"10 Things Missionaries Won't Tell You"

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I don’t know if you saw this viral post or not but it’s worth a read. It’s not something that I entirely agree with, but there are many feelings expressed that we have felt at some time or another. Many of them are fleeting feelings that we deal with and seek God’s sovereignty in.

Because of this, I thought I’d give some specific thoughts to his various points; the original just felt a little negative and glossed over some of what we’ve been finding God to be up to. Hopefully it will give you a deeper insight into who we are.

1. THEY DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO WRITE…BUT THEY DO IT FOR YOU.

It is sometimes difficult to find the time and energy to write but its importance goes beyond the simplistic “we do it for you.” We write because we want others drawn into the work but we write just as much because we want to draw ourselves deeper into the work. It helps to remember the joys, the victories and the sorrows and defeats. It helps us to pray and plan and dig deeper. Yes much of it gets published (but not all) because we want our community to feel as if they are really a part of the work (because they are!).

2. FACEBOOK “LIKES” DON’T PAY THE BILLS. & 3. THEY ASK FOR MONEY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHOICE.

I think these are the two that struck me as the most negative. I think the attitude might stem from a misunderstanding of the role and place of fundraising. There are Biblical reasons to fundraise. It’s not the only way forward and sometimes it’s not what God calls us to, but when it is, it is a wonderful opportunity to invite and draw others into “kingdom work”. So like our facebooks statuses because of what we post. Give when the Lord prompts to give and don’t think that we’ll judge if you don’t.

4. YOU’LL NEVER HEAR ABOUT THEIR WORST DAYS.

Actually this is true in part. Not necessarily for the reasons the author lists (you wouldn’t believe or would just want to come rescue); often things like the fact that we don’t have permission to tell others peoples stories come in to play. Often what makes a day so bad we don’t have permission to talk about. Often openly talking about it on social media would involve denigrating our host culture (which is something we refuse to do especially in such a public fashion).

Ask us in person though and we will tell you everything we can. We’ll talk about the hard times. We might get into the cultural things we struggle with. We might mention some of the other things we won’t talk about in a public fashion. We want to be as open as possible.

5. THEY NEED A VACATION…BUT WON’T TELL YOU IF THEY TAKE ONE.

Everyone needs time off. We aren’t machines. You aren’t machines. But this point he makes is true: it’s hard to talk about (especially when living on support). We have missionary friends that have gone on vacation and posted about it on facebook and got lots of flack for it (even though it wasn’t in any way an extravagant vacation nor was it something they always did). There is an expectation that because we are missionaries we should be working 24/7/365.

Luckily this isn’t something we’ve struggled as much with. We are blessed with an understanding community around us (as far as I know). We’ve had supporters and supporting churches specifically give for vacations. They will tell us “only use this gift to get away and have some fun.” And yes, we always try and do it as cheaply as possible even bumming stays at vacation homes when possible. But we don’t like talking about it for fear of the reaction that some friends have gotten.

And if you want to know, we do need a vacation (I wouldn't mind being in the picture attached to this post). We’ve been running hard (and stressed) from moving, settling, learning a language and culture and starting up a new work in East Africa. If you have a good idea for one, let us know!

6. HOSTING TEAMS IS A NIGHTMARE.

This is the one I disagree with the strongest. It’s not a nightmare. It can be very tough work. And sometimes it doesn’t work out well. But it is worth the trouble. Seriously. We’ll set expectations from the get go (and maybe this is why short term trips are such a pain for the author of the original) and help guide you into the work as best as we can.

I do agree: don’t come on a mission trip with the same mindset that you’d take to a Caribbean beach. But come, experienced or not. We’ll walk with you, integrate you in to what’s going on as best as possible, and pray that you leave changed for the better.

Even if we need a vacation when your team leaves, we say come! Just prepare to bring a couple extra suitcases fully of goodies for our daughter from her grandparents.

7. “GOING HOME” IS A LOT OF WORK.

This one is pretty accurate. Nothing to add here. It is a lot of work. It’s worth it, but it is a lot of work.

8. IT’S EASY FOR GOD TO TAKE A BACK SEAT IN THEIR LIFE.

I think this is something that could affect anyone regardless of position. Sure we definitely have to watch out for it (and we have walked through drier seasons) but so does everyone.

9. IT’S HARD TO TRUST PEOPLE.

I put this into the category of discernment. You’ve always have to measure the people you are surrounded by. The author’s conclusion (I refuse to get burned again. If that means I have to do everything myself, then so be it.) makes me a bit sad though. Maybe we haven’t been at it long enough (5 years now) but to not even try seems tragic. We are quite careful in our relationships but very open to them; it’s how the kingdom works. Doing everything on our own wouldn’t get us very far.

10. THEY ARE LONELY.

Yes there are times we can be quite lonely. We have experienced this quite a bit in this season of starting things up in East Africa. This is why we firmly believe in working at mission as a community. We had a fantastic community in Cape Town that kept lonliness at bay and we are building a wondeful community here; it is a high priority (that just takes time).