Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Naked Truth About Deputation: Can You See Through My Eyes?

I want to preface this post by saying, it is my desire to help future missionaries, current deputation missionaries, and those who desire to minister to deputation missionaries. I love keeping things real, but I always try to keep things positive. I have spent the last five weeks being very positive in my "Delightful Deputation" series, but I want to be a little more blunt... a little bolder about some of the realities and difficulties of deputation. I pray that it doesn't come across as harsh, ungrateful, or complaining. Our family has been on the field for a while, and we had a lovely deputation! We did, however face many of the hardships that come with deputation.

I also want to thank the ladies who gave me some insight into the difficulties they have faced or are facing as they travel. Not once did they come across as complaining as they opened up and shared their hearts.

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To the future missionary women/wives/mothers:
I hope this post helps you to prepare. Don't be discouraged. There are difficulties, but there are lots of blessings, too. If you haven't read the Delightful Deputation posts, you should. I just don't want you to go into deputation and be sideswiped by the difficulties you didn't expect. I would rather you go in armed and ready.

To the current deputation missionary women/wife/mother:
If you are facing difficulties and discouragement, reach out for help and counsel. You do not have to wear a super hero cape while on deputation. Seek out veteran missionary women who have been down that road (no pun intended... ok, maybe a little.) You would be surprised at how understanding they will be, as well as how insightful they can be.

To pastors, church members, missions committees and directors, family, and friends:
I pray that this post helps you to see from the perspective of the missionary woman/wife/mother. I know it is your heart's desire to encourage and help missionaries. Sometimes we are just afraid that if we say something, we will come across as ungrateful. We truly are not. We see the effort and sacrifices you make for us. But maybe if we put our heads together, we can come up with solutions to help missionaries and missionary families look back on their deputation as a delightful experience. After all, we want them reaching the field emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually at their peak. They will need it!

Just take a moment with me to see things
through their eyes.

