My wife and I recently spent a couple of weeks in Madagascar with our son-in-law, daughter and two grandbabies who serve as career missionaries with the International Mission Board. Here are some lessons learned while there.
1. We should be very grateful for American plumbing. It is a good thing. Perhaps you haven’t thanked the Lord for those many blessings that other places don’t take for granted. The Western world has unbelievable riches compared to much of our world. With those blessings come some responsibilities.
2. Missions is hard. After the idealism wears off there is the reality of difficult language study- or in the case of my family, sort of two languages to learn with the dialect of their people group. There is the reality of bad smells and undependable electricity and strange food and customs. It is hard.
3. The call matters. If you become a career missionary to see the world and have fun and take some neat pictures you will undoubtedly leave. If you have a clear call from God to career missions- even if you have nothing else- you can make it. That may end up being all that helps you make it. But God’s will is always the right place to be.
4. Support from “home” matters. Career missionaries need our prayers and love and our encouragement. And, a package of goodies from home doesn’t hurt.
5. Encouragement helps. It is nice for missionaries to know that family and friends and home churches care. There are plenty of discouragements that come easily- and the enemy knows how to use that tool. But encouragement is like the balm of Gilead. And who doesn’t like a little balm of Gilead on occasion?
6. Missionaries can have lasting and long term impact. I love mission trips, but they can’t replace the need for career missionaries who learn the language and culture and needs and opportunities.
7. It is great to have a caring missions network. The IMB is a network of like-minded folks who help with logistics and accountability and planning. I am so grateful for them. I know they are imperfect people, but they provide a valuable safety net.
I will be giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year (100% goes to the IMB for international missions) and encourage you to do the same. And, I am going to thank the Lord again for American plumbing- really, really grateful for that. Really.