Sending First Time Missionaries: What they wish you knew

21 Aug 2016

Imagine for a moment that you have moved out of your home, left your job and sold most of your possessions.  You know what city you will be going to live in but not exactly where, or what it will be like, or what you will do.  You are completely dependent on others for your income and you daily provisions. How stressed out would you be?

This is the reality for many of our first-time missionaries in the final stages of transition from Australia to their ministry location. It was the Lord who called them to make these sacrifices, and it is the Lord who promises to take care of them.  They are not victims, they have chosen these circumstances and put themselves in this position.  Yet …

We asked some of our first-time missionaries a question and reading through their responses, I must admit I had tears in my eyes as I allowed myself to feel a little of the stress and grief that they are going through. Here’s the question and what they said.

What I wish people knew about what I are going through right now

I wish my friends and family knew how stressful this transition can be, and amongst the excited days, there are also sad days. Offers to help pack, clean and sensitivity around items being sold would have been appreciated, especially on the weeks it all felt too overwhelming.

In the year leading up to departure life becomes very busy with paper work, support raising and preparations – it feels like a second full time job! We are in constant need of practical help but have few people to ask, so if you know missionaries heading out it would be great to offer specific support, whether that’s cooking them a meal, meeting to pray with them or babysitting so they can do things like visit small groups or even just have a night out!

HOW MUCH there is to juggle — while still working full time, you are catching up with people, going to Pioneers preparation (training, catch ups, interviews, etc.), reading mission books, doing all the logistics (i.e. insurance, packing up your life, etc.) And on top of that, you are still a person with the need for down time.

I wish that there was a way of raising financial support without asking. That people could see Christianity as a mission, the church as a missionary agency. That more and more this could be who we are, what we do. I wish they knew this wasn’t a decision that was made flippantly.

Catching up one-on-one all the time is very special, but it gets super hard if everyone wants one-on-one. Two or three is so great for many reasons, aside from sharing the story of why I am going. People all see the story differently and it can help others connect with the story in a different way depending on how they see things.

I wish that my friends and family knew how stressful and tiring it is to be in “no man’s land” as you transition out of your ministry here at home while preparing for your future ministry overseas. During this time, you have to deal with a high degree of uncertainty as to when you will be leaving (if at all) and what you will actually end up doing overseas.

The beauty of raising support — it is a really special time and process, but how helpful it can be when those who want to financially support put forward their thoughts on paper, even with an “effective upon departure” statement for support

I wish we could just go see a movie or go for a hike — in essence, just distract me for a bit – away from the talking about missions. Just spend some time with me.

As friends, family, church family, supporters of new missionaries we can be mindful of the stress they are under and show our love and care for them as they get ready to start a whole new way of life. Let’s use our own personalities, talents and capacities to support them in different ways from a listening ear, a coffee and a prayer, or practical helps.  Let our thoughtfulness be the WD40 of their transition.

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