Monday, October 7, 2013

Missionary Monday ~ How to Support Your Missionary Wives

I get asked this on a weekly basis, "How can we better support you? What is it that you need from us?" I always worry when I answer. I am never sure that I give the right or all-encompassing response. I´m not even sure that my attempt to do so in this blog will be correct. I always worry when I put a blanket statement like the title above. For truly, we are all individuals, and I cannot answer for every missionary wife. And as my experience is limited to my country of service and time here, I am sure something will be left out. So, I am definitely not the most qualified person to answer this. But since it is asked of me… often… and I have this forum, I asked God to help me generally answer on behalf of some of my co-workers around the world, and maybe in some small way help us all knit closer together as the family of God.

1.) Be Interested. I cannot tell you what it means to me when I get an e-mail or message or letter, and I can tell the person has been following our ministry - has read our prayer letter, knows our prayer requests, has checked out our Facebook pages. The fact that someone would take time out of their busy schedule and think of and/or pray for us means the world! Can I be honest? I don´t know how missionaries did it before technology! They were obviously better people than I. Because of distance, there is that immediate disconnect. It can be discouraging if you think no one from home that supports you cares about what you are killing yourself to do in a foreign country. Of course, I can already hear some of the sour responses ¨But, you are doing it for the Lord, not for men. That should be it´s own reward!¨ And you´re right! That´s why most missionaries will stay on the field. The reward is not why we do it, anyway. But the encouragement is a motivation. A reminder that just as this person sees, God sees us, too. We are not forgotten. It´s always a missionary´s fear, that as soon as the missions conference is over, or the next missionary comes to visit, we will be but a distant memory. Make an extra effort to be sure your missionary wife knows you think about her! Every single one of them! Because as soon as your missionary family steps off the plane onto that unfamiliar land, the devil starts telling them they don´t matter. No one cares. What they do will never make a difference. And he whispers those things constantly, especially into the wife´s ear. And each time you send that message, mail that package, make that call, you have helped defeat Satan and encouraged your missionary´s wife to keep going. She is not alone.

2.) Be Patient. I wish I could explain this well in words; but unless you experience it, it is an impossibility, but I will try. Things move at a different speed in foreign countries. I live in a city of 10 million people with Wi-fi (sometimes!) and Starbucks {which most missionary wives don´t!}, and STILL it takes me half the day just to cook my meals for the day. Nearly everything has to be done from scratch… and when I say scratch, I mean like chop the head off the chicken…, we need to wash and sanitize every veggie & fruit, purify/boil water before using, and so many other things that just eat up time. It takes hours to grocery shop. You have to push and shove just to be waited on; you will stand in line just for them to let a grumpy person cut in front of you so they ¨stop making a scene,¨ and carts of bloody meat will crash into your leg at least once a month. Every place has a line that you must wait in, but they can´t tell you why. And just driving somewhere in the horrific traffic is enough to give the sweetest lady severe road rage. Nothing can be easily done. You can´t just run to the corner store, grab a can of soup, and heat it up for dinner. You have to understand that sometimes the ATM will run out of money and they will fill it ¨when they come¨. Which could be an hour or next Tuesday. Everything must always be done in a different language while trying to understand the different mindset. And most missionary wives have to do all of this with children! So add all your pastor´s wife does and put it in these circumstances {and I really didn´t even scratch the surface!}. Maybe now you will understand when she does not answer your e-mail right away. Or why she did not ¨like¨ your church´s FB status, yet. Contrary to a somewhat popular notion, we do not sit on the internet all day. [Yes, I see the irony as I blog that on the internet ;) ]. In my own life, I had someone very upset because they sent me a very nice FB message that it took me awhile to respond to. She told me that the computer said I was on-line. So, she took it to mean I just did not care to answer her. Newsflash! I am ALWAYS signed in, either on my phone or Kindle or somewhere! I never log out ~ and now all the hackers are running to my FB account ~ But, it doesn´t mean I am always sitting there waiting to NOT answer you. OK, personal rant over ;) . But, honestly, We want to answer you. We want to give you an update on everything. We want to send you pictures of the children. We want to send you the list of needs. And we will! Just be patient with us!

3.) Be Kind. Ok, so this should be a no-brainer, right? But I just felt I should include it, because of some of the things I hear. I recently went back to the States, and so many of my amazing friends sent clothes back with me for the Peruvians, and they sent the very best! I was so proud to give them to our people. But we have gotten things in packages for us or to ¨share with the people¨ - threadbare clothes, half-used bottles of shampoo, and all the other things that looked like they had been on their way to the garbage pile and accidentally put in the missionary package. Don´t just give. If you only have a blanket with stains and holes, just throw it away! And instead, pray for the missionary. One of my friends in another country was so excited as she waited for a box of clothes for her kids. She got it and the note said ¨We sent these because your last picture was so pathetic. At least now, maybe your kids will match!¨ Now, this time the clothes were VERY nice and first class, but the words stung! Every time she put those clothes on her children, she felt like a failure as a mother. Every time she heard of someone that had seen that picture, she felt embarrassed and ashamed. Kind of took all the joy out of the package. Kindness goes such a long way! Simply just a kind word… or being kind enough to not share your opinions, especially of her or her family… could make such a difference to your missionary´s wife.

