Recently I met a young woman who is ministering in the same country that I am ministering although in a different region. It was interesting to hear her talk about the people group she lived among, to hear their traditions and lifestyle. This young woman was genuinely full of love for this people who needed to hear the Gospel.
My heart broke for her though, as she shared about her coworkers and the lifestyle she lived and her support system. I could see that she wouldn’t last long. It isn’t that she wasn’t cut out for the work, but it was because she didn’t have a good support system.
In some things she herself had taken shortcuts to “save money”. The huge cost of a sending organization that was established and serving in many parts of the world scared her away. She didn’t want the mission to take a percentage of the funds raised in order to help the home office run. She decided to have her home church support her. But this church had not background as a sending organization. They loved her but didn’t know certain steps and helps that should be given to a missionary. They didn’t require training courses in cross-cultural ministry, they didn’t set a budget that included health insurance and travel funds for furlough, etc… You may agree with her, but I do not. I have seen organizations that take shortcuts, I’ve met missionaries that try to save money by foregoing these things—they don’t last long on the field.
The organization in country that she is working with has issues as well. I know that no organization is perfect, nor can it be! But this organization has not set up standards for new missionaries. They don’t expect language training or mentoring by older missionaries who have been around a while. They don’t hold regular meetings or retreats to support their missionaries. She was put in the bush with little or no training. The other woman she lived with had a few months experience, but no training either. They had not support system, no one to teach them how to set up a solar system or water system. They lived in an extremely small hut with other nationals. They had no privacy, no medical training or resource, no communication for months, etc…
They will not last long. If they had been given time to learn the culture with other missionaries who have lived here for a while, if they had been taught how to set up a home in the bush so that you had some comfort features like solar lights and running water, if they had been give adequate facilities to set up a home where they can feel comfortable, if they had been required to attend language school, if they had regular meetings with the other missionaries, if, if, if…
My heart broke for them as we met. I knew they loved the Lord and the people they had been called to serve amongst, but I saw symptoms of burnout and worse. I pray that they find a more comfortable setting where they can learn and grow and live. Yet, I fear that soon they will say good-bye and return home, burned out and leery of Christian organizations.
I have seen many people live with little or no comforts of home, but they don’t last long – especially women. I have seen others who bring in that comfort of home in little things like pictures and furniture and limited internet so they can communicate with home—they last longer.