It must be hard to be a missionary and to have to write reports home detailing your life and ministry. I’m sure all want to be honest, but many must find it hard to be honest when those to whom they are writing control the dollars which enable them to stay where they are. So, rare is the prayer letter which says “the strain of ministry here has put a great strain on our family” or “we find that after four years here, we have not seen any conversions” or “sometimes I feel like quitting”. Such things are often felt, but rarely written. I understand.
But that can give us a false image of the brokenness that can often be a part of cross-cultural ministry. When a missionary is able to crack a window on his or her broken heart, it not only helps us appreciate what they confront, which can inform our prayers, but it as well can encourage us in our own brokeness.
For a number of years we have been friends with a couple who have been serving in a difficult, predominantly Muslim, part of the world. They find themselves now in a situation which demands that they leave that place which has become their home. They may never be able to go back. And so it is with a profound sense of sadness and grief that they face this move.
Perhaps reading the wife’s reflections on their impending move will give you a greater appreciation for the missionaries you know and the struggles that the tenderness of their hearts cause them to face.
This is a long quote, but worth reading and pondering. It is quoted with permission.
But the harder thing is that we’re telling our friends. And this is the point where I always get emotional. I can talk about the facts of the move ok, but when I start to talk about our friends, I break down. From the first, we have always been here in _____ for the people. Simply put, we love them. God called us to this amazing country to share His love with such wonderful, warm, giving people, all of them made in His image, and He has blessed us with a lot of really special relationships. So, it is really hard to give them up. We’ve learned that, while sure there are sacrifices made in coming to the field, the real sacrifice is when God takes you off that field. When you decide to come, you are making the choice to serve God in the way He has called. And, you still have connections that withstand the distance, especially as you are able to phone, email, and visit home occasionally. But when you have to leave and you don’t know that you will ever be able to visit and many of your friends don’t have email and it is really hard to type Arabic with English letters anyway… 😦 We have to remind ourselves that these precious people will remain in our hearts, even if we aren’t able to stay in touch. That they are a blessing we would never have experienced if we hadn’t come here – and oh, how much richer our lives are because of them! And, I realize that I can trust God to leave them in His hands. Even though many of them have no other believer in their lives, that is not an obstacle for God. We are not their Savior, Jesus is. So, I have to give them over to Him, one by one, in my prayers. Often repeatedly.
And here’s where another big reason I haven’t written comes into play. I haven’t wanted to talk about it. I’ve been mourning, but I’ve realized that I’ve also been really rebellious in my attitude. It took me a while to dissect it, but I found that the emotions I’m feeling were really familiar. I was experiencing the same sense of loss, of betrayal, of things happening beyond my control that have a huge impact on my life as I did when my parents divorced when I was in high school. And that discovery make me understand that I was handling things in the same way that I did when I was 16 – basically feeling bitter and unhappy and passively rebellious.
Soooo. Well, I’ve been praying about it. And God reminded me that I once told Him that I wanted Him to control my life and, as a result, He started changing things up in really startling ways. I had certainly never expected to be a worker overseas and yet that was what God had in store for me. Such a blessing it turned out to be! And now He is changing things up again because He is still the One in control. That comforted me to be reminded of that. Another thing He has reminded me is that I am called to be thankful, to bless the Lord in all circumstances. And I’ve begun doing that again. Two years ago, when we were ordered out of the country, praising God even in the midst of my tears was my immediate reaction and I had so much peace about it all. It’s so crazy that I didn’t start there again this time, but I was too busy being upset about it all… Anyway, I’m not saying that I’m done mourning because I’m sure that will continue, but I am asking the Holy Spirit to change my heart – not that I would ever stop loving our friends here, but that I would rejoice despite our departure.
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