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10 Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You

Being a missionary is hard work. Everybody knows that. But the things we think of as the hard parts – lack of modern amenities, exposure to disease, and the like – only begin to scratch the surface of the difficulties of real missionary life. Often, it is the things left unsaid that really begin to erode the passion and soul of a missionary. Here are just a few of those things…

1. THEY DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO WRITE…BUT THEY DO IT FOR YOU.

WHAT THEY SAY

Have you read my latest newsletter?

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Newsletters, blog posts, website updates – all the “experts” tell me that I need to be sending you fresh content on a regular basis so you won’t forget about me. But here’s the thing…writing is hard, especially for those who aren’t natural writers. You know what else is hard? HTML, CSS, PHP, and a bunch of other tech-geek stuff that you have to learn about just to make a decent-looking website or email. I really want to tell you what’s going on, but it’s hard to turn out gripping narratives while I have a sick child asleep in my lap. And if I have to look up how to code a “mailto” link one more time, I’m going to scream!

2. FACEBOOK “LIKES” DON’T PAY THE BILLS.

WHAT THEY SAY

Thank you so much for the encouragement!

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

I’m glad that you liked my Facebook status. I really am. The thing is, when I say we need $1,200 by the end of the week to pay the school fees for orphaned children, I’m talking about actual dollars and actual need. Contrary to the rumors, Bill Gates doesn’t donate a dollar for every Like. That part is up to you. So, the next time you Like my status, consider sending a few bucks my way too.

3. THEY ASK FOR MONEY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHOICE.

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m trusting God to provide, and I’m so thankful for our donors.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Lest you think #2 sounded a little whiny and money-hungry, you should know that I truly despise asking for money. I always have. And now I have to ask for it almost all the time. Even when I’m not asking for it, I’m thinking about asking for it. There are never enough funds to do all the good I’m trying to do, and I live with a nagging feeling that the one person I don’t ask is the one who would have written the big check. So, when I ask for money, know that I do so with fear and trembling.

4. YOU’LL NEVER HEAR ABOUT THEIR WORST DAYS.

worst-days

WHAT THEY SAY

Please pray for me. It has been a challenging week.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Things are pretty bad here. If I told you what’s really going on, you would either come rescue me, or think I was exaggerating. If you heard some of the things I’ve said out loud, you might question my salvation. If you knew some of the thoughts I’ve had rattling around in my head, you might question my sanity. Sometimes good days are hard to come by, but I don’t dare tell you the worst. If I did, you would probably tell me to throw in the towel.

5. THEY NEED A VACATION…BUT WON’T TELL YOU IF THEY TAKE ONE.

WHAT THEY SAY

I just need a time of refreshing.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

After 2 or 3 years of hard work, most people feel like they deserve a little break. Take the family to the beach. Visit a theme park, a national park, or Park City. I would love a vacation, but honestly, I feel guilty “pampering” myself, rather than putting all my time and resources into the ministry. On top of that, I know some people will judge me if my vacation is “too nice.” If I scrape and save pennies for 5 years so I can spend a week on an exotic island, you’ll never hear about it, because I can’t handle the snarky, “It must be nice” comments (the ones you’ll say to my face), or, “My donations paid for your vacation” (which you’ll think, but not say out lout – at least not to me). So, I keep some great stuff to myself for fear of being judged.

6. HOSTING TEAMS IS A NIGHTMARE.

teams

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m so excited about your team coming!

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Bless your heart. You think you’re doing me a favor. Thirty people show up at my door and expect me to provide transportation, food, lodging, sight-seeing, and a list of service projects a mile long. You’re here to “help.” The thing is, the other 51 weeks out of the year, we manage to do what needs to be done here just fine. That is, except for the time we spend working on the logistics for your team. You come over and want to help build a fence, when I can hire local workers to build a fence for a tiny fraction of what you spent to come here. I appreciate your desire to help, and I even love having visitors, but consider the size and expectations of your group before you plan your trip. A team of 3 or 4 highly skilled people is much more valuable to our ministry than a gaggle of mission tourists.

7. “GOING HOME” IS A LOT OF WORK.

going-home

WHAT THEY SAY

It’s great to be back home.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Please understand, I now have two homes. When I’m at one, I’m away from the other, and there is a lot of emotion involved in that. On top of that, my life is absolutely crazy when I go “home.” I have to see relatives and friends, visit with partner churches, and take care of any number of issues that have arisen with my health, my electronic devices, and my government paperwork. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, I spend my time living out of suitcases and hustling from one appointment to the next. Is it good to be home? Sure. But when I get on that plane to go to my other home, I breathe a sigh of relief that life is almost back to “normal.”

8. IT’S EASY FOR GOD TO TAKE A BACK SEAT IN THEIR LIFE.

church

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m not very good at self-care.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Let’s face it, I’m no saint. I’m not any more spiritual than you are. I don’t start my day with three hours of devotional reading and prayer. I typically just get up and get to work. And there is a lot of work to be done. In fact, there is so much need here that it’s really easy to become so focused on doing things for God that I lose sight of God himself. In pursuing my calling, I’ve somehow forgotten about the caller. My spiritual life is almost nonexistent, other than the occasional desperate cry of “Why God?”

9. IT’S HARD TO TRUST PEOPLE.

trust

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m just looking for some good strategic partners.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

There are good people here, there really are. But I have seen the worst of humanity in my work here – much of it from people I worked with and trusted. Other missionaries and pastors can be the worst. Just when you think you know someone, they stab you in the back, the front, and both sides. I’ve gotten to where I simply don’t trust anyone. My guard is up, and it’s not coming down. I refuse to get burned again. If that means I have to do everything myself, then so be it.

10. THEY ARE LONELY.

lonely

WHAT THEY SAY

I’m OK – just really busy with the ministry.

WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY

Having neglected my relationship with God, and given up on people entirely, I’m left with just me. I hate it. I want to quit. I have dreams about what my life would be like if I went back to my old home town, to my old church, and my old friends. I could get a normal job earning a salary – with healthcare and paid vacation. I could shop and eat at normal places. Most of all, I could have normal relationships. But here? I’m all alone. I don’t know if there’s anyone like me here, and I know no one back home understands. I want to feel wanted, invited, and loved. I want someone to pour into me the way I’m pouring into others.


Adam is a pastor, blogger, and writer, as well as a husband, and father of two who recently relocated to Nakuru, Kenya to launch a new church community. For more information about this new endeavor, visit www.trinitykenya.com.

Adam is also the author of The Every Day Bible, a series of devotionals based on daily bible readings. You can find the complete series on Amazon.

150 responses to 10 Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You

  1. Jennifer Johnson

    I have been a missionary in Kenya for a little over two years. It is so comforting to know other folks have the same thoughts and feelings as I. In fact, in every item on the list, I felt as though you were reading my mind! Most often I find myself not expressing my true feelings because I feel ashamed-especially when I feel out of touch with God and I’m not, shall we say, working and behaving in His “good graces”. Thank you again for sharing. Be blessed!
    -Jennifer Johnson

    • Emh2072

      I was called to be a missionary when I was 12. I’m 15 now and I know that’s what God wants me to do. I am excited to go and help people know Jesus, but I’m also nervous about the business/social aspect of being a missionary. Any suggestions or advice ?

      • Adam Mosley – Author

        Be encouraged. What God has called you to, he will equip you for. Remember that this list is just one side of the coin. These are the things missionaries never talk about, but there are a lot of positives, both personally and for the Kingdom of God, which aren’t mentioned here (because those are the things missionaries like to talk about).

        On top of that, I would say learn from this list. Approach any missions opportunity with a realistic perspective. Try to prepare yourself for some of the things you read here. Most of what is listed here can be avoided or lessened if you prepare in advance. Talk with other missionaries – those who have done it a long time, and those who are brand new – and soak up what they’ve learned along the way. If you start now, you can do some of the difficult work of missions before you ever leave home.

        May the God who loves the world equip you to do the same! The best is yet to come.

  2. Rob

    12 years in Asia. Agree with every single one of these. You couldn’t have made a better list.

  3. John

    I have been a missionary for seven years. We have had a devastatingly hard year. We are on furlough and this has been the first time the lure of a easy “normal” life has been tempting. I actually cried reading this and it actually was a deep breath and like Jennifer found relief in realizing these thoughts are shared by others.

    • Darren

      John, was reading through all the comments on a post, (10 things missionaries don’t say) and saw yours. It stuck out somehow to me. I’ll lift you up to the Father in prayer … Seems weird to say this to a complete stranger, but if you need a brother, I’m here.

    • Edwin

      Yes there is. Give and encourage other people to give. I’m not just saying money but time, care and effort. I’ve been in missions for 10 years now. Agree to every one of those points. Support from home, friends and church are the most important foundation every missionary needs.

  4. Shonali

    I grew up as a missionary kid in India and I can say that every one of these points is TRUE. I couldn’t agree more! People need to wake up to the reality that being on the mission field is often like being on a battlefield. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Simon Sham

    If you are good in English and Chinese, please translate this “very true” message into Chinese.

    • Yvonne

      Hi Simon,

      I’m not sure if I can do this well, but I’m interested to help translate this to bless the Chinese community.

      Maybe you can leave me your email and I will send it to you when I’m done? :)

  6. Tece

    I’ve been a missionary for 26 years and agree with about half of this article. I find it extremely negative and in my missionary career I’ve found it to be extremely positive, even living in a country that has the highest homicide rate in the world. Yes, it’s hard, but please don’t forget all the positives. If you have children (which is not mentioned in the article) they are receiving invaluable experiences.

    • I appreciate the article as well as one that points out some of the not so great stuff you encounter as a full time missionary. But I think it focuses on the negative and you lose the absolute joy there is in serving God in the way He has asked. Is it hard sometimes… you bet. But our Lord never said it would be easy. He did say he would be with us all the time. Although I have not been doing this 26 years, if you focus on the positive and not on yourself and your needs, it is a lot easier.

