Dear Mission Pastors and Outreach Committees, (www.LifeImpactMinistries.net)
Do you ever ask the question, “Why should we do Missionary care?” Past thinking has been that missionaries are very strong emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually or they wouldn’t go out. So we don’t have to worry about them, or be overly concerned. The fact is that cross-cultural workers put themselves in harm’s way day in and day out and this wears out their strength as it does a wrestler who has met their match.
A couple years ago I attended a “Personal Security” workshop at the Portland Care ConneXion. The presenter informed us of many places in the world where kidnapping of Americans or Europeans was a common occurrence. He cautioned us to require the missionary to change the time they leave their home every day; to change their driving routes every day; and to be alert for any parked cars in their area with people sitting in them. Ouch! Train our missionaries to operate like this in their country of outreach? What an unstable and stressful lifestyle! How long could you manage this without wearing out just from this one factor — security?
At the 2013 Mission Care ConneXion in Portland, Oregon, Scott, Missionary Care Provider and Director of Staff Development for Barnabas International, shared the following list of actual missionary stressful events he and his wife, Beth, have processed with workers over the past couple years in their missionary care travels:
- Lack of justice experienced in many areas of life
- Car bombs going off — hopefully not in our family’s immediate vacinity
- Sexual harrassment when out and about by groping men
- Random arrests — like in a police state. Will that happen to us?
- Constant flow of horrific stories of things happening around us told by national friends
- Kidnapping and murder of a child in the expat community
- Hospitals are starving kids instead of caring for them
- Seeing death happen around me
- Team mate was kidnapped — am I next?
- Teammate threatens you physically — and he’s supposed to be a Christian leader?
- Teammate betrays your trust
- Abandonment by the nationals or the organization
- Street executions
- Death threats to us and national friends
- National friends turning on you
- National friends robbing you
- Friend hit kids with his car by mistake
- Children being sexually abused — we’ve experienced that in our family!
- Man in power uses and abuses girls — sex slavery is swept under the rug or kept quiet
- People being burned to death
Of course, these things don’t happen in every country, and in every nook and cranny where missionaries live and work. However, these are common enough experiences in missionary life around the globe that Incident Debrief Counseling and Trauma Counseling are present therapies provided by many missionary caregivers.
Folks — we are living in a dangerous world and we’re sending missionaries out there from stable countries with idealism, faith, commitment, and zeal. Let’s be aware of their context and care for them so they don’t come back maimed, broken and worn out!
Providing global places of rest and retreat for workers experiencing this type of trauma is one strategy for keeping them strong and on their fields of service in places where the violence and difficult situations persist. That is Life Impact’s mission — to strengthen your missionaries through safe and quiet places.
(Life Impact exists to strengthen missionaries and pastors in hosted Care Centers, we call Oases. Our Staff are called and equipped to both host them and help them process issues of interest to them. Please encourage your missionaries to visit one of our Global locations.)