This week we’re talking about missions vs. missionaries. This is the third post in the series. Click here to start at the beginning. Please note that some names have been changed for the protection of missionaries and their families.
Yesterday guest blogger, Kevin, asserted that living missionally and being a missionary are NOT the same. It’s true!
Sure, if I learned Spanish, I could communicate with some of my neighbors far better, but I don’t need to learn a new language to buy groceries or function on a daily on a basis. Yes, I encounter spiritual warfare, but the battles are so far below the surface I hardly notice or even think about it. All in all, staying home is WAY easier than going!
Elijah (working in an undisclosed nation) put it this way:
“The highs are higher then you get just living at home and doing what everybody else does, but the lows are far lower then living at home and doing what everybody else does. There is very little, or none at all, middle ground. there is no even terrain. It is all steep uphill or steep downhill.”
Several affirmed this thought. One added:
“Spiritual warfare is real, and it is being waged now, against us, against them. We cannot be anonymous here. Every move is watched.”
— David, aviation technician in Africa
While life for career missionaries is definitely more complicated, more intense, the responses to my questionnaire held one major chorus: Missionaries not that different from you.
Here are some more direct quotes from the people I interviewed.
“I think it’s misunderstood that we can’t relate to problems that others have because we’re ‘super spiritual and don’t know what it’s like to live in the real world.’ I think that it’s misunderstood that we don’t laugh, cry, worry, just like everyone else.”
— Susie, grew up in South America
“We are real people with struggles. Don’t put us on a pedestal and say, ‘I could never do what you do’… Neither can I! Give us grace when we mess up or fail; understand that we are sinners just like [everyone else], seeking to serve God in the way He has called us!”
— Michelle, church planter in Mexico
We are not super-spiritual, we are just somewhere else. We are tempted just like the folks back home. Recognizing her own laziness, one co-worker lamented “God, I have come all the way to [this nation] for you; do I really have to leave my house to go visit my neighbors now?!”
— Adam, worker in undisclosed nation
“We are the same [as everyone else]. We just happened to believe that God called us to leave our homes and move to a foreign land. No matter where we are, if we call ourselves believers we all have the same responsibility: to share the Love of Jesus to those around us.”
— Eve, worker in undisclosed nation
Throughout the rest of the week, I’ll be sharing more Voices from the Fields along with ways that we can encourage them and one another to seize the opportunities to which God invites us.
For another perspective on this (and my personal journey with missional vs. missionary), please visit my guest post on Of Dust and Kings. It’s called “Exotic Suburbia: How to Discover the Mission on Your Doorstep.”
Talk to me!
What one question do you have about missions or missionary life? Feel free to post more than one!