      • Kyle

        Thanks Susan, You are so right. This write up says a lot of what we feel at times and some of that really needs to be said. But as you said there is a lot of joy serving in the field. At times I am guilty of focusing on the problems I face with a new culture and new language but other times I am so thankful to have the chance to be used by God I could bust. I have only been on the field two years so its all new and all so challenging. My hat is off to you and others like you who have held the torch for so long. Thanks for your service and my God bless you with many more years, good years, of service, Your Brother in Christ, Kyle

  7. Yes, this.
    Thank you, a great read as we prepare to hit the field running for our first long term stint (2 years) in Malawi

  8. NTMBrasilMK8898

    These are great! I lived in brasil South America for ten years as an MK my dad grew up there as an MK too and now my parents are in Africa serving. My sis n I are married and have families of our own now but our awesome upbringing has never left us. My lil bro will be joining my parents for a few months at the end of the year.

  9. We are missionaries in the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador and have experienced of these to one degree or another. Recently, I wrote this very short piece called, “24 Things World Christians Wish North American Short-Term Missionaries Would Quit Doing…” You can read that here:

    http://wp.me/p1JPJU-1Qf

    What’s unique about that article is that the critique originates from indigenous people, people who have experienced the blessing and sometimes damaging effect of Missionary hosted missions.

    That said, mission growth is not linear and vertical. It is multi-dimensional and cyclical. It spreads out from the center like the ripples of rain drops on a lake. It has depth, breadth, and flow for both missionary and mission.

    By modern benchmarks, Antioch might have been the most successful New Testament Church. God called them to separate out their best for Mission (Acts 13:2 ) So much more I could say here but I’ll conclude with:

    THANK YOU!

  10. How true. Thanks for letting us missionaries reveal what is really happening with us.

    I would add a few other things we don’t usually say or write:
    • Why haven’t I heard from the missionary support group in the US for four months?
    • You have a great idea for a project but do you realize how much time and money this would entail?
    • When you make a decision about whether or not to come, based on your security concerns, why do you just look at the US State Department warning and not ask for the opinion of people on the ground?

    A few times I have been rather forthright with people – usually in person.

    Once someone wanted to start buying coffee from farmers to help them get a better price. I talked with him for over an hour talking about our parish’s emphasis on people working together as well as the need to provide the farmers with what they need to provide a high quality coffee.

    But then there have been the surprises: a church administrator who almost always shares my reports with the wider parish.

    – a lay missionary for seven years with the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras.

    • ML

      I thought I was the only one! I never imagined others were experiencing the same. Serving while living with #9 is the hardest part of what I do.

  11. Mia

    4 years in a small former Soviet country… And you’re on right on! These are things I want to say but feel if I did I would be told that I was complaining!

    It’s so nice to know that there are others that understand us!

  12. a fellow missionary

    Thank you for writing this. As a missionary for over 10 yrs I so agree all of these. Some of them, I could not have articulated better myself. I only wish I could share this with everyone I know but of course feel like I can not because supporters would not understand or would be offended. So thank you for sharing so straight forward what many of us missionaries are thinking, feeling and experiencing.

  13. Mary

    I am a retired Missionary and after spending time in Asia for several years experienced all of these to some extent. But I have mixed feeling about the article. If I didn’t have time for God on the field then something else had to go! You simply can not be effective in bring others to know Jesus when you are not walking with Him. Money and how it is used is a big issue. I always wanted to be accountable to those who supported me. So let me encourage you who are serving-a vacation is not a luxury but a need. Buying a boat for frequent trips to the beach is a luxury…lol. Enjoy living for God and following His call in the good times and the bad! He will hold you up!

  14. Hubert

    You took my thoughts out and put into words… especially 10…

    God bless you…
    Hubert Chan

  15. I partially agree with this list.

    I went through some tough times as a missionary, but I chose to stay positive in my emails to supporters. I figured they heard enough bad news and had their own struggles to worry about. But I enjoyed writing to them, and found the technology made this easier as time went on.

    I had to raise support for most of my time on the mission field and I hated it (wasn’t very good at it, either).

    There can issues with loneliness and trust, and this is made more difficult if you are single.

    I never found myself longing to move back to the States, but I’m sure others get homesick for their land of origin.

  16. I have been on the field for more than 20 years. I have felt so many of those feelings, except for the teams. They have been a huge blessing and have helped me to breathe when they come to do my “to do list” that the nationals can’t do. Not to mention they are extra arms to hug and encourage the multitude of girls which I am caring for.

    I may not be fiscally responsible in saying this, but so far God has supplied everything I have need of. We even had the president of the country come to our local aldea and give us something that we just wanted, which was a flat screen for our Friday movie night. God showed me years ago not to lean or depend on men for our finances. Just when I knew that someone was going to send money, they would not and somebody from Alabama that I never met would send a check, or a retired couple with a fixed income would bless us financially. It doesn’t matter how flashy the website, or how emotional stimulating the newsletter, God provides. I have been young and now I am old..er and God has not had me begging for anything. He is faithful.

    My deal is with the devotions is that I refuse to come out until I have time with the Word, and even if it is hurried sometimes, or in an emergency non existant, God knows my heart. He can multiply my hours when I am with Him in the morning and my day is a nightmare when I am not. I guess being around for as long as I have here, I have seen the difference in my days going well, and not being to productive with massive struggle to push an elephant up the hill.

    I have my trust issues, but not with God. He is the only one you can truly trust and rely on. If someone wants to come to help, I just say “God if they need to let them come, if not keep them away”. Even after that I have experienced heartbreak with other folks, but I have also experienced lessons on forgiveness, that I needed and couldn’t have experienced without the feeling of betrayal. I have also seen relationships restored, and so the circle is complete.

    Since I have been here for a while, and after you boil everything down, I can tell you all of it is worth it. I would enjoy being home for a few days and after that I am bored out of my mind. I would rather be here serving Him in one of my crazier days, than being at home trying to find the next new thing to make me happy. He knows my frame and He knows yours too. He is faithful. He didn’t call us to be successful missionaries, He just calls us to be obedient through it all. Blessings. pd

    • Donna Jeanne

      This is a beautiful response! thank you! the article is well-written, but may have been written on a tough day/week/year. We had those, but also wonderful ones where many of the list items were
      POSITIVE..

      It is OK to share honestly, but we also need balance…

      Praying for all of you!

  17. globetrotter

    Having served in missions for 30+ years, I’ve seen and/or lived all ten of these in some measure. There is no easy way to balance the tension between reality and transparency for missionaries. I admire your effort to bring the disparities to light, but most Ms I know (myself included) are reluctant to do this. The consequences to our support base and even the disdain of some colleagues and leaders to this level of honesty are problematic. This is especially so in today’s world of social media which seeks to reduce complex challenges to a few characters or clever quotes.

    • Globetrotter, I so appreciate your reply; thank you. My husband and I have been on the field in pioneer missions for 30+ years, and he is also an MK. Some of the items on Adam’s list made us laugh outright because they are so true, and though the thought of passing the article link on to our supporters crossed my mind, in the end I probably never will precisely because of your comment regarding consequences and disdain. Thanks for being so articulate, both to you and to Adam.

      • Adam Mosley – Author

        You might be interested in picking up the new book, Missions Unmasked, which is, I think, a more eloquently articulated and expanded approach to some of these issues. You can find it at Amazon. Here is the link, http://amzn.to/1cSc7t8

  18. Guillermo

    Wow! Just 2 years and a half. One and a half year lining up ministries. Sometimes feeling as dry that I think Gods not there! But people back home wouldn’t understand it or worst they don’t. Now I’m getting ready for furlough and to be honest I feel panic and anxiety. It’s weird to think I’m going home but feeling I’m actually leaving home…

    Thanks for sharing this…

  19. Marion Baldwin

    I agree with MOST of this article, but my husband and I have rarely neglected our personal time with the Lord, feeling that it is absolutely vital, and I really wonder if most other missionaries are.

  20. Missionary mom.

    Wow, that was excellent. I dont find it negative, I think it is honest and Im glad someone said it. I absolutely LOVE walking in the calling God has set before us, and I am extremely positive with what is going on on the field. It is stuff/people back ‘home’ that give the need to write things like this. We personally have children and although I keep telling myself they are receiving an invaluable experience but it is a challenge for them as well. When they have to do without because God is their dad’s employer and other people that have dad’s with ‘normal’ jobs get things like a vacation or (that we havent had in 13 years) or a bike. Just trying to stay balanced help them stay focused on Him in the long term. Bless you for writing this.

  21. 7 years in Tanzania. Pretty accurate although we actually look forward to our short term teams. But most everything else is spot on.

  22. Joanna

    I also cried reading this. My husband is from India and I’m American and we are in the mission field here in India. I often feel lonely, out of touch, discouraged, and run to God with thoughts like, “Did we REALLY hear you God when you called us here?” Thanks for writing out plainly what we all are going through. I hope also this doesn’t just get “likes” but it stirs people to be actively involved in the mission in any capacity. I know I get blessed a lot just by a few sentences in an email saying you are doing good work! God Bless you in your work – keep it up no matter what!!

  23. Harry

    after 13 years in Latvia, I have to say that like these fellow workers the list is so true. in many ways. but I have learnt to roll with the hard times and cry out in the bad. When the Lord calls , you say yes Lord, That means to everything and you have no idea what, BUT!! he is always with you. Thanks for the List and for all the comments, I know that they will encourage so many disillusioned missionary’s around this world. God Bless you all and forks Pray for each other, I do! that helps even though sometimes I fall asleep praying.

  24. Lynn

    I so appreciate the challenges that folks overseas face. As a full-time ministry person in the North American context, raising support, I found a lot of this resonated.

  25. Wow. Thank you for this. I spent the last year serving overseas, and struggled/ am struggling with many of these things. I am praying about the next step in my missionary life, as in where to go next, and it is so encouraging to know that other people feel the same. It’s not just me. Thank you again, and God bless you!

