The Cushmans: Family as a Mission

December 1, 2016

Missions has been a part of Rob and Alena Cushman’s lives for well over a decade. They’ve each taken short-term international mission trips, assisted with local missions programs in their church, hosted exchange students and sponsored a child through Compassion International. Still, as they prayed, the peace of knowing they were doing enough eluded them.

The Cushmans moved to Tunica, Mississippi in the early 2000s. Rob took a position in the Tunica school district with the Mississippi Teacher Corp and Alena worked for a local gym. Rob would later work in the Desoto County School District, first as a teacher and then as an assistant principal.

Alena heard of Palmer Home for Children when some of the caregivers from the Hernando campus brought their children to swim at the Tunica gym where she was employed. After a discussion with one of the caregivers, Alena suggested to Rob that they look into the organization. The conversation ended, for the time being, with that one passing comment.

As life continued, both Rob and Alena felt God pulling their family to do more. God began to work in Rob, placing a call to serve as a caregiver on his heart. As he looked at available positions in the field, their pastor told Alena that Palmer Home for Children was hiring.

“My Tuesday night Bible study group began reading Priscilla Shirer’s book Discerning the Voice of God,” said Alena. “We were about in the middle of the study when God began to place this call on our lives.”

A door began to open for the Cushmans to move their family to Columbus this past summer. Palmer Home interviewed Alena and Rob by phone before requesting an on-site interview and campus tour in April 2016.

“Between the interviews, on March 29th to be exact, I heard the unmistakable, audible voice of God say, ‘Alena, part of your mission in this life is to be a mother’,” said Alena.

At first she thought God was referring to another more immediate situation, but as she prayed and studied her Bible, she realized God had a much broader definition of “mother” than she did.

In June 2016, the Cushman’s packed up their home and two children and moved across the state to a cottage on the Columbus campus of Palmer Home for Children where seven children waited for them. Alena reports their two biological children have made new friends, are settling into life on campus, and are staying busy with all of the activities available.

“I think I finally found my ‘something’ that God was calling me to do,” said Alena. “I’ll admit it hasn’t been totally easy. I know God is with us, and His plans for us are to lead and love these children placed in our care.”

For those wondering what life is like for Palmer Home caregivers, Alena answers a few questions she’s often asked.

  • We have 7 other children in our cottage; we can have up to 8, not counting our own 2.
  • The children may range from ages 0-21 (in college).
  • Yes, we have to cook for that many.
  • Yes, we have to clean, do laundry, and do chores (each child will have a chore or 2 they have to do daily).
  • It is definitely a calling from God.
  • No, I am not prepared to hear the heartbreaking stories some of these children will have, but I am praying that God will guide and support me (and all of us) as we work to change those stories

If God is calling your family to “Do Something”, Palmer Home for Children has additional openings for residential caregivers, sponsor families, Jonah’s Journey caregivers, and respite caregivers. The opportunities for service and missions are endless.  As we so often say at Palmer Home, “They need our help. We need yours.”

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