4.) Be Understanding. I know. We are supposed to be super Christians. We are never supposed to have a bad day. We are supposed to have perfect children who love their new culture and don´t miss America at all. We should always look good and not like the dowdy missionary wife. But, we should not look too good because then we must be stealing support money and going on shopping sprees! We are supposed to be able to sing and play at least two musical instruments. We should always have a good attitude about our husband´s never being home. Our prayer letters should always be positive and filled with good news, even though most don´t read them anyway. Complaining is forbidden. Tears are unwelcome. Depression is a sin. ~~ I´m about to tell you a secret now. According to these standards, we fail. We all fail. Every missionary´s wife is no longer allowed to be one, then. And, I know you think I´m exaggerating. And no, not everyone holds us to these, but some do. I have known people who have lost support because their prayer letter had ¨too many needs listed and not enough souls saved¨. Or the pastor who called my friend´s husband because "Your wife seemed to be having a bad week when we visited your work. I don´t think she is cut out for life on the field." Really? I mean, really? We are human. Unfortunately. Trust me ~ We all wish we did not have our failings and shortcomings! Life would be so much easier. But, just try to understand. Be her shoulder to cry on. Let her be homesick. Allow her some ¨prickly¨days. Understand. And with that, maybe try the next one…

5.) Be Her Prayer Warrior! This is the most important one! Her husband and children have a prayer warrior; it is her. The people they serve have a prayer warrior; it´s her. All of their supporting churches have a prayer warrior; it´s her - the missionary wife. But, who prays for her? And not in the ¨dear-God-bless-all-the-missionaries-out-there¨ way, although we will take that, too! But in the ¨I´m going to take this whole week and just pray for her. I will find out her prayer requests. I will pray for miracles. I will even fast a day. I will beg God to bind Satan in her life. I will weep as I ask God to protect her relationships and body. I will be the one who takes her name to God so she can have the wisdom, grace, love, mercy, peace, and strength to get through the day.¨ I know you´re thinking that it sounds pretty intense. And it is. We stand between the living and the dead here. I personally have encountered more spiritual warfare in the last year and a half than I ever have in my previous 30 years combined. The devil has had such a stronghold in all of our countries of service, and you can hear his demons scream and rage as another missionary sets foot on ¨his¨ kingdom. He will unleash all of his venom - every evil, every mind game, every sickness, every sin, every temptation, every hurt he has at his disposal until he can get them to leave. And the devil knows, just like he did in the garden of Eden, that the success of this missionary family hinges on one person… the wife. So, he´ll target her. He always does. That´s why she needs a prayer warrior. I´m begging you for her. Please, fast and pray for your missionary´s wife. It´s the only way she´ll survive.

I hope this helps! I must include that Junior & I are SO blessed to have the BEST supporting churches ever! They are all of these things to me and so much more. I love them, every single one of them. I have just felt Spirit-led to share this with you all. I love all of my missionary wife friends out there, too! Keep going, Ladies! Hang in there. Don´t give up! If you get knocked down, get up again {we all do!}! I have the highest respect for each of you and count you all as a true heroine. If I left the mission field today, it would have been the greatest and most instructive time in my life, and it has made me realize just how AMAZING each of one you ladies are! Can´t wait to get to heaven & see how God honors your behind-the-scenes, selfless, sacrificial lives that you´ve given for Him.

Love ~ Jessica

This is a guest post by Jessica.  She is a missionary's wife serving the Lord in Peru.  You can read more of her writings at her blog - Living Redeemed.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is so good! Well said!
Denise Stokes
Fuengirola, Spain

Joyful said...

Well said. I'm sure all the missionary wives who read this will be pleased you advocated for their needs, and we who pray also are happy. God bless you and your family as you labour in the field.

HollyAnnPhoto said...

Thank you for this post. This is so helpful to me. I'm a pastor's wife and what you wrote is so true. Thank you. May the Lord bless you today, where you are, serving Him.

itavitaafrican said...

I tried to post this on your blog, Jessica, but it didn't work. Just wanted to encourage you that I enjoyed your post! Don't worry about the naysayers! It's hard to know how open to be. No matter how much you say, someone will always think you're complaining or bitter or racist, etc., and if you don't open up, they have no hope of praying for you in an understanding way! I wrote about that dilemma on my blog: http://itavitaafrican.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/to-say-or-not-to-say/
Just wanted to encourage you that you said it just fine!