  26. This list is so spot on. We’ve felt/experienced nearly every one of these so far in the 4 years that we’ve been involved in full time missions. Now if only every believer back “home” would not only read but internalize these points and DO something about it. There is just so much that can be said here as followup but I’m afraid an entire book would need to be written. Our only consolation is that one gloriously rewarding, truly relieving day we will see Him for Whom we gave and sacrificed – as much as we could. Until then may we scratch and crawl for sometimes seemingly just an inch of light through the darkness. Keep up the great work!

  27. Ej

    You forgot the church that prostitutes your work to raise money in there mission program and you never see a dime. Just a we praying for ya.

  28. Joseph Bennett

    thanks for posting, good to realize my parents are not the only ones that went through things like this, I saw many of these things go on in parents lives as missionaries to Brazil, and they’re still there

  29. Colleen

    Until the last 3 years of over 20 on the field, we did not feel most of this. We are currently in a location others have called provincial. These are truer here and have made writing harder. It was also difficult when our more local leadership ask us to pass everything sent to large groups of people through them. This was done so that things would be put in a positive light, and nothing negative would effect the greater mission or the people in our host country. I had received many encouraging comments about my honesty, and had many tell me that the way I shared my faith in the face of the challenges I faced had really blessed them. I ended up not writing much since then, over 4 years now. I respond mostly to family and those who show some interest. Even now this is an emotional subject for me. I felt a bit rejected. Praise God, He understands and makes us able to face whatever comes as we take everything to the cross, both the successes and the failures, the disappointments and the dreams. He knows what’s best, and uses it all for His glory and for our good. We also grow more in the hard times than in the easy ones. That gives us hope and helps us counsel others who go through tremendous problems. Part of what has changed these last 3 years has been so see many more personal heart-aches up close as we have become head Prs. in an isolated community of more than 25,000. Friends face having children in jail, using drugs, separation, and having to lose their children to the care of the other spouse, a homosexual husband who makes his lifestyle public knowledge … and so much more. Few can handle even hearing about these things. But God is faithful. We count our blessings. God puts songs in our hearts. God surprises us with gifts from those who weeks before wanted to leave the ministry…
    God is good! His love is unfailing. He suffered every pain we have ever faced, and provides the escape.

    God has blessed us financially, and with words of encouragement both from the States, and from local people and those from the local sending church some distance away, to which we return a couple of times a year for area Conferences, and take advantage of visiting friends, making purchases and taking care of medical needs much cheaper than we ever could in the States.

    Local people consider our visits to the States or the local sending church to be vacation. We don’t go out of town for a day like most of them do on a weekly basis. We try to have a couple of hours to watch a movie together once a week, but sometimes things come up to change our schedule. We will have a day to relax with leadership from here after the next Conference. God has allowed me to graciously pick up books given by our home church in the States, or bought while on furlough on some of the roughest days. Always these are exactly what I needed both to go on with faith, as well as to share with those I’m mentoring, who become encouraged with the same encouragement I have received. I feel like Paul and understand him lots more these days than I did before going through …

    Teams are wonderful, but in our current location, almost impossible. The visit from the States costs about $1000. Add to that another $500 to get here and back to the international airport, and most don’t even consider it. My worst difficulty is when they leave. I’ve had such a good time, and break from my normally overly busy schedule, but seeing them go, with the emotional encouragement no longer being constant can give me a set-back emotionally. Sometimes I have shut down for a day or so until I get back to depending on God rather than people. The work of having a team is well worth it. Even if not every promise to write or support is kept, these are people we can count getting encouragement from while on furlough. Just to see them and other friends is a blessing. That’s not counting the hugs, something not everyone does so much here. I’m usually the one who encourages it: for emotional health – not just theirs, but mine. LOL!

    Going home can be a challenge, as is going to our sending church in our host country … no personal transport unless someone lends us a car, or motorcycle. The long hours on the road allow us to read biographies or other inspirational books together. Sleeping on different mattesses every night for a month or more is a challenge. We try also to be interested in what has happened to others since we’ve seen them, 3 years before. Some are divorced. Others have family challenges. All need prayer as much as we do. We don’t want to dominate the conversations, but that can happen, both with what is exciting, and some of the challenges. But the worst are not always spoken. Then when we do, we feel like complainers, or even lacking in faith … Then, to touch on projects, we always have new ones, but know that some of our supporters get requests for funds on a daily basis. We would prefer to have God lay needs on people’s hearts, for them to ask. We then give options and let them choose. The smaller commitments are usually those people prefer to give toward or supply. Even so, we can’t complain about our personal finances. We even use a portion of them for the work, beyond the tithe.

    We try to spend 1 – 2 or more hours daily with God. My husband spends his time in prayer and the Word (10 chapters plus Proverbs usually). I may add inspirational books & worship. We can get distracted with the building project, visits from needy, breakfasts for men and women, or I can even start housework before spending this precious time with God. Yet, even when spending a decent time, it can sometimes feel dry, especially if there are conflict situations that draw attention and I forget for the moment to take them to God.

    We generally trust people, but are finding that most things spoken to those we consider to be confidencial do not stay so. This creates further stress, as people may come back to say something, and what we said with faith for change is not reported in the same way it was said… For these reasons, I tend to feel more lonely than my husband, who doesn’t seem as affected by what others say. That points to another area of need in my life, to have God’s opinion be more important than any other, even though that has been my prayer for years. God has taken it seriously and placed us where we have to depend on Him. Thanks for listening. All things work together for good … May we love Him more than ever before! Blessings!

  30. DILLON RUMBLE

    I want to agree with you guys but the thing that keeps me going is this ITS ABOUT JESUS AND HIS KINGDOM

  31. Valinda McQueen

    I have missionary relatives and they gave this article a glory hallelujah! For the first time in print- someone dared to tell the truth about the real struggles of missionaries. Well said and to the point. American Christians are a little bit clueless about the serious obstacles missionaries face on a daily basis and mostly pat themselves on the back over exorbitantly priced team mission trips that could sometimes support the actual missionaries for weeks or months. Please dont burden your church sponsored missionaries with sight seeing trips for yourselves. The world economy is causing our workers to live on the bare thread of survival…..thanks so much.

  32. I totally love this. thanks, it is completely the truth 100%…

    TO respond to Mr. Dillon Rumble, i hope you can see this, Yes, it’s about Jesus. It it wouln’t be about Jesus I was making my 200k per year. Trust me. I am here on the mission field for 20 years now (10 of which with a family of 5) and I am counting the pennies to make it at the end of the day.

    Why is it like this? I am glad you ask, but I am not sure my answer is correct.

  33. Duro

    Although I generally agree with these statements, it is tough to clump all missionaries into these categories. Number 10 really says it best, “Having neglected my relationship with God…” When the missionary neglects this, might as well go home, as what’s the point of being there if you neglect this?! What do you have to give?

    And number 5: if you choose to not take a vacation that’s your own problem. I have a family on the mission field and they are number 2 (behind God), NOT number 3 or 4. Taking a vacation together (whether that be weekly trips to the beach, river, mall, whatever…) is absolutely necessary for the sanity of everyone, including singles. Doesn’t have to be a full fledged resort stay with airfare (what missionary can afford that anyway?) but a few days away every few months is essential.

  34. I’ve served in The Philippines for the last year (street children/residential) and could have written this myself (except for #6 – I still love teams and visitors coming). This is so incredibly full of truth. It feels good to know I’m normal- ish :) God Bless!

  35. Patricia

    Colleen, how I relate to what you wrote. I appreciated this article even if I didn’t feel one hundred percent the same but I apppreciated some of the comments even more. I am isolated often even from other missionaries by finances and a special needs son. Probably my biggest challenge is a lack of understanding of what it actually takes to raise special needs children. It takes so much more time than raising children without these kinds of needs. Also because of the type of ministry we have. We reach out to the very down and out and poor. Also honesty. Wow that is a big one. I find it heartbreaking that even some of my colleagues only want to hear the positive things! Hard to really have deep friendships that way! God is and has taught me to trust in Him. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I have been on the field twentytwo years. My sending church actually broke up. In the last three years things have changed so that we don’t have a place to go on furlough! God is still faithful and as one of you said, Once I was young and now I am old, but never have I seen the riteous forsaken nor his seed beggnig bread!
    He does always come through. He is the one who asked me to come and so he is the one I expect to carry out His word and He does!

  36. Hi Adam- I am a career missionary of 29 years married to a missionary counselor. Your ten things are right on- thanks – the general Christian public out there does not “get it” and the fact is they can’t. But it seems your list might help them have a glimpse. Good on ya, and thanks. Believe me my husband has seen it all in missions. On the flip side- we like to keep a sense of humor about all we know:) Check out our GMT (good missionary training) on our website that I have sent ya’ll. A little like people of Wal-Mart:) blessings and thx again- shared it on my fb page! and got some likes-ha

  37. I love what I do and I love the people I serve more than I can put into words. But,that being said I go through many struggles. What you wrote Adam is exactly how I feel about many of these issues. It is hard to really express which number I relate to more. They are ALL very, very true to what I go through, am going through and have been through. Thank you and will keep sharing this for a long time to come.

  38. Dixie

    I have had all of these happen during our 26 years on the field, some are chronic and others have lasted for a season…. but usually not all 10 occur at the same time. I appreciate all the comments; they help me realize I’m not the only one who struggles with the challenges of mission life and your comments give me needed encouragement to press on. Through all the hard times God has been and continues to be faithful and merciful. I needed to be reminded of this. Thank you for sharing how He has been there for you too.

    • ML

      I am really struggling with #9. It’s a tough one. I used to be a trusting person but after almost 3 years in Honduras, I really only trust one person here. Sad, but the only safe way I have found to survive and protect my heart. Never imagined people in the church could behave this way. Very disappointed to learn it is common.

      • ML, if you need someone to talk with, I’ve been in Santa Rosa de Copán for more than 7 years.
        There are trust problems – but I also experienced that in ministry in the US.