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Can you see through my eyes?
     I am a missionary woman on deputation.
          Can you see beyond the adventure, beyond the smile?
               Can you see when the newness has worn off, all the roads begin to look the same?
Can you see me...
packing, unpacking, washing, repacking, unpacking, and washing...
When my heart longs to just put the clothes in a drawer or closet? To have a home? A place of stability, safety, security?
More packing, unpacking, washing...
Can you see through my eyes? My spirit sees the treasure; my body is tired. So tired. Yet, I press on. I must.
Can you see as we arrive at the hotel to find, yet again, not enough beds? The whole family in the same room, children scattered in the floor and sleeping between my husband and me. No privacy with him... no intimacy with him... day after day, week after week, month after month. The strain on our marriage is great. Can you see my tears? My loneliness? In the same room with him, yet so many obstacles in between. He looks at me. I look at him. A forced smile and a quick kiss goodnight. Can you see through my eyes?
Can you see as we arrive at the prophets chamber to find it unclean, bugs crawling, musty, and worse, the shower doesn't work? Can you see me trying to reassure my children as we scrub and clean though we are exhausted? "We should be thankful," I keep telling myself, but then I find myself sleeping in the middle of the bed at night afraid of the creatures I cannot see in the dark. We put on smiles and are determined to leave the place better than we found it to glorify God, but my muscles ache and I long for a good night of sleep. Can you see through my tired, heavy eyes?
Can you see as we get dressed for church, wondering what to expect? Shirts ironed, ties tied, skirts long and flowing. The boys in suits look dazzling, yet they tug and pull at the collars. Can you see us arriving at the church to find every boy in collared shirts and khakis or jeans? Our boys look at us for permission, and with a nod the jackets and ties come off. Somehow the jackets get dirty and need dry cleaned. The next stop we drop off the jackets at the cleaners and allow the boys to wear collared shirts and khakis... only to find all the other boys wearing suits. Can you see my frustration?
Can you see as we pack up our supplies, clothes, Bibles, video equipment, toys, coats, and bags at each church? We head out the door, down the road a couple of hundred miles, only to find at our next stop that we forgot something at the previous church... Again?
Can you see through my eyes as the baby cries about being put in the carseat again, and my heart breaks for him? Hours and hours strapped in, unable to play or crawl or cuddle. I wipe the tears from his little cheeks, and then I wipe them from my own. I understand the purpose of the sacrifice, but he does not.
Can you see as I try to potty train the 3 year old? It has been a struggle. Going down the road and the time we need a bathroom the most, nothing in sight. Can you see us arriving late because we had to stop and wash him before we came? Can you see the laundry piling up and nowhere to wash it close by? No time to stop?
Can you see the children buckled in for hours, wanting to play on the playground? We tried to make time for fun, but the traffic jam didn't help. Can you see us ushering them straight from the buckle to the pew and asking them to sit still for just a few more hours? Their little bodies can only hold back their energy so long. Can you see me hesitate in my discipline because, though some see rebellion, I see exhaustion in them? Can you see my struggle between compassion for them and keeping them in control?
Can you see the mama bear being restrained as someone quizzes my children about our standards? Come to their parents. We promise to be honest if you ask. These children are going through enough emotional struggles during this transition, and we are doing our best to help them through it without the added weight of trying to live up to the standards of others. And please be patient if my children say some pretty crazy things. They are children. They don't really hate church, but they have been in five back-to-back conferences. They just need a break. Can you see through their eyes, too?
Can you see through my eyes as I stand at the display table or sit down for dinner with you and struggle to divide my attention between you and my children? I love giving you eye contact. I want to talk to you. And sometimes I really NEED to talk to you, but motherhood is calling. I must answer.
Can you see me sitting in the pew during pregnancy sucking on lemon lollipops and wearing Seabands like they are the latest fashion, just hoping I don't get sick and that no one is offended at me eating candy during church? I surely also don't mean to be a distraction as I get up to go to the bathroom three times in one service.
Can you see my heart break as we have been unable to have any children, and someone says again, "So when are you going to have children? You aren't a real missionary until you have at least six." I do not want to embarrass you so I simply reply, "In God's timing."
Can you see me at all? I am a single woman going to help a needy ministry. Can you feel my loneliness at times? Can you feel my embarrassment as the groups are divided into "missionary husbands" and "missionary wives?" Where do I fit in?
Can you see me force a smile when you ask what I do... if I sing or what instrument I play? I am so sorry. That is not my talent, though I love beautiful music. I instead have poured my energies in learning women's ministries, teaching children, and sharing the Gospel. I hope I haven't disappointed you. I am very thankful for the other missionaries who God has gifted musically.
I hope you have not seen anything but gratitude as you have taken us out to a restaurant. Oh, but how we crave a good home cooked meal! Living on the road, we eat a lot of unhealthy fast foods. It is what we can afford and what we have time for. I am very embarrassed over the weight gain, too.
Can you see us trying to homeschool on the road? Trying to fit it in the overwhelmed schedule? Can you see the chaos in the hotel room, children spread out everywhere and distracting one another even when they try not to? Can you see my genuine concern as I ask to be excused from an activity so that I can school the children? Can you see my struggle as the pastor replies, "It won't hurt them to skip school just this once." The last three pastors agreed with that thought. Can you see me feeling like a failure as my children fall behind in their schooling?
Can you see me holding back a smile as our family hears the same presentation, watches the same video, hears the same songs... week after week after week?

Can you see the fear in my eyes as we stay in someone's home. There are breakables everywhere, and my children are... well, children. I want to help in the kitchen, yet I am not sure how to help the way some people like. But I will try.

Can you see me look at the pastor, wondering what he expects me to be like? Am I too outgoing? Am I too quiet? But I am just me.

As you tell me five minutes before class that I am teaching a large group of children or women, can you see the moment of panic? I try to be ready for anything, but it is difficult sometimes. With a little more notice, I can make the best use of the precious time I have with the class. After all, ministry is my heart.

BUT...

With many difficulties, why do I keep pressing and moving forward?

Because I have seen things, too. I have seen many blessings. Countless blessings. I force myself to keep my eyes on those. And I have seen people, young and old, giving all so that I could keep going. I have seen them sacrifice for our family. I have seen them work without complaining.  But I have seen something else, too.

I have seen a glimpse of the world through my Saviour's eyes. It gripped my heart, and it broke in pieces. I saw His heart's desire, and it became my desire. I saw His sacrifice, His pain, His tears. My difficulties seem so small in view of His.

So I press on because of what I have seen.

Can you see through my eyes?
Can you see through His?
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By Charity, Southern Asia



50 comments:

Lou Ann Keiser said...

We haven't done deputation--except for a church or two--since the '90s. As I read this, the true picture of today's deputation scene, I was struck with some of our own scheduling failures (like five missions conferences in a row) and many blessings. Most of our supporting churches are in one section of the country. We have family here and there along our route. We stayed mainly with parents and in-laws--who were more than happy to host us and the kids--and didn't have to stay in other people's homes (not hotels back then) much. We rarely got the luxury of a hotel room, and when we did, our little kids were thrilled with the continental breakfasts! Back then, though, we had two slide projectors, miles of cords, and a very complicated set-up for each meeting. It was FUN! Today, we pop in a Powerpoint and voilĂ . Some things are easier and some are harder. Such is our irregular, funny, hard and very blessed life.

Anonymous said...

After 14+ of being a missionary, surviving deputation and having pastored stateside, I will give you a word that I learned when God saved me 20 years ago. "Be yourself" in all circumstances, you'll never please everyone, and keep your eyes on Jesus only. Believe me, GOD will take care of all of the details; yes, even the needed finances to arrive and remain on the field where HE has called you to faithfully serve Him, even though and in spite of "not everyone likes or wants to be like you or your family"...

Jessica said...

Thank you for a very candid view of the "other side". Not being missionaries, we laymen often forget the small things. I am a very private person and cannot imagine having to entertain (so to speak) so many strangers in their own homes and churches. Thank you for all that you do in reaching others for Christ.

Anonymous said...

This is so well written and hits the nail on the head!!! We don't begrudge the time and it is part of serving, but it would be so helpful for a little sympathetic understanding sometimes. I remember on deputation when my husband and I had the saying between us, "always together, but never alone." It was hard. Schooling was the hardest part. Many times, my husband was going one and way and I was going another. When I asked about the kids, it threw a real monkey wrench into the plans. I remember being at a church where the pastor prayed for us specifically. When he said, "Lord, quite frankly I like going home at night to my wife and children and a meal waiting..." I wept. That kind of understanding meant so much. Having said all that, we survived and we have some very happy memories of our deputation time. I now have 2 children preparing for missionary service. What a blessing!!!!

Anonymous said...

So true. One church pastor took my husband aside and said, "Your wife is too forward." Literally, the very next Pastor said, "Involve your wife more." We learner through that experience that my focus was not on pleasing the Master but the pastor. And, some days I looked at what we were doing and thought we were nuts and other days, I just saw how blessed we were! Good times for learning humility and for seeing how proud I really am.

Reverend said...

Sorry you had to go through those things, but all could have been easily avoided. Skip deputation and go "Immediately" to where God calls you.

And then in lies the crux! Most I have met on the field simply had a burden for a particular group of people or a specific country. Burdens are great, but they are not the same as being called.If called...then go! If you have a burden...stay home and support someone on the field.

All missionaries on deputation love to quote Acts 16:9; the Macedonian call, but I have yet to hear one quote the next verse. "And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." it says they went "immediately".

They did not linger on deputation for one, two, three years or more! They went immediately. You will never find any verse that remotely indicates a person should spend time on deputation.

Sell everything and go! You didn't believe the Lord would meet your needs? I have been on the field for 3 years and God has supplied every need. I have no supporting churches. Those who have followed the mission via my posts have sent love offerings, tracts and Bibles to further the Gospel.

Obviously I do not believe in deputation. It is a tradition of men...not the Bible. All who will sacrifice everything need never experience what you and your family experienced by following a tradition of men.

Wisdomseeker said...

I am a layman and host to missionary families from time to time. I am reminded that as "good" at it as I think I am, that I have so much to learn in this ministry. I tend to be a 'Martha' and overload my emotions with trying to please and not focusing on just being myself also. I love writing that helps reveal to me my shortcomings and provoke growth in me. Thank you for your courage to be "yourself" and giving us insight that we as layman sometimes don't see or think of.

MDZIM said...

