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The High Cost of Making Disciples


The cause is much bigger than the pain of being separated from their family.


the high cost of making disciples

by Martha Anderson


It is not often that you know you have experienced a historic event.

Today, I witnessed a truly momentous occasion. Will you read about it in USA Today or see it on CNN? Hardly. The world took no note of what happened. But I did, and all Free Will Baptists should.

Today, I witnessed the departure of Josh, Alicia, and Ruby Crowe, career missionaries to Japan. Why was I there, you might wonder? My daughter Caroline left with them, flying to Sapporo to begin eight weeks of missionary internship.

The scene was typical. We arrived three hours early at Raleigh-Durham airport for the overseas flight. After checking eight large suitcases, all that remained was the walk through security.
Saying goodbye in an airport is almost anti-climatic in this post 9/11 world. You can no longer pass through security to sit with your loved ones right up to the moment of departure. You never even see the plane in which they will depart. Instead, you find yourself standing in the middle of the large terminal, straining to catch one last glimpse as they pass through metal detectors and baggage scanners. Your last snapshot view is the wave of an arm or the top of their heads as they move toward their gate.

On this particular morning (3:00 a.m., May 25th, Memorial Day 2009), Josh, Alicia, six-month-old Ruby, Alicia’s parents—Al and Carol Hart—and our family found ourselves in the terminal awaiting the time for departure. We sat in a secluded corner of Terminal Two, sleepy-eyed and groggy. The conversation centered on Ruby, who enjoyed being held by her grandmother and playing with a new toy. During a quiet lull in the conversation, Josh said succinctly yet profoundly, “Today is the culmination of 10 years’ effort. I have been working for 10 years to get to this day.”

We sat in silence for a moment as we absorbed the immensity of his statement. Ten years—what a long time! College, graduate school, marriage, fatherhood, raising support—I guess it would take ten years. But you know, on the way home from the airport, I mulled over his statement again, and it hit me. Ten years is a blink of an eye to God. His timing is perfect, and if it took 10 years to prepare for the mission field, then so be it.

After Alicia finished feeding Ruby, as if on cue, Josh stood up and said it was time to go through security. One could sense he had choreographed this long goodbye in a way that would be the least painful for all. He was calm, collected, and confident, checking one last time to be sure all visas, passports, and boarding passes were ready. After forming a small circle, we prayed. Alicia’s father prayed for the travelers; then Josh prayed for those staying behind. After the final amen, we walked slowly toward security.

Obviously, we had said our intimate goodbyes long before the security checkpoint, but the final goodbye is the most stressful—a grandfather’s last kiss, taking in the sweet smell of a beautiful baby girl, the final family group shot picture, lingering hugs, thank-yous and goodbyes, the tears that threaten to overflow, and the final “I love you.”

The image that will stay with me forever, however, was not this final embrace. A moment far more profound has played over in my head a thousand times since. The scene: Alicia, with her sweet baby asleep in her arms, walks slowly toward security, and then about 30 feet away, turns back one last time to look into the faces of her mom and dad—immense pain, overflowing love, and strong determination to do God’s will in Japan combined in one poignant expression. Oh, how it hurt to see such a maelstrom of emotions but how glorious. What a testimony to the grace of God!

Over the years, I have been privileged to meet many international missionaries. Some have been on the field for 50 years or more. Until that moment, I never truly understood the emotional sacrifice of leaving family, friends, home churches, and familiar cultures to take the hope of the gospel to a foreign country. This heartbreaking goodbye was just one of thousands, a thought seared into my awareness today.

You may be thinking, “Well, what about your daughter? Did you not watch her last goodbye?”

Oh, yes, I did. My heart hurt to think she would be gone for eight weeks, flying around the globe to Japan. Yes, I was teary-eyed, and my heart was breaking. But how could I even begin to compare my heartache with that of the family who watched their daughter, granddaughter, and son-in-law leave for a four-year term in Japan? No comparison.

Josh and Alicia are uniquely equipped to do the work in Japan—graduate degrees, previous internships, E-TEAM leaders, and Alicia’s stint as an English teacher in Japan. They are young, attractive, and connect well with all age groups. They serve as approachable role models for the thousands of children, pre-teens, and teenagers who know them affectionately as “Mr. Josh and Miss Alicia.” How many young people will accept the call to full-time Christian service because of the influence of this young couple? My own daughter has certainly profited from their example. Only eternity knows.

You may wonder, “What is so historic about these events? People leave their family and fly to foreign countries every day. What’s the big deal?”

History makers are willing to sacrifice everything for a cause bigger than them. Josh, Alicia, and Ruby are history makers because God is using them to reach souls for His Kingdom who otherwise would not be reached. The cause is much bigger than them or the pain of being separated from their family. It holds eternal significance. One day, when I get to Heaven, I look forward to meeting countless men and women because Josh, Alicia, and a host of other missionaries left all to serve God, to go and make disciples.


In Josh’s words…

I sit here at Debbie Griffin's table on our first morning in Japan, and I weep as I read this article. Maybe it's the emotional roller coaster or lack of sleep, but I think it's the Holy Spirit using your words to softly, gently remind of us why we are here.

About the Writer: Martha Anderson teaches English at Ruth’s Chapel Christian School in New Bern, NC. A member of Sherwood Forest FWB Church, Martha is the church pianist and teaches Sunday School. Learn more about Free Will Baptist International Missions at


©2010 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists