Sending First Time Missionaries: Praying through the storms
15 Aug 2016
Prayer is one of the most important roles that senders can play in the Great Commission. Your prayers directly impact what is happening in the lives of missionaries. We’ve identified 5 struggles new missionaries most frequently experience during the first 6 months in their new location, and how you can pray for God’s peace for them in the midst of these ‘storms’.
Many developing countries do life in a louder, more pungent and more chaotic way than we do here in Australia. When a step outside your front door means car horns, street food, garbage piles, mangy dogs, and people pressing around you it can be exciting and overwhelming all at once. What is entertaining for a month or two, can become tiresome and frustrating.
Pray for adaptation to the new culture for understanding of different ways of doing things, and grace and patience when things don’t make sense. Pray for a quiet place and time during the day, and especially good times alone with the Lord, for refuelling.
As cute as babies are, none of us really want to be a baby again. Yet when you don’t speak the language, that’s how you often feel, like a baby saying goo-goo and gaga! Learning a new language to a reasonable level of conversation takes about two years of intentional effort. In the meantime, the limitations on your ability to communicate can be isolating and humiliating. Even when you are confident you’ve learnt some new words, when you try them out you can be met with furrowed eyebrows, or even worse, with laughter.
Pray for those missionaries in the initial language learning stage especially against discouragement. Pray for energy to keep trying, and humility and a sense of humour when there are miscommunications. Pray for their minds to learn the new sounds and words quickly, and for new friendships to form where they can practice their language skills.
When you don’t understand the culture, and have limited language, you are vulnerable to being taken advantage of. It might be that you are charged too much for bananas at the fruit stall, you are left waiting in the wrong queues at the visa office, or you might be taken by a taxi to the wrong destination. It’s so easy for these kind of injustices to not only make you angry, but to make you hardened to the very people you are wanting to love.
Pray for protection against those wanting to exploit new foreigners. Pray for a guard on hearts against anger and being reactionary when mistreated. Ask the Lord to provide local friends that can teach ways to negotiate the culture.
Life in another culture can be surprisingly exhausting. It is amazing how much time and energy can be required to do normal daily tasks like cooking, shopping, and doing the laundry, including challenges to health and safety. You might need to make 5 separate trips to the visa office, spending hours each time in various lines for rubber stamps and initials on forms, that don’t seem to follow any logical process. Many new missionaries find they have a much reduced capacity to ‘get things done’.
Pray for wisdom and patience in doing life in different ways. That new missionaries will be able to set aside their western-style task orientated goals, and look for the relationships that can be invested in along the way. Pray that they would seek and know of God’s purposes for them each day.
There can be a huge chasm between the expectations you have when you step onto the plane, and what you are experiencing 3 months into your new life. You left Australia with noble ideals, but find real life in your new country is not what you expected. This can lead to doubts: Did God really call me here? Can I really do this? What was I thinking?
Pray for these doubts to be quickly put in their place. That the Lord would bring scriptures to mind that encourage perseverance. Also that God would remind them of their call, and any specific promises He has made to them as they prepared to go.
We encourage you to pray as specifically as you can, so be sure that you are receiving the prayer updates from the missionaries you support. If you would like to receive our Pioneers monthly prayer-notes, with specific prayer points for each day please contact us to subscribe.