  39. Sandy

    It is so comforting to know that so many others are going through the same things. I totally agree with all 10 points. There are so many times I have just needed to vent or hear input from other missionaries because I knew that only they could relate but I have only be able to keep all of these things to myself. My biggest struggle has been bringing people from the US and suffering betrayal, usurping authority, and also undoing what has been put in place. It has been a very painful journey of much sweat and tears. Thank you

  40. As a missionary, I’ve experienced all of these.

    But a fellow missionary helped correct my thinking on #3. He said that the key is that you are not asking for money for yourself. You are asking it for the people you are ministering to. That has really helped me.

  41. Rob

    that #6 is ungrateful. I cant believe he would even hint at shunning people who want to serve.

  42. tom

    I’ve been a missionary in Southeast Asia for 34 years. I agree with every statement but have found that my closest friends ARE on the field. They are the only ones who understand the fragmented life we live. No words need to be express between us. There is an unspoken understanding and kinship. The USA on the other hand is a foreign land to me now. Not that my home of Thailand is 100% home. I will never be Thai but nether will I ever again fit into the American mindset. I yearn for a complete home and have come to realise it is a heavenly home I yearn for.

    I hurt when I see how superficial our Western church has become. I work with those who have been imprisoned for their faith and have come to realise how ashamed we should be of our mediocre commitments.

    I find that the war that I must continually wage is against resentment and coveting the resources the West spends on it’s mirages of trinkets that they think they need. So, I must daily remember the source of my strength and supply not being the West but being the Lord. I also must understand and constantly try to accept that since we few who know the truth of real ministry must also accept the responsibility that it is our duty to educate those from home. Wether they heed our words or not isn’t our concern. We tell the truth and God steers the outcome.

    In the end I marvel that with such meagre resources and lack of personal what God accomplishes through our meagre efforts. I again must remember that my commitment to the Lord was TO THE LORD and not the church. It is to Him that I must remain faithful and in Him I must put my complete trust.

    The list of 10 hits my heart. It also is very apparent that it was written by a missionary. Whoever wrote it Thank You!

  43. patricia

    9 years in Asia, every word rings true, Thanks for putting it out there.

  44. Joel Bringas

    Ironic. was just reflecting of my 32 years in mission. thinking what are the challenges that I had encounter and still encountering it. when I read about what you wrote of 10 things missionary would not tell you, is exactly what I had been processing. well thank you for putting words into it. there are so many things that I want to write about about what GOd is doing in the field that Im working with, but the problem is Im not a technical person. I could identify with the #1 on the list. and of course the rest of it. to be honest, In my 32 years of mission work, I only had 2 vacations and which I really enjoyed it. I posted pictures of that vacation and how refreshing it was for me, but then I have people commenting that they are working so hard and send support to me but they themselves could not afford to have a vacation. So they say, good for you! since then I felt guilty of having a time off or vacation for myself. the other thing is, you cannot just tell them about your personal struggle and the negative things that you go through. its almost like a taboo to do so. its somehow expected that we have a grip of every problem and be on top of it. oh well so many things to say but I appreciate you guys writing this. kudos!!!!

  45. Luke

    Two weeks ago permanently ended our service as missionaries after 6 years with many of the items on this list contributing to our reasoning. Currently feeling very disillusioned with missions and even the church. Odd how it creeps up on you. Just a year or two ago I would have told you we were planning on being career missionaries. I’m left scratching my head a bit. All of these are very valid points.

  46. Jemuel

    I wanna be a missionary and that’s my passion and prayer to God..
    I can’t help but I cried when I read this.

    So, I pray to God that He will train me, prepare me for this great, great and tremendous ministry, By His grace.

    Thanks for sharing.
    May the Lord bless you and keep you.

  47. Peter kungu

    I am an African final year Medical student considering Medical missionary opportunities and this article speaks volumes about the challenges of what awaits me out there……… Thank you for sharing.

  48. Menashe

    Just goes to show how low down and sneaky these missionaries are and how they need to get a real life/ job. There is no business like the me$$ianic bu$$ine$$.

  49. So much truth here. On home leave after our first four-year stint in Bolivia. Weirdly encouraging to know we’re not alone. See our blog for more writings on missionary life (albeit, bearing #4 very much in mind!).

  50. Erna

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this! Now I understand even better why you people are meant to ‘shine like …the stars for ever and ever.’ I pray that I’llg grow in my ability to read between the lines, and to persevere and grow in my ‘doing without’ in order to support people. May He be your life, and our life as home partners. I pray that He will provide rest when needed, and, yes, all other needs He knows about. Love, especially.

  51. Kathy Wright

    Very well written and so much truth. I’ve been on the field for around 13 years now and this article is encouraging. It is good to let others know how we are feeling, but it is so hard to describe it because we live such different lives. Thanks for writing this.

  52. Jeff

    I do agree with many of the things written, in the article and the comments section. Just got back from our first vacation on this term after being in country for 48 consecutive weeks. I understand the need to take a vacation, but we are limited by where we can go and truly be on vacation. How have others dealt with this? We do not have resorts or places where you can really get away. Thank you for your insights.

  53. sequoia

    What I want to say will be looked at as though I’m judging missionaries, but I’m not. I feel for them because I too, was a missionary kid at one time. I still consider myself a missionary in the states. I’m just in home. Not outside of the borders.

    My encouragement to all of this is to be honest and say how you really feel about finances. How it’s’ tough to raise finances. If you need a vacation to take one. If you feel lonely, try and seek commuity. Don’t forget you have chosen this path. Yes, God may have lead you there, but you have decided to go too. It goes hand in hand. Is it hard work. You betcha! I looked at all of these but it didn’t look as though the “missionary” is saying what they are actually feeling. I think you say what you are feeling, even if someone is snarky. Your supporters need to know how hard it is to do all of it. We have been taught somewhere along the way to not say how we actually feel. Perhaps we were taught it’s not spiritual to say how we are really feeling. It doesn’t have to be said in anger. But we can say it truthfully and lovingly. Then our community, supporters can know how to really pray and finance, and everything else. They need to know.

  54. Dave

    If Menashe is talking about Benny Hinn and his ilk, I agree with him. But none of the missionaries this article is talking about are getting rich. Just the opposite is true.

  55. Mrs. Jones

    Mr. Menashe, you deny Jesus Christ in your blogs. You have no business commenting on something you know absolutely nothing about. Do you welcome Christians to comment on your blogs, explaining how you wrong you are?

  56. As the directory of a Pregnancy Center – OH BOY – can I relate. Even though my mission field is in rural Ohio – it still fits. We hear Phil. 4:13 all the time “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Wish people would keep reading….Phil 4:14 “Still, you do well by sharing with me in my hardship.”

    Thanks for sharing – helps to know others have the same struggles.

  57. While many missionaries will not identify with everything on this list, most will be able to relate to some portion to some degree. That’s why we founded Paracletos. The important issue, from our perspective, is how do we as missionary supporters come along side them to eliminate these potential sources of burnout and bail out.

  58. Bob

    I’m not a missionary at all and I feel these exact 10 things too.

    Maybe it’s because I’m an “introvert” or whatever you want to call it but I don’t see this list of things as only missionaries experience it (okay obviously the hosting teams one is somewhat exclusive).

    Anyways…

  59. John

    You have really nailed it with these comments. Having served as a missionary since 1988 on three continents and lived with every one of those ten issues I applaud you for your research and for making this public. Great stuff!

  60. Tom

    Jesus never promised it would be easy.
    Some of us are ‘missionaries’ but we don’t move far from our offices and families – we might not have a ‘label’…
    I personally don’t think it’s any harder for someone who is ‘out in Africa’ or for someone ‘staying at home’ – what makes it hard is following Jesus.
    I think the Western Church has a lot to answer for – we should train Churches from a young age that persecution and hardship is a PROMISE for every follow of Christ…at present it seems we are more interested in proclaiming a comfortable gospel?

    So, I would say the more of the above you are experiencing, the greater the blessings on your life!

    Be encouraged. Press in and find joy amidst the pain.

    Cheers all!
    Tom

  61. Laura Norleen

    Great truth of what we all have done or felt as missionaries and enlighten, recognizing that being a missionary and raising funds is a job … And that requires healthy balanced lifestyle and self care on what could and is a 24 hour job! Serving on both sides as missionary and donor, I advocate more for understanding and encouragement of needing vacations/ family time and yes being honest about feelings/$ needed. Building a community of real support is also important and one of the harder relationships for missionaries to take time to build in self care when others always feel more important and have greater needs. I try to advocate these connections with both donors and those in the field to bring greater understanding to the pressures both parties are facing… Then God can also move more freely! But remember He still moves! Continue to press on and build understanding In how to support one another in all areas so we can work better together and see changes in this world in Gods kingdom!

  62. Meredith DeVoe

    8 years in Nigeria. I’m been here and can relate, but it can be better. There are downs, but there are also ups! Hang in there!! (and totally ignore comments like #59 Menashe!)

  63. Alfred

    There is another list for those who are assigned in their home country which includes the attitude that you don’t need support because you are not overseas.

  64. Chantal

    Thank you for writing this. Everything i felt, but never had the words to say. Bless you

  65. James Deuel

    I was on administrative foreign service in Brasil. I guess you could call me a ‘missionary’ although I lived in a fairly nice house in the largest city in the world, Sao Paulo. One thing that was not mentioned in the article (I have read some, but not all, of the comments, so this may have been said) is that when you send items, the cost to get them through customs is often more than the value of the gifts, if we were to buy them locally. Please, if you intend to send things to missionaries, do some research of the cost of customs where you want to send them, and just send the money!

  66. Jimmy

    Thank you for writing this. My wife and I are missionaries in Costa Rica and as many others here have shared, it’s a breath of fresh air to know others are feeling the same things we are. It’s a sad sign how out of touch the Church is with the reality of missions

  67. Jodi

    Serving in the Middle East, three years. While I can relate to aspects of each of these as a whole I feel that it paints an incomplete picture of “worker” life. There’s a whole lot of pain and feelings of isolation but there is great beauty and The Lord Himself ministers to us aliens and exiles in a unique way that makes it all worth it.

