stop supporting Gospel efforts overseas when the finances became tight. Our family was never the same again.
After 14 years, I returned to the country that once captured our family’s heart in September 2014. When the plane landed in Bucharest, I felt as if I had stepped on holy ground. Despite working 10 hours away from where our family had served a decade earlier, the entire trip was marked by young adults introducing themselves and sharing what an impact my parents had made on their lives. Some of my translators from my first trip are still serving with the teams e3 brings every year.
Today, my parents have been married for 29 years and are as happy as ever. What began as a church bulletin announcement has become a family legacy. I regularly tell my three-year-old son about what is happening in Romania with the hope he’ll join me someday. God used my dad’s obedience to save their marriage and leave an indelible mark on our family tree. Today, the tradition continues in our home as well.
Bring your family along on specially designed expeditions that engaged unreached people groups all over the world. Click here to learn more about e3 Legacy.