Skipping deputation would be nice but then you learn a lot on deputation one and two the reality is it would be nice to just pick up and go to the field but there is this thing called money and government regulations that prevent you from getting a job in said country. There in Acts the Roman Government and their roadways opened the way for the spread of the gospel and the church provided for the initial expenses as well as folks opening up doors during the journey. Also the grass isnt greener on the other side of the fence. You face a whole new set of struggles on the field itself. Life is challenging every aspect of it and it is all used to grow us and strengthen our Faith in Him. I do not like what deputation has become but yet it is the reality when churches don't give and churches don't send as they used to. It sounds nice but to tell a missionary just go would be like telling a layman in your church just quit your job and keep giving to the church and supporting your family as you did before. After all your job is distracting you from church and ministry. Deputation is ministry and it is a job it is work to get where you need to be. Paul's work to get to where he went was walking, riding horseback, sailing on boats that sank, spending time in prison. He did not just snap his fingers at each city and teleport to the next. Pauls ministry trips also was not a solo act. He traveled with fellow believers and was supported by churches, individuals, and sidejob as a tentmaker. Anyway, said enough or probably too much. A good article and I admire my wife's submission to the Lord as she and my kids are on deputation. Our time on deputation has not been a waste. We have seen God work in our life as well as the churches we have visited. It is our missionary journey to the place we long to be.

Charity said...

I have a beautiful vase full of roses sitting on my mantle. They were a recent gift from my husband. Several people have enjoyed them as they entered our home, commenting on how lovely it was to see fresh flowers. Throwing out deputation because it has some hiccups sometimes would be like throwing out the roses because they have some thorns. That's the reason for five previous posts on delightful deputation and only one on the "thorns." I am thankful for the warning that there are thorns so we can all learn how to work around them, and even remove a few. Deputation a necessary evil? No way... A wonderful opportunity to grow, share, meet, encourage, challenge, learn, and more. I look back on our deputation roses and praise the Lord for them, even if I got poked by the occasional thorn.

Ellen said...

Thank you for this post! It is excellent! We have seen a little through your eyes, only because we have children, other family members, and close friends who have also been there.

Anonymous said...

This is so true. I think this is why we didn't make it.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine all the pressures a missionary family on deputation must go through!
It's too bad more churches don't focus on the fact that we are all on the same team, working for the same goals, and little petty things aren't a big deal in light of the bigger picture.
And it's too bad it's taking missionaries so long to get to the field these days, because churches aren't stepping up to the plate. Our church has a gorgeous, fully stocked missions apartment, loves pampering missionaries, and is ready to support 100% the next missionary our church will send out from our church, eliminating the years needed for deputation. I don't believe deputation is a "needed" tool for doing missions, if one has already spent years serving the Lord in church and going on missions trips. Sure you can learn from everything, but you can also learn on the mission field and get there quicker if you don't need to travel for months just to raise 100 bucks here and there. God said to go, He never said spend 4 years raising money. If a church or individual can support them independently, why not?

MDZIM said...

I would agree if a church has the means then that is awesome. Not every church does though and not every family that is called is in that church so for some its not an option to do otherwise. I know of some that are able to work in the country they are going to and that is awesome too. I just do not believe it is realistic to say chuck it out the window. I would also mention having grown up on a mission field you would possibly be surprised by the rate of missionaries that do not make it past their first term due to not having the stick to it iveness that is required on some fields. I realize that some stop for legitimate reasons as well you cannot generalize and that is the danger of saying deputation is a waste as some do need that kind of training for the field they are going to and some are not in a position where their church can support them for the full amount. I am glad that it is an option for some and I am also glad for those who are able to be tentmaking missionaries as well. I am happy about the spreading of the gospel wherever that might occur. Sometimes necessity calls us to do that which is hard and not easy. That can be in any form of ministry. So for those the Lord has placed on deputation pray for them as they do what is required of them. Some lessons are better learned in a place where you can at least speak the language and associate with people who understand your culture; however, God can teach us no matter where we are in life. When the honeymoon of being on the field is over it is sure nice to have multiple churches to lean on and contacts to call for encouragement, guidance, and support. I do not think it is being said that one cannot go straight to the field if they are able but the focus is for those that are not able to go straight to the field. I am glad they are still willing to go even if they cannot just hop on over they are not giving up. I think they will be grateful in the long term. My parents would have loved to pay my way through college but that just did not happen I had to pay my own way. It was tough but I am still benefiting from the lessons learned. Having gone through that I am also very thankful for those students who do not have to do that.

Kelly Hulin said...

This is exactly what my uncle told me and my husband when we were called into missions...

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article. I am a missionary's wife on deputation & can relate to alot of things you said in this post - especially traveling with young children. I am grateful for the opportunity though. We have met some wonderful people on the road - friends for life, but you are right.....if you could see it through the peoples' eyes who are going through it, you would understand.

A Circuit Riding Preacher said...

Charity, my sister, Thanks for putting my observations in print -and saying it much better than I could. I've been on "deputation" since leaving home church in 1972, headed for the "field". But instead I was sentenced to the home staff to go on the road recruiting missionaries. Different bed nightly, different church, school, college, and anywhere else I could find to speak. And sitting with a group of missionaries on some far off field conference- WOW, they can keep you laughing and/or crying for hours telling 'deputation stories'.
Bet you could write a book! Keep up the good work, young lady. Keep on keeping on. "It" isn't worth it but HE is!

Anonymous single missionary on deputation said...

Yes, I am a single woman on deputation, and rarely think of the trials, yet, they are constant, along with the blessings. I can't say my lot is harder. I've never been married and on deputation. But, though I'm a pretty daring person, I have found myself having nightmares of some of the repeated situations. For example, a couple in a church invited the missionaries to pie and ice cream after the afternoon meal. Of course, things did not go as planned. The meal was not ready on time and the fellowship went late. Time was short to travel to the couple's home and still get back before church but the pastor felt bad to postpone pie at his members' home. So, I am wondering how to get to the house, eat (food my body doesn't tolerate well), get back to the church, have time to freshen up, and get to my table even 15 minutes before evening church. In rush hour, downtown traffic, I get cut off. I have no directions. I realize that the guy in the rap-blazing car next to me is staring at me intently. I am unable to move in the traffic jam. Finally, my car runs out of gas. (Please check if missionaries need contact info or gas.) So, now, I have a bike. I'm determined to get over this pie and ice cream hurdle. A guy wearing headphones is paralleling me on his bike and asking my name. I'm on the cell phone with the hosts trying to get directions, realizing I left my GPS in the car, and hoping my fully loaded car and all my belongings will still be where I had to park it. In another, more recent dream, I was staying in a pastor's family's home in a room without shades or curtains on the windows. A street guy who had seen me in town had seen where I was staying and walked into the house, since the pastor's family did not believe in locking doors. (Safety and privacy: Many times doors and windows don't even lock or there is no key available or everyone in town knows where the key is kept since it has been kept there for years on end.) The next day, since I am not "a couple", I was sent on a girls' ice skating activity. (I enjoy investing in girls but sometimes I enjoy adult conversation - or even the choice of what my next activity will be and the knowledge of my own schedule before the rest of the "children" are told.) I started to look forward to going ice skating, but it was discovered that most of the provided ice skates were broken. So, only half of the girls got to skate - and of course, I deferred to them. I was the extra. "Not an adult", though students I have taught have families of their own, but not a child. Someone brought in mail that had arrived for me but I had no privacy to open it. Even in my dream, I was trying to keep a good attitude and be friendly to the girls, but it's hard sometimes. These dreams are only the result of repeated VERY SIMILAR situations. They are very close to the truth.

cont'd anonymous single missionary on deputation said...

Dreams aside, though, guest rooms are almost without fail dusty (and I'm allergic and wake up with swollen eyes and messed up sinuses), buggy (at least I'm not afraid of bugs! I've had a large cockroach on my foot, found a box elder on my pillow every night, or I find the smell of bug spray. I would rather sleep with bugs than poison.) Toilets or showers may be broken or there is no hot water. I have been greeted with a gas leak, broken locks... (Please ask anyone who stays in your guest room if there's anything to prepare for the next guests.) We really appreciate your willingness to save us a hotel bill! As a single lady, I would ask, though, could you please tell us who else has access to the building / our room / keys / who we should let in if they knock, etc. You may be mad at us if we refuse to let your janitor in - but how do we know you sent him? On a different note, I have had a sickness that caused me to need frequent breaks. Will you judge me if I sit in the back of the auditorium or will you judge me if I sit in the front and leave several times?? (Both?) As noted in the original article, this issue makes travel very hard and more time consuming. Being late can be a key issue in being refused support, but does anyone consider health issues and mishaps and car problems and faulty GPS (another of my living nightmares)? Since I am young and look healthy, I therefore have no excuse for not being perfect. But thank you so much to those of you who treat me like a person who truly can't create miracles, though I try! I am God's messenger, but not an angel - in any sense of the word! :D I may not say "ow!!" when you pinch me, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt. I won't bother to elaborate on making blind phone calls to all types of pastors, staring at the road all day long "by myself" with God alone, writing all of the correspondence and thank you notes, designing and preparing the slides and literature, planning routes, hotels, doing laundry and / or cooking, shopping, making sure the car is fixed right, dealing with dingy mechanic's shops or gas stations that I discover to be covers for illegal activity, etc. Please don't judge me when I have to take "time off" because my doctor says I have frazzled nerves and need a break from stress. (True story.) Anyway, thanks for listening, and to everyone - missionaries and hosts alike - don't give up!! Nothing is perfect but it will be worth it all when we see Jesus! Rest, pray, take a deep breath, improve the strategy, praise the Lord, and march onward! God bless you.