  68. Jim Jackson

    Spot On! Yes, #9 couldn’t be more true. #10 makes me really feel like leaving even more.

    After spending 4yrs in India a third world country, I’ve reached an all time high in disquist for a lack of hygiene and personal space. I know for sure I need to up my God time.

    This is no job you just take to go on a vacation. Learning a 2nd and 3rd language is humiliating and tough. In my first yr I had 11 stomach infections! Don’t drink the water!

    Now I know for sure it’s God’s Grace what’s been sustaining me all along!

    Praying for you missionaries who sacrifice everything for His Glory.

  69. Dana Banderet

    Amazing article. I was reading it and just nodding yes, yes yes! Everything I want to say to others but don’t. Thanks for sharing and letting me know I am not crazy. I am just a missionary.

  70. B. A.

    I was intrigued by your list, as this overseas life has been our life for 15 years now. I found a few of the list items a bit negative, but refreshing in its honesty. People normally say, “Oh GREAT!!!! You’re getting some refreshment!!!” when we say we spend money on vacation or family time.
    We just shake our heads and laugh– at the occasional snotty remark–because people have no clue what we’ve withstood & gone through on the field. But we have to stay positive in our communications & truthful in showing our hearts, even when it’s so risky, and there’s so much pain attached. It is hard to speak of sacrifice. The great thing is that Jesus is so close to us–as we serve Him, He NEVER disappoints or fails us.

  71. Dana Banderet

    Even though so much of this has been my experience, especially my first year in Honduras, I also know God has been with me through it all and has given me so much more insight than I have ever had. A lot of my experience was very painful but a lot more was awesome as God showed me His grace to do it all. God has a plan for every one of us and through it all He never leaves us or forsakes us. Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you.
    God bless missionaries all around the world and all that God has you doing. He uses you as a light and a minister of flame to bring many more souls into the Kingdom and also to glorify His name and His son Jesus!

  72. Maddie

    I used to have a small ministry called ‘For the love of Missionairies’. I used to teach how to prepare missionairies for the field but more importantly, in my experience, what to do with them when they returned home. I heard from missionairies from around the world, and the single biggest complaint after lonliness was that there was no use for them in their home churches once they returned from the field – they just became another bump-on-the-log in spite of having significant experience to contribute to the pastoral team. They often felt twice as lonely at home as in the field. If you really want to honor your missionary, whether on furlough or as a returnee to the congregation, include them, use them – God is sending you someone with experiences you don’t have.

    As for finances – as for finances – as for finances . . . give to missionairies as you would give to the Lord – “hilariously”. You are robbing yourselves of blessings when you keep the strongbox locked. Is anything inanimate worth the cost of a soul? A workman is worthy of his hire.

    Blessings & Shalom

  73. Paulette

    I am a missionary, been on the field in various countries of Africa for 26 years. I love the people and the country. I know the call of God is what keeps me. Following God and not man. Listening to what God wants us to do it so rewarding. Some of what is mention is true. I would say the most important thing of the day is knowing you are in touch with HIM, our Maker, knowing what He wants you to do. When God calls He always supplies. He is never late, nor is He ever disappointing. My life is richer, my children’s lives are richer because of various cultures, “For I have seen the vision and for self I cannot live until my all I give.”
    I wish I could encourage these young missionaries that are struggling. I would say keep your eyes on Jesus, listen to His calling, depend on HIM, get into His Word, spend lots of time in prayer. Be bless.

  74. Lisa Frey

    This blog seems to be going around the world rather quickly so I wanted to get myself on the list. Missionary to Kosovo for 10 years and I can relate to every point. Thanks for your honesty.

  75. Don

    A very thought provoking list and it is hard to keep life in ten sentences. The comments are every bit as revealing as the list. It is a good thing you cut it at ten or we would be here all day.

    From my own perspective, I have been involved in missions for 63 years-first as an MK and I used to not be able to spell Missionary-now I are one, as some have indicated it all starts with your relationship with our Lord. Pushing elephants up hill will never work without spending time with their Creator.

    The Lord sent out first the 11 to “make Disciples”, I do not read much else that He wants us to do other than just live life, this world is not our home, I live the same here as there till we go to heaven. Did you get your first spiritual instruction/development from someone who discipled you one on one, or from the shotgun approach? If it was in a crowd then you will miss it when you get away from it. No one in that crowd will know how to “handle” your new self when you return. Will you work with one person in your mission country and leave a Disciple or will you build a church building full of people who do not have a clue who God really is, yet go through all the motions just like the folks you left back home. At least you have “Gone” into all the world.

    Jesus and Nemo have something in common, they left the splendors of heaven and then got trapped in a fish bowl, later it was reversed- both after setting the captives free. You and I (well not so much me) so then You have left the fish bowl and gone out into the world, you will never be the same again and no one back “home” will be able to relate to your new perspective. This time warp will never be resolved till the Lord comes back and takes His own to heaven.

    I have never found Father to shirk on one of His promises, He said “you tithe to Me and I will take care of your needs”, If I can ever get that one straight I might do better. Do you have low income, how much do you give away? Do you find it hard to trust others, how much do you trust Father? This goes hand in hand with how much you give away and in tithe. Get ready to make the Lord famous when He provides for you. That is what it is all about, we are in this life on this planet not for us to be here in this life on this planet but to make our Father famous, “baptizing them in the NAME of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

  76. Joan Hamilton

    I found this interesting but rather disappointing.We were missionaries in S.America for 48 year,and enjoyed it so much!Yes there were hard times but Gods Presence and blessing far outweighed it all.Our purpose was to share the marvellous news of the gospel.! Seeing people come into a personal relationship with Jesus and living a life that glorified Him.! Sometimes I feel that we loose that vision ! Missionaries go primarily to serve,not to look for their own comfort or personal accomplishment.We go as representatives of Christ ,to live as He showed us to live! We are fulfilled as we see Christ portrayed in the people we are working with!

  77. Marie Krum

    I tried to e-mail this to myself to keep for a reference when I correspond with missionaries since it confirms some of my greatest concerns. I was not able to forward the message. How might I do that please?

  78. LeRoy Curtis

    What a great article! People have so many mistaken certainties about missionaries and the life they live. That led my my wife and me to write a book about our experiences in our eight years of mission work in rural Kenya. Out of It in Africa: Dispatches from Clueless Missionaries poke fun at ourselves and attempts to help new missionaries and their potential supporters to understand the realities of laying your live down in ministry abroad.

  79. As missionaries in Kenya, we and our fellow missionaries experienced many of these challenges. The ministry we are now building in northeastern NC, The Haven Missionary Care Center, is being established for the purpose of providing a place for missionaries to find physical rest, spiritual renewal, and emotional refreshment while they are on furlough. Our motto: A Refreshed Missionary is an Effective Missionary. Check us out on FB as well as our website.

  80. As a former missionary, who had a very difficult yet very fulfilling several years on the field, I would have to say I disagree with most of this points. I would agree with 2, 5, and 10, but not any of the others. EVERYONE is entitled to their own opinion based on their experiences, but I feel my family had a very normal missionary experience, and these points were not true in our experience at all, and feel your post makes missionaries look bad! But that is my opinion and don’t feel I am more right than anyone else! It breaks my heart reading this post and reading the comments. I had some really difficult days and weeks on the field, but found joy thru suffering and thru obedience to Him. Many things mentioned in this post I would very much do again! Such as host groups, inform our supporters of what God was doing in our ministry GOOD AND BAD, I needed God more than ever before, and yes it was lonely, and therefore made us more dependent on God thru the difficult times, but I would go back in heartbeat if God called me, because I learned so much about my Father. That was my experience, God bless you all!

  81. tom

    I notice that many ex-missionaires who have served the Lord years ago can’t always understand the situation that we find ourselves in today. I noticed one missionary who had served for over forty years who (God bless you for yours service), didn’t seem to fully understand what was felt by missionaries today, or at least that is how I interpreted it.

    I entered service thirty four years ago and found the mission experience exciting and full of opportunity. I would return home to the USA to report and be given adequate time to share the work, its accomplishments and plant vision. There was time given by the church to understand our work AND to ask the hard questions. The desire was that it wasn’t just OUR work as missionaries but we were a part of a team, both missionaries and the churches.

    Today the ground has sifted under the missionaries feet. WE have been told that we would be given five minutes to explain years worth of work. We used to publish our newsletters making every effort to write them as clearly and effectively as we could. Years ago each newsletter cost serious funds. Funding increased after the mailings. Now you generally find that printing newsletters, prayer cards and the like cost serious cash with little if any return. The trend today is lots of photos and a small amount of text. How can people ascertain a ministry without taking the time to READ! I’m sorry but this is excusable and shows a lack of spiritual focus!

    In our case printing a newsletter has proven to be a dead end and waste of serious cash needed for ministry. Our recourse was sending newsletters through the internet and only mailings to those who don’t have access to the internet. This and a website are certainly wonderful tools of our day.

    The fact is we DON’T live in the same age. The old paradigms have shifted and many come back feeling forsaken and bewildered. We now live in an age where short term teams basically rule. Huge amounts of funding go to oil the gears of the short-term machinery often times neglecting the fact that short term teams, without long term missionary assistance, will produce short term good effects and far too often long term bad effects not to mention the huge time allotment we need to give to hosting teams. Don’t get me wrong, I love teams coming IF they have the correct focus and recognise that the long termer MUST direct methods and means to insure a lasting good result.

    We have been accused of begging for money by Mr. Menashe. The fact is I too hate trying to raise funds. Mr. Menashe seems to think we need a real job. Sorry my friend but our mandate for doing what we do is directly from scripture so don’t expect any apology from this missionary. You seem to also be implying that those who do support us are being conned or what? I get payed by one church who reviews my work and evaluates it. We have policies and procedures and a structure for accountability. I have a job thank you and I work extremely hard at it.

