Have We Lost Something? Missionary Wives Speak. Pt 2

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?

Toni making cookies with her kiddos at her cottage where they lived for a 6 month intensive Swahili language program in Limuru, Kenya. Isn't her smile contagious?? :)

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 joyfilledmama@gmail.com.

 

 

 

4 comments

  1. Zina says:

    Thanks for the posts from the last 2 days.
    They have encouraged me on an interesting level. I am American and my husband German. We have lived in Germany for the past 6 yrs. As I talk to and “see” via FB my friends from the States many things that were said here ring true.
    The one thing I have noticed is how little family time is spent together in the States. Everyone is doing his own thing. Many of our unbelieveing German friends spend more time together as a family than our believing Christian friends.
    I also have a Christian education and the comment about “always taking , taking…?” really touched me. I need to be open to God’s leading and I need to better my German!
    Thanks so much!

  2. No wonder yesterday’s was your most viewed post. This is extremely convicting. Salt and light. Wow! I am looking forward to the last installment.
    We have missionary friends in Indonesia that we are taking the whole family to visit next winter. Their kids are our kids friends. That is why we are all going. To hang. To encourage. To experience what they experience. I pray that we are a blessing.

  3. Thank you again, for another wonderful post with insight from current missionaries. That is one thing we could probably use more of in our lives–staying updated on current mission work. Reading updates (e-mails, blog posts) from current missionaries, finding out the needs in these places, and getting their perspective on life outside of our normal comfort zone. Even if we don’t all go overseas, we can learn the perspective of those “in the field” and adapt that to our lives and family and friend circles wherever we are. Thank you SO much to each one that shared their honest answers. I truly needed this.

  4. ann says:

    I am a missionary wife in Western Canada…a culture not far removed from the US, but different nonetheless. I grew up in the midwest USA. I would like to add something I haven’t seen anyone else add yet. I’m sticking my neck out here, but what I have seen in American culture is an over-inflated political identity, in other words, if you are an American Christian you may just think of your country as highly as your faith. While I understand patriotism, and I am the first to argue passionately for freedom, most Americans (Canadians too, for that matter) are very nonchalant about the wrongs done in the past to the people who were here first. If you bring up past injustices that have never been dealt with, people shut down as if you are attacking their “great” country. However, greatness comes in dealing with the past (and present, which is more affected by the past than you might think). It is sinful pride that sweeps sin under the rug. On the other hand, there are a few sweet, precious, incredible people who “get it”. They don’t stay stuck in arguments. They simply jump in and pray, come and serve, give, or some combo. I have seen both old and young listen, change their hearts, and love their country by admitting its shortcomings and grieving its past sins, all the while thanking God for His grace and provision.

    As for the weight issue, look no further than the state of the food supply. GM wheat, HF corn syrup, meat-rix factories, etc. While only God could tell if gluttony is on the rise, it is quite obvious to me that eating foods manufactured by Greed is a good way to be unhealthy.

    I cross the line about once a year, at least. I go through reverse culture shock every.single.time. It is always a good reminder to be constantly assessing the cultures I live amongst for what is good and for when I must buck the system.