Everybody Deserves a Break (even a missionary!)
11 Dec 2017
If missionaries don’t learn to rest well, to take time out with their family or for themselves, it can impact their mental health and family wellbeing, and may even lead to coming home earlier than they had hoped. In order to be there for the long haul, it is important they learn ways to deal with stress, and to not feel guilty about rest or taking a holiday.
My husband and I run a retreat house, south of Adelaide, for missionaries and pastors. A place for them to come and rest that is affordable, near a beach and scrub reserve, and with possible time for debrief & counselling. This came out of our own experience of stressful living overseas, mental health issues, and seeing how rest, debrief, counselling and time out in nature helped us.
Missionaries can be driven people. They are driven by the gospel, and have given up the opportunity to live a comfortable life in their home country. They step out because they want to be obedient to God, and his Word. Everyday living in a different culture reminds you that you are there for a purpose. Apart from this internal drive and sense of purpose, many have the added pressure that churches and individuals are financially supporting them to be there to get a job done. This pressure can lead missionaries to feel guilty about rest. They can feel guilty when they take a holiday, or for taking time out for fun.
So why rest? Why take a holiday?
Cross cultural living is highly stressful. I’m not even talking about the big stressful events many missionaries encounter from time to time, I’m talking about the everyday ho-hum of life living overseas. Learning to communicate in a different language and trying to understand and be understood, learning how to buy your basic needs, financial stress, ongoing visa stress, security stress, the stress of moving your family, education stress, and stress from living in areas of poverty, the list could go on.
Supporters can help missionaries relieve some of this guilt by showing understanding about this need. During our time of rest, someone gave us a cash gift and said it was to go and have fun! As someone who likes to be frugal, that was a real psychological gift as well as a financial one.
An important way to deal with stress is learning to detach, both physically and psychologically. Detaching psychologically is not as easy as you think. Many people in ministry find it hard to stop thinking about the ministry, even when they are resting or spending time with family. Detaching psychologically means giving your mind a break. We can do this by learning to lay the ministry down at Jesus feet, and purposefully doing activities to help give our mind the break it needs. There are many activities that can help us with this, such as playing a sport or physical exercise, playing a board game, reading a novel, being out in nature, enjoying a craft, etc.
If you are looking for a place to take a break from your ministry, then we welcome you to come to the retreat house, as we strongly believe in the importance of rest!
You can contact us here.
Or visit our website https://missionsinterlink.org.au/retreat/ .