“Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.“ Acts 14:27-28
How many of you missionaries have gone on a speaking circuit, on a furlough, and felt rested? My guess is that, if you’re anything like me, rest is not the first word to come to your mind.
How many of you supporters have wondered what your missionaries spend their time doing while in the States?
Please indulge me for a few minutes. I would like to share a little on what it is like for a missionary on furlough, especially when they have the responsibility of sharing about the work that God is doing.
For us the missionaries, we must remember that it is our joy to share. Sometimes we forget this, and we get overwhelmed and bogged down by the daunting task of trying to explain something inexplicable to people who have never been where we’ve been, seen what we’ve seen, or felt the blaring hot sun on their backs in the middle of an isolated camp or village. They can’t possibly understand. And yet, that is part of our calling: To report back to the believers who have held up our arms, prayed for us, and sent funds for the works. It is our responsibility to allow them to be a part of the ministry and to let them know that God is bearing fruit through their efforts. But it is also a privilege. How many people sitting in the pews wish they could SEE the people face to face, work in the hospitals, touch the hurting, or share a message? Many can’t physically do that except through us. We get to be their eyes in the global picture. We get to see both sides and bridge it together.
As my husband has come to the US for the first time, and I have come back here to share with the churches, we have been tremendously blessed. We are blown away by the love and support of churches, individuals and family. We have seen tears and laughter as we share our updates. It has shown us so clearly that we are not alone on the field! There are so many people that are a part of this work, and their love and encouragement these past weeks has truly lifted our spirits and brought us great comfort. So in that sense, we are very refreshed. As far as rest, though, that has not exactly been the case.
For you dear supporters, you are so important to us. We value you greatly. We are delighted to be welcomed to your churches, ministry groups, youth & young adult fellowships, etc. We truly feel your love. We can’t express in words how thankful we are for each and every one of you. We would also like you to know what your missionaries do on their furloughs. For one thing, we get healthy. We eat the variety of food that we miss most of the time. We get vitamins, we try to sleep, we work out. We pour our hearts and prayers into what we will share with each of you. We prepare slideshows and presentations to show in the churches and groups. Of course, we change it for each audience. We ask God to give us scriptures and words to encourage you and challenge you in your walks with the Lord. We put together newsletter sign ups and attend meetings. We speak, we meet with people, we man tables, we travel around the country and try to remember to thank everyone. We try really hard to remember everyone’s name, but not all of us (myself included) are very good at that part. We attempt to answer your questions as best we can to explain what our world looks like. We experience re-entry shock and have a hard time fitting into the culture here, especially because it has changed so much (at least I think it has - or maybe I have?). We have to change our language, because the people we minister to can’t understand our American English, our idioms, our accents or our thought process. We have adapted so much that we have to remember to re-adjust all of that when we are with you. Please forgive us for the times when we look so tired or forget to share something or don’t make sense to you. Truthfully, our heads are spinning a bit, and while we are encouraged and blessed to be with you, we are also tired, trying to adapt, and homesick for the closest thing to normal that we know.
That is some of what your missionary is doing on their furlough.
In this world that is so connected unlike any other time in history, we are so blessed. We get to skype, post updates on Facebook, and stay in better contact with you than ever before. We have it easy compared to the generations past. But it’s still not an easy life. It is an abundant and blessed life, a wonderful and amazing journey and adventure; but it’s not easy. For every one of you who follows Jesus wherever you are, things are getting harder and harder. All of us will feel that.
All of us should look up, and look forward to the place where there is no more culture gap, no more sickness or goodbyes. He is coming soon! In the meantime, we continue to do what we do because it is what we were created for, and we couldn’t imagine anything else.
Please let me know your thoughts!