    Back to the issue. What is needed is a forum where the churches and missionaries can sweep away the clutter and begin honest dialogue. I believe most churches desire what is best but don’t always know how to accomplish that. An open, honest and loving discussion is needed. A discussion where we make it our objective to improving our commitment to building the Kingdom using methods our Lord provides. The question is if we missionaries can overcome our fear to share what needs to be shared back home.

  82. Hans

    20+ years a missionary. Totally relate to most of them. I’ve been back “home” for two years and still feel the same way.

  83. Wow its great to know there are so many missionaries excited about doing God’s work and bringing salvation to unreached peoples groups! I would love to form some kind of worship meetings once a week with missionaries in our area in Bali. We have an awesome support system with a world class facility, well accually a Chinese christian family owns the resort and events center and they are supplying us with food, cakes, cookies ect once a week and we come in fill up, link up, worship freely, like free style harp and bowl. This has helped my wife and I get filled up with fire to go out to the islands and Java. Hit me up if you would like to fill up with us. It really has been a life saver for us.

  84. MissionaryLifeWasTheBestAndWorst

    What I have to say:
    wow. wow. wow. dead on! praise God!

    What I’m thinking:
    about freeking time somebody posted this. missionary life is the most wonderful, freeing, lifegiving, misunderstood, traumatic, and draining experience I’ve ever had. maybe now someone will understand. I hope everyone I know reads this.

  85. Adam Mosley – Author

    Thank you Susan (and others) for commenting on the joy of being a missionary. Yes, there is a lot of joy in the journey. This post doesn’t address those things because, frankly, missionaries are great at telling that part of their story. My hope was to highlight some of the things often left unsaid. Peace and blessings to all of you who have taken the huge leap into cross-cultural ministry!

    • Thanks for sharing Adam. I wrote some time back because I agree with what you posted. I also have great joy in serving but I have also had to reflect on the burden and how it often isn’t equally shared. I agree with Susan in many ways but I have also seen more missionaries “fold” under the pressure. As I’ve said for years, it isn’t hard work that is the problem but the things that make work hard. Your title hit squarely on the mark. “Things missionaries WON’T tell you.” We don’t feel the liberty to share those inner most thought. Far too often you find that sharing these inner struggles can have serious adverse consequences to you and your ministry.

      I’ve ministered in Thailand for 34 years. I’m also the chairman of the board of a counselling center in Thailand. The counselling center has a tremendous amount of research on the mental health of our missionaries serving in Thailand. The attrition rate for missionaries is extreme and the mental, physical and spiritual health are greatly affected. There is joy in serving but I don’t know of any long term missionary that doesn’t feel lonely and weary.

      I pray your article will provide a catalyst for discussion and bring the heart of missionaries out of the closet.

      Great job,

      Tom Silkwood
      Chiang Mai, Thailand

      • Jan

        As a “baby”, late-blooming, old—er, very short term missionary in Chiang Mai, over the last 3 years, I think of John 15:16, and that some are still following Jesus will to “go”. I pray all of the above will guide me to be more aware of our missionaries and their needs. God’s blessings to you all. Oh ya! You are already blessed because you were chosen!!

  86. John Anderson

    wow, so depressing. so glad I left the mission field 15 years ago. I am surrounded by interesting, engaged, passionate, fun-loving people in my field (medical devices).

  87. 30+ years as a missionary in the Pacific Islands. Thanks for saying whats so hard to say to convey the big picture. Still would not trade this life for anything because its here at the end of myself that I finally rest in the strong arms and care of Jesus, finding Him in the journey. He is truly the Savior. My being here is to add some skin to the touch of Jesus. He remains our Savior each and every day.

  88. Theuns & Karin Engelbrecht

    17 years in Zambia, Africa, we can only agree! Yet, it is in these very very hard places that we discover the deep and abiding presence and reality of Jesus! We press on to the high calling set before us. Thank you for speaking for us!! Theuns & Karin Engelbrecht

  89. Scott

    I have been a missionary for 5 years and man reading this made me feel encouraged. Everyone one of these things are real at times in my life.

  90. Outi mirjami

    Yes its true what you write. But after 25 years of mission work it is also true that our God helps and rescues you from all these difficulties! Very good stuff to read for those who pray for missionaries and is a sponsor. You can find new areas to help. And in spite of all difficulties I still encourage you to be a missionary!

  91. Tom Silkwood

    Despite the problems and challenges of being a missionary, I would not have changed a thing. Where I have become confused in the past is focusing on our relationship to men, the church and not so much the Lord. I am not surprised at the situation. Jesus was misunderstood and went through far more than we could imagine. This is part and parcel of the task we share. I suppose the real issue is seeing our churches loose sight of the real meaning of Kingdom building even while we missionaries can be guilty of embracing fads in the attempt to undergird our ministry’s support. We also can feel that we deserve better support from home. Deserve is a dangerous attitude and can quickly morph into a sinful attitude.

    With all the issues I have experienced as a missionary, it still remains of of the best decision I ever made other than accepting Christ. I doubt that I would have ever understood, at least for me, what real passion and grace is. Indeed the Lord called me to be a missionary so He could build His Kingdom in me.

  92. J

    I saw someone write the word “furlough”. How is that pronounced? I’ve been in “L” for 4 years without the traditional (institutional) “missions board” support, so many people don’t get it. But I know if they lived here, they would. I’ll stop with the pointless rant.

    Thanks for the post.

  93. Sanni

    Thanks a lot! Truly amazing how encouraging these words are to me… even though you focussed mostly on the down sides of being a missionary :-) Life is hard but Jesus is worth it. He never said it would be easy, but worth it all … your article made me cry because it spoke right from my heart. Left my first home when I was 19, now since 11 years in my new home in Asia… one day we will meet in our eternal home and all have a chat :-) I only disagree with feeling far away from the Lord. Even though I am busy as a mom oversees I can feel him always by my side. That is one thing I am really grateful for- knowing Him better because of living like this.

  94. I enjoyed reading this article as it was translated for a christian magazine in Flanders, Belgium.
    I do identify with several points but it´s all to negative for me.
    I´ve been on the misionfield for 30 years now and have experienced an awesome faithfulness of God himself towards me, my brazilian husband and our crosscultural daughters.We lived in Chile and now in Brazil and will persevere even if our homefront lacks experience, faith comprehension and much more. Jesuschrist is the one who called us and He will be faithfull till the end even if we fail. The righteous falls 7 times but 7 times he will raise again and stand. I experienced truly He does not forsake his missionaries.
    He has not promised we would not suffer. We have to go through the difficulties and in the midst of them He shows the way out.
    As western missionaries we have a lot to learn from latin american, african and asian missionaries.
    This year cancer was diagnosed in me and I´m now being cared for in Brazil. He brought me to this place and I didn´t know all this would happen and that here for free I would be cared for. I praise my Lord and surrender my whole being to Him who knows perfectly the right time for everything.
    Be encouraged!

  95. Can I tell you that I have worked with two missions organisations in my adult years. Life was never as tough as it has been in secular work, especially financially. Making ends meet in New Zealand is phenomenally difficult unless you have gone overseas – to earn big bucks. You also don’t get the comradeship of other Christians holding you up in prayer, working as a team with a shared vision or even just the luxury of a staff devotions. Life in this realm is hard…. for many Christians. Let’s hope we are making a difference, whatever market place we have been placed in

  96. Nice article. Missionary life is something that is hard to describe to those who haven’t experienced it. In your article you touched on many points that most people outside a medium or long-term missionary experience would never realize. Well done.

  97. Hi Adam. I’ve been on the mission field in Costa Rica for the last 22 years. I was born in Guatemala and God called my wife and I to this country. Reading this feels like… “thank God I am not the only one who has felt like that”. This reminded me of the words the Apostle James wrote… “other saints are also going through these things”.

    Thanks a lot!

  98. Adam Mosley – Author

    Hello everyone. Now 5 months on, I think it might be time for me to reply to some of these comments. I was intentional about not replying, especially to the few negative comments, because I trust this community to work these things out.

    However, there are a couple of assumptions that I would like to respond to for the sake of clarity:

    1. This post doesn’t represent the complete missionary experience.
    It would be impossible for anyone to write even a series of very thick books that encapsulates every experience of every missionary ever. While I’ve heard from many missionaries that these experiences are very similar to their own, there are others for whom many of these items don’t apply. The nature of anyone’s life is that it is unique. No two are identical. So, while these feelings are common among missionaries, they are not universal. However, if I had to add in all the caveats and variations on the themes presented here, you would have tired of reading long ago.

    2. Yes, this list is mostly about the negatives of missionary life.
    The title of the post is “10 Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You.” I’ve found that most missionaries (indeed, most people) will gladly tell you about the good stuff. That missionary life is fulfilling, with its own unique rewards, and that it should be considered a blessing to be used by God – all of these things are true. They are also things I’ve heard countless people talk about. This is the good stuff. It’s the stuff that keeps you going. My intention was to write about the other stuff…the stuff that is draining, but you don’t feel like you can talk about. I’m glad there are positives to balance this stuff out!

    3. I’m not a burnt out/tired/frustrated missionary.
    I’m a pastor. In fact, when I wrote this post, I was still living in the U.S., having never lived abroad in my life. (I have since moved to Kenya, in part to help support missionaries with pastoral care.) The items in this list represent conversations I’ve had over several years with dozens of missionaries around the world. These are the common themes I heard over and over. I didn’t write the post from a “bad place,” but rather, I wrote it in the spirit of empathy for the missionary community, and a desire to foster healthy conversation about the realities of missionary life.

    4. Some of you proved my point
    This only applies to a few comments, but the hand full of people who have been quick to attack these feelings (some attacked me assuming this was my personal experience) only serve to prove the point I was trying to make. The primary reason missionaries don’t share these things is because they’re afraid they’ll be judge, criticized, and even have their life’s mission called into question. The fact that a blog post by a guy you don’t know could cause you to question my salvation or accuse me of not being called to the mission field is indicative of the very problem I was hoping to highlight. Take a few steps back. Admit that perhaps you don’t know everything about everything. Concede that someone else’s experience, though different from yours, may be just as valid and just as valuable. The hundreds of missionaries I’ve heard from who have experienced these feelings are only the tip of the iceberg. Many thought they were the only ones who felt these things and are now, for the first time, giving themselves permission to have these discussions with their friends, family, and supporters. And while 98% of the comments to this post have been positive, I still approved the negative and condescending ones because I believe in your right to express your opinion, and I think others need to see the kind of thing missionaries have to put up with from those who don’t understand.

    Now…shiny happy puppies and flowers. I love you guys! Keep coming back. There are some fun things coming up that you might be interested in!

  99. Hey. My husband, two small children, and I lived in Tigoni, Kenya for 4 years. We raised our own support, hosted teams, lived through the 2007 post election violence, carjackings and few other traumas that cannot be translated to anyone other than those who have lived them.

    Adam’s words are true and real. Part of our tenuous dance with those who financially supported our mission work was that of being true and real. We found that the more transparent we were, the more criticism we received… and the more money we lost.

    So in that spirit, I took the time to comment here in order to say that I am humbled and impressed by Adam’s willingness to call it like it is.

    Please support his truth in the most loving way possible, fellow readers.

    Grace and Peace – and safari njema, rafiki zangu.

    • Thomas W. Silkwood

      The cost of being a missionary are indeed high but rewarding enough that I thank the Lord for the opportunity of serving. We missionaries don’t often get a chance to “let our hair down,” not that I have much left. I suppose we will always be, in a sense people behind a one-way-glass. We see what others seldom can and often don’t have the tools or experience to understand. In a way that may be in some small way Jesus felt when working with the likes of us. I’ve only been able to be totally open and feel freedom to speak to those who are serving in the trenches as well. Like my father told me long ago, “You will never understand war unless you have been in it.” Still, for me it is all worth it. Blessings, Tom

  100. paul macgregor

    This article and its responses are disgraceful and should be taken down before more unbelievers can read about believers slandering each other ( #9 in particular)
    I suggest you all get jobs if God is not supplying all your needs.
    A self examination might also be in order.

    • Thomas W. Silkwood

      Paul, before you make such uncaring comments maybe you should look a bit closer at the underlining reasons for such comments. Possible you would prefer we all stick our heads in the sand and deny the realities of our problems. They are there if you like it or not.

      I have 3.5 decades doing the work I love as a missionary. The means to keep valid work moving forward has shifted dramatically due to little fault of those on the field. I put in huge amounts of time sharing Christ. No apologies to you or anyone else for that matter.

      Your comments will do nothing to improve the situation and seeing as how you didn’t share anything about your experience I doubt you have much to offer. If you do have something of value I would like to hear it. As it is you have made statements that have prejudiced your views, some of which might of had merit some merit.

      • Paul MacGregor

        I am not a missionary in the sense that I live in a third world country with the financial support of donors. I do own a small restaurant where I’ve been blessed with a unique platform in which to distribute tracts and share the gospel as opportunities arise throughout the day. I have been to third world countries building churches with CWE. I have also sent my daughter on a missions trip to Honduras. I have always paid my own way.
        I hope I meet the standard by which you would consider me qualified to rebuke you and that you have the humility to accept it.

        Please allow me to suggest 10 things a missionary should not have in his heart let alone announce publicly to a watching world.
        1- Laziness
        No time or energy to write a thank you note but you’ll do it for me? …You have received money from many people who work harder than you at minimum wage. You say you are grateful in your labour intensive thank you letter but your heart now reveals you are not.
        2- Arrogance
        A FB like without money attached bothers you?… Neither do all your Likes come from Bill Gates types. Some come from 12 year olds who aspire to be like you one day. Or from pensioners that are maxed out in their giving to other missionaries but just wanted to encourage you. Your heart now reveals that just doesn’t cut it for you
        3 -Greed
        Even when you’re not asking for money you’re thinking about it? …Sounds like you’re obsessed with landing the big check with everyone you meet. Did you know people can see through to your heart without reading about it here ? This could be why it is difficult for you to have genuine friendships. You say you trust God to provide but your heart reveals you trust in your own efforts
        4- Profanity
        You say I might question your salvation if I heard some of the things you’ve said out loud? …can’t imagine what you said but if you think so, it’s likely that I would and perhaps you should too.
        5- Pride
        Afraid of comments like “my donations paid for your vacation ?” Well guess what? it IS their money that sent you on vacation. Why can’t you just say thank you.?
        6- Complacency
        So you don’t really like hosting mission teams?… Sure it’s work but it’s part of being a missionary. Some might very well be mission tourists but they can also be missionaries one day with with your mentoring. I know many who have had their lives changed in a trip. Why not expand your mission field beyond the locals? Don’t just be a tour guide. Be an example.
        7- Spoiled
        Not too keen on flying home? Then don’t. Use the money to like someone on FB.
        8- Spiritually dead
        your spiritual life is almost nonexistent? Perhaps you could squeeze in 15 minutes with God before you do His work.
        9- Disgraceful
        Just looking for strategic partners?…Perhaps the Missionaries who stabbed you in the back, front and sides are just like you, and were also looking for strategic partners. Thats what CEO’s do. You are not a CEO. You are a shepherd looking for sheep.
        10- Slack
        So you want to quit?… No don’t quit. Ask God to forgive you for you’re disgraceful smears and false portrayals of Christians to a watching world and ask Him to renew your heart to be more like Him. Philippians 2:15

        • Tom Silkwood

          Paul,

          Thanks for writing back. I appreciate it when someone will voice their opinions and since you have been candid I will be as well. There are some assumptions that you have made here that aren’t valid and I will address those and why.

          You mentioned that you aren’t a missionary but I would admit that you ARE an evangelist if you are sharing in your place of business. We are all called to do that regardless of our location or occupation. You mentioned that you have been to third world counties to build churches. Good stuff! I won’t speak disparagingly of that. That you have encouraged your children to go and see the world on mission trips to Honduras is also commendable. You mentioned that you paid your own way. Well there is a point of contention.

          Your livelihood is due to people buying your product, thus you nor anyone else is self-made men. We rely on each other. I am no different from any other ministry how has a salary and is expected to do the job and get it done. Good stuff! As far as a rebuke, I don’t take it as such. It is your opinion in the face of a number of other folks on this feed that don’t agree. Fine. That is life for all of us. I will and do consider comments by folks regardless of if I see eye to eye with them or not. Mankind is quite tunnel visioned at best and all of us can easily fall into the attitude that we are right and everyone else is wrong. I suggest we all, for the most part, have a measure of the truth. Listening is good.

          Now for the sake of dialogue lets look a these points together.

          1) Laziness

          This criticism has little merit here. You group ALL missionaries into this category? I have held a number of jobs from videographer to photographer, lithographer and a number of other jobs. I was NEVER accused of being lazy. For you to make this assumption is a stretch. To make it you have to know us ALL and you don’t. Nether do I. It isn’t possible for you to discern if I work harder or less harder than a minimum wage earner. Stereotype that isn’t accurate.

          2) Arrogance

          Again do you know me or anyone else on this feed? I do in fact appreciate funds from all my sponsors and by the way I get a salary from one USA church that comes to evaluate our work. Did you know that I give my offering to my church too? No it isn’t spend on me. God loves a cheerful giver and I like giving myself. Some months is more difficult than others but that is my gift to God. By the way, I give those funds to ministries or individuals OUTSIDE my control and all here in Thailand.

          I have found there are very few Bill Gates that would give to Kingdom work. Fine. I don’t care because large budgets have never made ministry successful. Success has little or nothing to do with money. Money is a provision supplied by God through His church. Not your church, not my church, it is his church. With my background I could have chosen the bucks. Those are not my focus nor the source of happiness nor fulfillment.

          3) Greed

          Again, do you know me? No. Do I know you? Your comments have revealed more than you might realize. Landing the BIG CHECK? See right through me? I beg you not to bunch all missionaries into your stereotypical view. I’m no televangelist and wouldn’t ever want to be. Then again, are all televangelist bad? I can’t say that nor can you. One thing is for sure, you CAN’T see into my heart. We’ve never met, never shared a meal nor spent time praying together. I would be more than willing to pray though.

          4) Profanity

          Profanity? Sorry but I haven’t used any here. The real issue here is the law or grace. Spoken words such as profanity are not the issue here. Grace is. If you feel that you can loose your salvation through a word uttered under stress or frustration you have little idea of the biblical view of grace. I don’t deserve it nor do you. I would suggest your hostility toward those of us who serve at God’s calling is profane. No doubt you are bitter and resentful. We are in the same boat. We are flawed and lacking and in need of His grace.

          5) Pride

          “Their money.” Hold on. I thought they GAVE it to the Lord??? So it is still theirs? When I give my offering it is no longer mine but was given the Lord and those who serve Him. I do take time to make certain those I give it to are accountable. That is my responsibility. Missionaries have the same moral responsibilities as any other Christian. There is in fact no hierarchy in Christ and those who go and those who stay home are of equal value and under the same moral code, God’s word.

          About vacations. I pay my own way thank you. I have a job and get paid for it. I have to save up to even consider a vacation and haven’t had one in a few years now. Again you are dumping all of us in your stereotype and that isn’t fair and reveals, to me, a real level of bitterness. What cause that?

          6) Complacency

          Now I will cut to the bottom line on this. Since when are you the authority on WHO defines my job. My primary task is sharing the message of Christ to a world that doesn’t know Him and often has never heard of Him. That is MY TASK. America, I assume you are from the USA, has thousands of churches, pastors, teachers organizations, books… the list goes on and on and billions of dollars to carry out their programs. Fine. We don’t. We have done, through Christ, amazing things from the scraps that fall from the table. That sounds bad and that isn’t my intention, but the reality. Our ministry works with hundreds of thousands of people on a budget that a single church uses in a year. Instead of being angry about a seeming disparaging amount of funding I am encourage at how the Lord can divide the bread and the fishes.