Anonymous single missionary on deputation said...

Thank you, Charity, for your very concise, clear, and insightful article.

Lauren's thoughts said...

great post! Thanks for putting it out there for us all to see! We need to hear this from more missionaries! Often we know all this, but we tend to forget! <3

Denise said...

I had to smile as I read this as we spent 3 years on deputation with 3 children. I was so thankful when we got a 5th wheel trailer and finally had something to call home. It made the journey sweeter. We look back fondly on those days but they were not without challenges. One of the worst days I remember we had visited 7 churches in one week and were traveling back 100 miles to the trailer when the kids just started crying. My husband looked at me and said can you stop them from crying? I told him no, I'm ready to cry myself, just let them get it out. They cried for another few miles down the road and fell asleep. He promised never to schedule that many meetings in a week. Thanks for the insight and honesty. It's not the glamourous journey some might think it is but it's worth it to arrive on your field serving the Lord.

Anonymous said...

You need to remember a few things, first Paul's life is just an example, not a commandment by God. He was single, he often traveled with another man, and he could perform miracles. Does today's missionary have to do these things in order to be in God's will? Second, and less importantly, the phrase is "immediately endeavored", not "immediately left". It sounds like some things needed to be done before they left. Deputation is an "endeavor" to be sure.

On a whole, I dislike deputation for many of the reasons laid out in the article as well as the sense of salemanship or competition that exists today. I do however appreciate greatly the notes, calls and prayers of many churches (all of which do not support us). Without deputation I would never have met many friends that I have today.

This is a little of topic but the difference between a "call" and a "burden" makes for great preaching, but is hard to explain using the scripture. All Christians are called and the world is our field regardless of your burden. Finding scripture that says God only calls specific people to go to a specific country is and only those people are "called" to be witnesses there, that is hard to prove. One might say, Paul was called to Macedonia, yes with a vision. I have never had God call me where I am with a vision. Philip was called to by God to testify in his field. He was also miraculously transported there. That hasn't happened to me either. I believe God will use anyone in any field if they go. That said, I do believe in specific calls like those of Paul, but I do not believe that is the only call of God to go the foreign field.

Anonymous said...

May God bless and encourage you as you continue to serve the Lord and to trust Him. My deputation took almost 3 years, and I am grateful for the time it took because the Lord used that time to teach me many lessons that I would have never learned otherwise. I can empathize with you. Keep focused on the prize, the high calling of serving our Master. from a fellow single missionary lady serving in Asia.

Lewis Howell said...

To Reverend - I Praise God for those who are prepared when they are called, and able to go "immediately" to the field. However, this is far from the norm today and from the norm of most men of God found throughout the Bible. I look at the disciples who spent 3 years learning to trust God before God empowered the church of Jerusalem and gave them 100% of their support through that local church. It was not until after Pentecost they were to go to the missionary field, Jesus told them this (Luke 24:49). They minded God and not man. Yes, they royally screwed it up. As a missionary friend says, "Acts 1:8 was not fulfilled until Acts 8:1" when God kicked them out of Jerusalem through persecution.

Paul's call to the mission field was on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:15), not on the Macedonian Road as you equate to deputation. The time from the Damascus Road to the Macedonian Call was 15-20 years. A simple study reveals they spent much time in preparation before going to the field, which is what deputation is for most of us today. Paul's backside of the desert preparation was the average length of deputation, 3 years (Gal. 1:18). For me, deputation was both my education and my training together where I was able to complete my Masters Degree on full-time deputation, while working a job on the road and raising a family. Just because God allowed me to do it this way does not give me the right to say every missionary must do it this way or they are following "tradition of men."

