The Missionary’s Spiritual Life
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16
Contrary to popular belief, missionaries are not spiritual giants. They are subject to the same doubts, temptations and struggles that their counterparts at home face. But, the crucible of living and working in another culture may make these difficulties even more pronounced.
- Consistent times of prayer and learning from scripture
- Meaningful worship and fellowship times
- Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control
- Victory over Satan
- Commitment to their purpose
The Missionary’s Ministry
“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3
God has not called missionaries to other cultures simply to subsist, raise families, and become multilingual. They are sent to minister and share Christ with others. But the technicalities of living overseas often keep missionaries from fulfilling their purposes.
- A work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of non-believers
- People for whom your missionary has requested prayer
- The particular ministry with which your missionary is involved
- Wisdom in the use of time, resources, and energy
The Missionary’s Family
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 1:1-2
Many effective missionaries have had to leave their ministry due to family complications. Whether it is inadequate schooling for their children, elderly parents who need care at home, or a family whose behavior falls short of Christ-likeness, Satan often uses these kinds of problems to hinder effective ministry.
- Strong marriages
- Support from family at home
- The family to be an example for believers and unbelievers
- Needs of the children
Relationships with Fellow Workers
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-21
The image of a lone missionary settling in a remote village, struggling to learn an unwritten language, introducing the entire population to Christ, and returning to churches at home to report progress, is not universal. Many missionaries rarely work alone. A missionary’s team includes fellow missionaries, national leaders and co-workers, and the mission organization, as well as prayer partners. Working with a team is not always easy, even less so when different cultures are involved.
- A spirit of cooperation on the team
- Eagerness to submit to and learn from each other
- Lack of friction
- Willingness to confront lovingly
The Missionary’s Place of Service
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!‘” Revelation 7:9-10
Knowing about the climate, history, religion, and government of your missionary’s country helps you pray more intelligently. Is it a country where Christians are imprisoned or martyred? Is it a “creative access country” where missionaries are not welcome and thus must enter as tentmakers? Is it a rich or poor country? Perhaps it is a region scarred by years of war or domestic strife.
- The political and economic situation
- Growth of the national church in that region
- Visas and continued entrance for missionaries
- Safety for Christian workers
The Missionary’s Ability to Communicate
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2
Missionaries learn the language of the people they will be reaching. They aim to communicate Christ’s love in the language of the heart. In cultures where nodding means “no,” or asking about a person’s male family members is a prerequisite to beginning a conversation, or lying is the basis of communication, a missionary faces numerous challenges. Not only must missionaries learn the language, but they must also learn the culture. Mastery of a language is a life-long pursuit.
- Diligence in life-long language study
- National friends from whom to learn the language and culture
- Willingness to “hit the streets” and talk to people even when linguistic ability is weak
- Cultural sensitivity to host culture and co-workers from other cultures
- Prepared hearts and good ground for sowing the gospeL
- Communication with family, supporters, and teammates
The Missionary’s Physical Needs
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Financial support, good health, equipment, transportation, adequate housing, safety in sometimes dangerous situations – the physical needs of a missionary are great! But, so is our Lord’s ability to provide! Through receiving your missionary’s prayer letter [available on our website on each missionary’s page] you should know the specific needs he has. Here are some suggestions to get you started in prayer.
- Health, safety and timely medical care
- Deliverance from depression, loneliness, or anxiety
- Housing, schooling, and transportation needs
- Contentment in all things
MISSIONARY KIDS (MKs)
Missionaries’ children are extremely important members of the missionary team. Because God has called their parents to ministry, He has also called the children to participate. Not only do they have to face life outside their own country and the responsibility to represent Christ appropriately, but they also have the usual struggles of growing and maturing. Effective, strategic, knowledgeable prayer on behalf of MK’s can prevent the significant loss of whole families to the ministry.
“He [GOD] has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5b
MK’s may face tremendous transitions in their growing years. Because of frequent change of location, they struggle to maintain solid, continuing friendships. Some attend boarding schools and must adjust from home to school and back several times a year They may move many times. In addition, coming on home service (furlough) or going to college brings additional stress as MK’s struggle to adjust to a new culture and build new relationships.
- Fun, uplifting, and lasting friendships despite changes
- Trust in and reliance on God during transitions
- Development of social skills
- Ability to fit back into their home culture during home service (furlough) or college
- Adequate and appropriate educational opportunities
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” I Timothy 4:12
An MK’s choices affect his parents’ ministry either positively or negatively. Nationals may closely observe missionary families to see if the message of Christ is credible. Home churches may expect unusually perfect behavior. As a result, the entire family must work as a team to bring the gospel both through their ministry and lifestyle. Temptations are heavy for MK’s; they may experience raw exposure to drugs, alcohol, pornography and satanic attack in their host countries.
- Grace to handle the responsibility of being observed
- Protections from the enticements of their host culture
- Discernment and strength when facing temptations
- Love for the people in their host country and their home country
- Upright behavior
“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16
Because missionaries’ ministry is often highly consuming, MK’s may be jealous of their parents’ time and attention. They need strong relationships with their parents as well as with other Christian adults. MK’s need other mature Christian mentors to reinforce their parents’ beliefs and encourage them to walk close to Christ.
- Honest, joyful, fulfilling relationships with their parents
- Parents’ balance between tasks and family
- Open family communication
- Appreciation for their parents’ ministry
- Other adult Christians to encourage and guide them
- Good relationships with siblings
“My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:2-3
MK’s, with their parents, face threats of persecution, disease or physical danger living overseas. Travel can also be dangerous. Some families face threat of robbery or physical attack. Some live far from any significant medical assistance; others live with less than ideal medical care. Many have no clean, safe place to play outside.
- Emotional dependence on God’s protection
- Rest in God’s sovereignty
- Protection from illness, disease, and life threatening situations
- Absence of fear
- Awareness of potential dangers