17 October 2016

Celebrating 15 years as a missionary in Kenya; candid thoughts from David Joannes

My young friend,
Martin, 2005

[The following is an excerpt from David Joannes' blog. He is a long-term missionary in China, with an articulate voice in stories of justice and social concern, especially among the poor.] 

Make no mistake about it: cross cultural missionary work is not easy. Throwing in the towel is an inviting consideration.

I’m not going to lie to you. Being a missionary? It’s not easy.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to be thankful for. Being a missionary? It’s rewarding. We feel secure knowing that we are right where God wants us to be. I’d dare even say it’s simple, because life boils down to the basic Christian principle of trust and obey.

Rewarding? Yes.

Easy? No.

My mud hut, 2003

Missionary attrition is a real thing. We don’t pack our belongings in coffins like our missionary heroes of the past, and modern technology has made it incredibly easy to return home after a few years on the mission field.

So… How do you help? Simple. Don’t forget us.

You’re there. We’re here.

Unless we make a lot of noise on the Social-Media-Platform-of-Choice and unless we reach out to you, you probably don’t spend much time mulling over us. After all, you’re living your own life and struggling with your own struggles. We get it. We understand. Really. We do. Still, it would be nice to hear from you once in a while.

The mission field is rife with stories of missionaries who traveled halfway across the world, adjusting to a new culture, being traumatized by the transition, and never hearing as much as a “how are you?” from folks back home.

One friend of mine told me she never heard a word from her church for more than six months. She sent her newsletters regularly, and no one ever responded.

It doesn’t even have to be a long, complicated email. A friend of mine, who I haven’t talked to in years, just messaged me the other day with these simple words, “Hey. How are you? How can I pray for you today?”

It made such a difference.

Crossing a river, 2008

So yeah… back to that last question.

What makes life as a missionary hard? It’s different for all of us, so the best thing you can do is ask.

A simple message on Facebook or a quick email will suffice. You don’t even have to pay for postage stamps to do it. Let them know they’re remembered, ask them what they need prayers for and do pray for them. It really does help.

- David Joannes, davidjoannes.com

No comments: