Often times missionaries are held in quite a high regard. People view them as selfless, heroic, and victorious soldiers of God.
The work they do is extremely admirable, but often this glorified perception is misleading.
Missionaries, too, struggle daily with trust in the Lord, strength, humility, stress, patience, and much more. Before considering missionary work, it’s important to reflect on the struggles that missionaries feel, and study what the Bible has to say on dealing with these intense emotions.
Preparing for Failure
It’s easy to view missionaries as extremely successful. After all, most of the stories we hear on mission work are success stories. While church planting and mission work prove to be one of the most successful ways to spread the word of the Lord, failure is still extremely prevalent.
In fact, facing failure may be one of the most prevalent missionary challenges there is. For first-time missionaries, failure comes as a major surprise, and is often incredibly disheartening. Facing rejection and judgement should not result in a loss of spirit.
The Bible ensures us that in our weakest of hours, we will gain strength:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10: But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Humility is often overlooked as a missionary challenge one might need to practice during mission work. After all, missionaries are ultimately trying to spread love to every soul. Why would they find it hard to stay humble? Unfortunately, failure is often accompanied with resentment.
Missionaries have given up a part of their life to submerge themselves into a new culture. But we forget that these areas may not be asking for help.
(India is one area with the least amount of access to the Bible. Learn more about this impact zone)
As more and more energy is expended, a missionary could become frustrated. Dealing with these emotions in a new, and altogether contrasting culture from your own can make a person bitter. Why do they do things this way? Why aren’t they hearing me? Our ways are not always the correct ways. Previously successful tactics used at home often fall flat in new cultures. Be humble, learn their culture, understand how they communicate, and you will be exalted.
Luke 14:11: For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Stress manifests itself in many forms, and it is an unfortunate truth that overseas mission work offers the perfect number of conditions for stress to grow and thrive.
Waking up every morning with the pressure to stay strong and confident in the face of judgment is a grueling missionary challenge. The new language barriers missionaries face can leave a person feeling uneasy. Safety is often a daily concern. The absence of loved ones weigh heavy on anyone’s heart.
Also, the lack of familiar food and shelter could have negative effects on your body. Our bodies are not use to a sudden change in foods, and our brains sometimes struggle to let us sleep in unfamiliar beds. All these factors, and much more, are cause for extreme anxiety, but remember: through prayer you will be brought peace.
Philippians 4:6,7. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Before doing mission work, work to prepare your mind for the emotional turmoils you might experience. Study your Bible, and find and memorize verses that speak to you. These will serve as medicine to your soul and maintain the strength you started with.
Interested in doing mission work? Contact Doulos Partners today.