In the past weeks I’ve had different meetings with missionary families we support at Journey through our Global Development Ministry. They all happen to serve under the Converge Organization which covers 1,300 churches globally.
Each of the three families’ stories was unique, but they also held some commonality.
The first family has served for 15 years. They are dealing with family health issues. The wife’s father has Stage 2 Parkinson’s disease and her stepmother has early onset dementia. They struggle with the stress of returning to the field and trying to make caregiving decisions from afar.
The second couple, young teachers in the field for 10 years, are in the process of moving from one school to another. Their challenge is finding ways to raise more ministry support annually to sustain their work.
The third couple has served for over 25 years. They are dealing with the effects of depression and trying to create a plan for stepping down from missionary service. They’re also wrestling with a child who is not currently walking with God, and an aging parent.
These conversations reminded me again how difficult it is to be a missionary. The challenges of family and being caught in the sandwich between our children and our parents is increasingly difficult. I also know many missionary families who are retiring in the next few years, only to face the challenges of inadequate financial reserves waiting for them.
In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in very honest terms. In Chapter 1 he shared his own discouragement. Later he wrote about his thorn in the flesh, and a litany of difficult experiences he survived (2 Cor. 11-12). Yet through all of this, he found that God is the God of comfort and strength. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Recently two of my best friends have passed away. One had a massive heart attack at 60 years of age. The other, a friend from my boyhood years, died, the cause of death still unknown. I know we all go through difficult periods of struggle in our lives. None of us is exempt, even those of us in God’s service.
I don’t know all the challenges facing our missionaries, but I do know I can help them through continual prayer. These folks, doing God’s work every day, need prayer from all of us. I’m asking you, our Journey family, who graciously supports these missionaries through financial offerings, to also lift them in prayer on a daily and weekly basis.
On behalf of Journey of Faith, I pray God will bless and keep each one of our missionary teams. May His face shine upon them, and may He give each one of them peace as they continue to work for Him.
As one missionary leader stated, we really are “better together.” Let’s pray for them together as a church body.