My husband and I have been involved in career missions for nearly 20 years. We spent three years in Nepal, 11 years at Camp Homewood off Vancouver Island, and we’ve worked with International Messengers with a focus on Eastern Europe for the past 4½ years.
The past two decades have been a white-knuckle ride in many ways, but a journey I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve met some incredible people and learned more than a few rich life lessons from them along the way. One of those lessons—the truth about missionaries:
- They’re strong-willed. God hard-wired them so. Without a strong will, they’d either kiss the field goodbye when the going gets rough or they’d never consider missions in the first place.
- They’re brave. I know several individuals/couples working in closed countries. Their visas could be revoked and they’d be uprooted at any time, yet they’re willing to live in uncertainty and potential danger. And speaking of danger, how about driving conditions in other countries where rules of the road don’t mean much? I remember bus rides in the Himalayan mountain where we rumbled across landslides, screeched around hairpin curves, and chugged to altitudes on roads that guaranteed certain death if the driver made a mistake or the brakes failed.
- They’re intelligent. It takes smarts to learn other languages and to connect with people from other cultures and backgrounds.
- They’re flexible. They adapt to life without familiar conveniences. They adjust to different perspectives about the concept of time. They function in cultures where promises don’t stick.
- They’re humble. They know they can’t fulfill their calling in their own strength. They’re okay with admitting their dependency on God for wisdom, safety, health, and finances.
- They’re overworked. Ever wonder why you don’t hear from your missionaries more often? It’s because they’re struggling to balance family life with ministry demands with the time it takes to perform simple, routine tasks to survive. They’d love to holiday for a break, but finances are usually too tight. And so they plug on albeit weary in head and heart.
- They’re imperfect. Missionaries make mistakes. They sometimes say things they regret. They sometimes struggle in their marriages. They sometimes struggle to maintain spiritual freshness. And they often struggle in their relationships with coworkers. (That’s where the strong-willed characteristic isn’t a plus).
- They’re rare. “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’” (Matt. 9:36-38)
Pray for missionaries, please. And pray for more of them. The harvest is great; the workers are few. Will you send? Will you go?
(Hey, have I got an opportunity for you! International Messengers Canada and USA are seeking summer volunteers for two-week commitments in Eastern Europe. Check out www.im-canada.ca)