|Photo by: mapichai|
My husband and I have been missionaries over thirty years now. We’ve seen many missionaries come and go—some of them gone for good. (Sometimes, of course, there are extenuating circumstances: sickness, needing to care for aging parents, non-adequate financial support, obeying their mission board, and even God leading them to a different field.) Many times, though, the most important determinant of success or failure on the field is the missionary wife.
Many missionary women—including single missionaries, here—are amazingly effective partners in ministry.
Characteristics of successful missionary women:
1. They love God with all of their heart, soul, and being. This is evidenced in their consistent communion with Him through prayer, Bible reading, and Bible study. They are women of the Word.
2. They (if married) have a happy, stable marriage and would follow their husbands to the end of the earth—literally.
3. They have a positive mental outlook. This means they look for the best in the people, country, culture, and surroundings.
4. They are willing to learn and have open minds to other ways of thinking and doing. They are able to adapt to the culture, food, and people around them—and actually enjoy their “different” life.
5. They desire to befriend other women. They look for ways to build “bridges” to the women around them—connections with the native ladies.
6. They actually love the native people and communicate that love.
7. They (if married) view their ministry as a family ministry. They are their husband’s best cheerleader and involve the children along with Mom and Dad in reaching the lost.
8. They are assets, examples, and helpers.
9. They find their personal fulfillment in being part of a team (family, ministry team, church, Christian school).
10. They don’t view personal setbacks as fatal blows (sickness, criticisms, hiccups in the work, persecutions, trials, etc.). They’ve learned to go to the Lord with every disappointment and to find their joy in Him. Their private pity parties don’t last very long.
11. They value simple pleasures: flowers, walking, sunsets, baking a birthday cake, photography, a cup of coffee, smiles, reading a good book. They don’t need things in order to be happy.
12. They have a healthy sense of humor. Laughter has a way of lightening everything. When missionary ladies can laugh at themselves and at their hilarious predicaments, they will survive.
13. They understand that God’s purpose might look different for each person, and they steer away from competing with other missionaries. Long ago, a missionary in a successful missionary team visited our home. We were in the kitchen, and I asked her what it was like to minister in a team. She answered, “We recognize each other’s gifts and try to let each person fulfill the role God designed for him.”
Many women feel inadequate but aren’t. They think they need to be linguists, able to sing, teach, organize, entertain perfectly, play the piano, and all kinds of things. But truly, the women I’ve known who were very effective were simply women who love God and love people. Many ladies with less than fluent language skills can very effectively reach women because they’re real. They make the women around them feel at home, loved, and accepted. The best missionary women are normal, everyday people with big and loving hearts.
What does the Bible have to say about success?
Love God and others. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).
Think about and share the Word of God. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success (Joshua 1:8).
I want that kind of success! How about you?
- Lou Ann Keiser, Basque region, Spain