Today is part two of “Have We Lost Something?” and we are hearing from Missionary Wives who have graciously agreed to answer some questions about their experiences coming back to the US from the foreign mission field.
Yesterday’s post (part 1) was this blogs highest read post on any single given day. That makes me hopeful. Hopeful that other Christian women are joining with me to re-evaluate our norms.
I am thankful for the perspective of these women. Although their ministry for Christ is lived out in remote parts of the world, they are regular women just like us. But we are different in one way: they see things in the US that we don’t see due to our immersion in the culture. And many said that each time they come home on furlough, the change is more extreme/marked.
This is invaluable information, because without their perspective, we miss it.
I also want to be clear, that I ASKED for these answers.
These women are not answering with a judgmental attitude. In many cases they hedged their comments with “We all have our blind spots” and “I am not trying to sound holier than thou” or “I am certainly nobody.” That is the spirit in which they wrote. Not finger-pointing, but giving the truth in love because I asked them to. And isn’t that the loving thing to do? Prepare each other for eternity some day?
So here are their answers:
Question 2. What have we lost as Christians/Christian families that we may not even realize?
We’ve lost time together as families. We’ve lost quiet time where we can think and meditate on the Word. Susan Knipe, South Africa
Togetherness. Simplicity. Time. Space. Enjoying Simple Things. Joy F., Indonesia
How isolated from people we can become (even when we’re surrounded by them in the home, workplace, or stores) when we are constantly busy using electronics. I like and use electronics, but Stateside people seem so obsessed with them! I do believe it isolates people from each other, even within families.- Heidi Seawright, Cambodia
Right priorities…there were those whose priorities were more towards tradition and out-doing other’s modesty/conservative standards/etc. it was like a contest of who could be the most Christian.- Jennifer Smith, Argentina
“We are no longer taught what it means to sacrificially serve others and sacrificially live for God.” -anon
When life is “easy” and comfortable, I fear that we lose the concept of being on a pilgrimage toward heaven. We don’t tend to hold onto things loosely, but are always working to make things even more easy and comfortable for ourselves.” Heidi Seawright, Cambodia
“A missions mindset: I think the thing that discourages us most on furlough is when you walk into a church and do not see that missions is important. Churches that have supported you for years and people do not know you. The pastor forgets you were coming even though you sent a confirmation. You have no idea who the pastor’s wife is. She is nowhere to be seen. People do not come to your table. You stand there with your prayer cards after driving hours and hours to get to a meeting and show your heart, show the church what you’ve done with their money and they don’t show any real importance to it. This is not every church, but there are quite a few that support us like this. I sound very negative, and I’m not a negative person. I have learned one thing in this ministry. You do it for GOD and God alone or don’t do it at all.” -anon
3. What ways have we become ineffective and why?
“In some places, we noticed how Christians didn’t look or act much different from their unsaved peers. We’re not standing out as salt and light as much as we should.” Susan Knipe, South Africa
“I think a lot of Christians in the US have gotten too comfortable….life is easy, so their faith becomes easy and lax. Since we don’t have struggle, hardships, poverty right in front of us, it is easy to get caught up in everyday life of pursuing our own comfort.” –Joy F.,Indonesia
We’ve lost sight of our destination–heaven. We’re trying to find fulfillment here and God didn’t design us to have that kind of fulfillment on this earth. When we’re heavenly minded we view things, people, trials, vocation, etc. so differently.
I think ineffectivity, if that’s a word, comes when people do things because they are ‘supposed’ to, or because everyone else is doing it, rather than because it is the best thing for your church or your area. I’ve seen churches so focused on having all the same ministries that other churches have, they don’t see what ministries would actually minister to their community and bring the people in who would be ministered to. To be effective, you have to look at who you are ministering to and provide what they need– Jennifer Smith, Argentina
I’ll never forget during our last furlough when we were at a church on a Wednesday night that offers various classes to choose from. Two godly ladies who have degrees from Bible colleges sat down for the class and commented it was the 3rd time they’ve taken it. I wanted to yell out, “Then why are you SITTING HERE???” On the field we have folks take a discipleship class and then turn around and teach it to someone else, thereby reproducing themselves. Why waste all that Bible college education sitting and always taking, taking, taking???” -Amy Greenwood
A lot to ponder, isn’t it?
But let’s not just take it in, let’s make it useful and let it change us. Let’s pray that God would open our eyes to our own culture, to see things the way He see’s them, and that we’d open our hearts to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
I am so thankful for each woman who responded. YOU are a blessing to me and I so appreciate your truthfulness and faithfulness.
**This was an eye opener for me. And because of all the input and honesty from missionary wives, I have decide to dedicate one more post to understanding how we can help missionaries on furlough. I want to know what local churches can do to bless you; what is unintentionally hurtful to you. What are the most encouraging things we can do for your on your “vacation”–haha—JUST KIDDING!! If you have input, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.