          Concerning mission teams, I have hosted mission teams and they are often times enjoyable but they take time. Huge amounts of time and I very much doubt you have had the pleasure of organizing one from our end. Many are great and some are a hand full. There are teams that have been unruly and have made cultural messes that have to be cleaned up. They leave a mess and we have to clean it up… if we can. Short term teams are a valid means of ministry but I will put my years up agains anyone’s theory of missions. Long term positive effect generally don’t come from short-term mission efforts. Sorry. Facts bare this out. To be effective those short-term teams MUST be headed by long-term experienced missionaries who can blend the effort to greatest effect.

          We do strive to impart our knowledge to them and often to good effect, but not always. We have had to send some home early. Still the real focus is what our task is about. Is it about giving short-term teams a great experience or is it sharing Christ with the nationals. The latter isn’t a 8 – 5 job. My normal day is 5 AM to 7 PM. I would have never become a missionary if my job were to attend to short-term teams. This is a trend that has taken the church by storm but is often not benign in nature. They are generally good or bad and fortunately most are good.

          7) Spoiled

          Meaning???????????????????????????????????????

          8) Spiritually dead

          Well I would say most missionary’s spiritual life isn’t dead. You mistakenly think this is some gravy job. With a 97% attrition rate it is pretty apparent this isn’t most peoples dream job nor will they ever be rich at it.

          Spiritual health and life with Christ is the ONLY way I can survive out here. I read the Word and pray daily. Lord knows that I need that. My day is full of a host things that I doubt you could imagine and if I didn’t have time to seek the Lord I would be lost in the storm. I will admit that I’m often battered by the storm but not lost. Again your stereotype misses the mark.

          9) Disgraceful

          I would point out that you have done some stabbing yourself on this feed. I won’t apologies to you for saying that. Those are the experiences of some in missions and NOT ALL. I have fantastic co-workers some within and outside of my organization. Great people who I rely on for encouragement and emotional support and no small amount of advise.

          You also don’t recognize that we live in countries not our own and there is stress that you simply can’t imagine. Sorry, but you haven’t been here and a short term trip doesn’t cut it. It is far more than learning a language. It is about how to survive and thrive in a land not your own.

          One last point on this. You said correctly that we are shepherds looking for sheep. True indeed but your comments are not far from being a rod on our backs wether we the blows were due and true or not. I’m not certain that I would want to be one of your sheep. Simply being honest here. I note that you spoke honestly and I greatly respect that. I can little stand folks that live and act like some politician and sift with the direction of the most popular “pop” ideas. I tip my hat that you speak your piece wether I agree or not.

          10) Slack

          Don’t quite? I’m not. My focus is to fulfill the task the Lord has given me. My burden to to find out HOW to carry out that task according to His will and His method. For the most part nobody on the mission field was out to slander anyone, but when we head back home to people who are unwilling to hear our hurts, affirm their love for us we come to feel like orphans. This feed was an attempt to bring what too many, including yourself, fail or possibly refuse to see. The fact is that many of us found that our brothers in arms are for the most part on the mission field and not back in our home countries. We have learned that too many Christians want to hear glowing successes and nothing about our trials. All valid work can’t isn’t quantifiable as far as success.

          Sorry but some of this isn’t a problem of our making. Send them and forget them is too often the procedure. Drop missionaries with valid work with no notice not to mention the nationals who make their living through these organizations. A pink slip to me isn’t just to me but a number of people, nationals who love their people but most of all love their Lord.

          I appreciate commenting on this and hope this exchange is helpful in some way. I don’t often write much as my day is packed as it is. I’m willing to dialog more on this but I will be honest that it can’t be simply a relay of words between us. Honest use of time is important to me. Just being honest.

          May we all come to a greater understanding of “His” grace.

          Blessings,

          Tom

  101. Paul MacGregor

    Tom,
    You’re right i don’t know you. I was not addressing you or anyone in particular but merely responding to the hypothetical missionary in the original article which obviously does not match up to you. its too bad the publicized article impugns your character to those you are working so hard to reach. God bless !

    • Tom Silkwood

      Hi Paul,

      This kind of dialogue is good. Actually I didn’t feel that the article impugns my character. There are some who, like it or not, on the mission field or at home, will not have the character that Christ called them to have. Fortunately, I am a work in progress and have made progress over the years, but I’m far from where I should be. As my mentor once said who was a missionary here from 1921 until his death, “Tom, you are indeed a diamond of a young man, but I might add, a very rough diamond.” I’m no longer a young man, but I have to say amen to that!

      I have also experienced those “workers” who have other agendas. That is part and parcel of real Kingdom work wherever we find it. We will most assuredly find those who sow tares. Our Lord used a brilliant illustration of tares. They look like wheat but simply aren’t and they are of no value except consuming the soil and giving the “hope” of a harvest.

      I would add that our mission force, only speaking of those who highly esteem the Word of God, are hard pressed in our day and age. Often times we want to report on what God is doing but find many who aren’t interested. Some churches may give you only five minutes to share about years of work or no time at all, which is frustrating. We certainly aren’t the “stars” of Kingdom work, but many of us have risked life and limb for the cause of Christ. For us, we hope we find brothers and sisters who will share in our joys and are sympathetic to our tears. For most of us, we desire to go home to our churches and hope they share in the joys of ministry. It is a global task both at home and abroad. OUR HEART IS THAT THE CHURCH IS EXCITED ABOUT KINGDOM WORK WORLDWIDE!

      I do have concerns for my co-workers on the field. I have privy to a great deal of research on the topic of mental, physical and spiritual health of missionaries on the field. The well being of our workers is at an all time low and few missionaries feel the freedom to be candid about it. In fact, some churches will drop you if you are candid, even if it is respectfully candid. Not all mind you. Many are caring and loving churches and there are many; but the trends are not good. Fortunately I have wonderful churches back home and one that supplies my personal salary. This kinds of a church is a godsend!

      I mentioned that I am the chairman of the board of a counseling center located in Asia. (My ministry is in fact Christian media production.) Our director, at the counseling center, was told that his main sponsoring church was dropping him and 13 other long-term missionaries to replace them with new missionaries. He happened to be the director and now has been forced to resign. This simply isn’t right and no opportunity was given to our director to see if other options were available. Long term work in the hands of experienced people is often in jeopardy through these short sighted decisions. God is sovereign and this will, in the end, work out well, but it was needlessly messy and frankly cruel.

      This is one of the leading reasons missionaries are leery of churches wanting to give them 100% of their support. Valid ministries can be destroyed in a quick decision of a committee or a senior pastor decision to shift mission giving to his own personal favorites. This happens often with lasting repercussions.

      What do most of us want? I think we would like to feel that our churches have put their hands to the Lord’s plow for the Kingdom’s sake, both at home and abroad. I don’t want to be alone and in the throws of a storm alone. My heart is to see the church grow throughout the world to the glory of our Lord. Low funding, difficulties and the like may not be easy to overcome and maybe we cannot overcome them much of the time, but if we have the fellowship and love of the saints back home the burden is shared and the love we are called to shines brightest.

      Thanks for writing.

      In Christ,

      Tom

  102. Tom Silkwood

    I’m writing far more than I generally would but this type of dialogue is critical in our day and age.

    Tom

  103. lhakpa Sherpa

    It’s interesting to read this article.iam from Nepal .i agree with lots of good missionary I meet in Nepal but many specially southernern baptist are living a luxurious life in Nepal.they always live in nicest area of city with dogs and at least one Servant if not two.they have car.and most of time they are busy writing mission report which local do but they take full credit .they know where to take poor and hungry pic which most of time has nothing relevant to the mission they are doing.there was one couple who always write report they are working among Sherpa but they don’t even give offering in our Sherpa church and we ask them to leave…so back in America careful in believing what they share..it might not all true

    • Paul MacGregor

      I saw the same hypocrisy in Bolivia. Those who sympathize with the hypothetical missionary and his/her 10 beefs in this article are likely no different.

  104. Eduardo de Oliveira

    Could I translate that into portuguese language? I´m brazilian and in my country I think that the church doesn´t have any idea about what was written here. Me and my wife served in Kyrgyzstan (Central Asia) especially with children victims of human traffic in that country. For lack of funds we had to come to our home country. It was sad, but now everyone is concerned about themselves and the needy isn´t their business.

    • Adam Mosley – Author

      Hello Eduardo, sorry for the delay. We are home in the U.S. right now. Yes, please feel free to translate. Also check out my new book, Missions Unmasked for further discussions of the realities of missionary life.

  105. Arlene A Pendergraft

    My brother has been a missionary for 20 years and says he often struggles with the issue of whether or not to encourage teams of people to come and help or rather ask them to send the amount of money they would spend to get to the mission field. He has determined that, though the money would, of course, be a blessing,most of those who come actually benefit as much as the people they go to help. Basically, they back home with a love for the people they went to help and an ongoing interest in that field and will give money regularly to help because they felt a part of the ministry there whereas they never would have had they not gone and seen firsthand the daily routine and the needs of the missionary.

    • Adam Mosley – Author

      Very true, Arlene! The reality is, most people wouldn’t dream of sending a few thousand dollars (and most churches wouldn’t dream of sending tens of thousands), though they will drop that much on a short-term trip. In my book, I make the very same point you are making. The greatest value of short-term trips is the impact it makes on the individuals in the team. Over time, many short-term trips and teams can make a difference in the focus country, but the immediate impact is not what people think it is (or are sometimes told it will be).

      Still, the majority of long-term workers begin as short-term workers. There is value in these teams, but when we send them, we should always be aware of the challenges faced by those who are hosting these large groups.

  106. Prasad

    A couple of the mentioned points might not apply for my situation like God taking back seat and being lonely but most of the other points surely I could identify with.

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