You say at the point of the Macedonian call, "They did not linger on deputation for one, two, three years or more!" This is far from the context of the passage when equated to deputation. You are right that Paul said, "immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia" but you are wrong by pulling it out of this time-frame of Paul's ministry to make an unfounded point against deputation (beware, the cults do this with scripture all the time, pulling what they want to make the point they want). The Macedonian call was not given to Paul while he was in his home church working a job, nor while in Bible college, but rather when he was already on the field and already into his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 15:36). Paul was not a novice at this point, he had been educated by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 1:11-12); he was well trained and already on the mission field when he said "immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia" ... this is unlike many today who are persuaded by men to make an immediate move into the ministry. "And then in lies the crux" and failure of both missionaries and once sound/solid churches: too many church pulpits and mission fields are pastored by novices who went immediately to the field in defiance of scripture, out of the will and the timing of God. Ironically, in Paul's wisdom, he would not allow a novice on the field where he received this Macedonian Call (Acts 15:37-38).

I am an IFB, KJV, local church, missionary relying solely on God's plan for missions, through His storehouse/treasury, the local church, for the support of all of my needs, as well as the guidance of getting to and remaining on the field; I do not rely on "my posts" on the Internet. If my church could have supported me 100% then I would have went immediately to the field when prepared, but my church said to go on deputation, so I went on deputation ... this then became a major part of my preparation for the field and I am thankful for it. This action is called local church authority, not as you say, "tradition of men...not the Bible."

Does a missionary have to go on deputation? N0!

Is a missionary wrong for going on deputation? N0!

Is a missionary wrong for not going on deputation? N0!

How does a missionary know what to do about deputation? Go to your pastor. If you go to the Internet, be sure it is seasoned with your pastor's advice and led by the Spirit as there is MUCH heresy out there.

FACT: Deputation defies absolutely NO scripture

Lewis Howell said...

To Charity - AWESOME POST! This is a great read and reminder for all missionaries, pastors and church members. I honestly tried my best to shelter my wife and family from as much of this as possible while on deputation, it cost us support and lengthier deputation, but it was WELL WORTH IT ALL! After the first year on deputation and seeing how my wife and girls were unreasonably treated, I made the change to decide (for my family's best interest) when and where they would travel on deputation with me, no matter what the cost. Fact is, I am the one called to the ministry, not my family (my wife's calling is to follow the calling of God on my life). I knew that if I finished deputation and lost my family (though we would still be together) then I would not have a ministry. I explained this to pastors when I was setting meetings and I did not get some meetings as a result. I believe this helped weed out who God would have us be with, as I was minding God and not man. I am grateful beyond words for our sending church's support through this and to all the churches who support us, and I am equally grateful for the ones that refused supporting us for this reason. As a result, we have the absolute BEST group of faithful supporting churches in the world! THANK YOU!

Missionary, if you intentionally subject your family to this kind of deputation then you are bowing down to man and not to God. I unintentionally did this for the first year, but made the immediate change when God opened my eyes to the warning signs that I should have seen in my wife's eyes a year earlier (she never complained or said a word, but when I realized what was going on I immediately shifted gears). My family desperately needed their breaks and it was my responsibility as husband and father to take a stand to determine when they needed their breaks, not some pastor who we did not even know. If you take a stand, though deputation may be longer, the churches supporting you will HAVE YOUR BACK 110%! ALSO, you may just be surprised at the number of pastors out there who agree 110% with this article, who will fully understand and be thankful that you are putting your family as a top priority in your ministry before you even get to the field. As we picked up supporting churches that my family was not with me, I would then schedule my family traveling with me when I knew that we would be passing through these churches again. SURPRISE, visiting these churches with my family had EVERYONE from the pastor, to his flock, to my family COMPLETELY relaxed and enjoying the church rather then my wife stressed to all ends not wanting to hinder possible support in some ridiculous way that is mentioned in this article...

FYI, the stress on my wife and family this first term on the field is beyond my expectations, but I cannot imagine what it would be like if I had stressed them to loss on deputation.

Nicki said...

Thanks for your blog seen through the eyes of so many different ladies, in so many different situations. We are on our second deputation round (moving fields) - our first one was six months with three elementary school kids, and so I can relate to lots of these experiences - spilled sodas on a Sunday dress 30 mins before arriving at a church! Arriving in hotels at 9pm when people are settling down for the night, and my kids are like a coiled spring! Currently we are in the middle of a one year deputation with two high school teens. We get to see lots of cool stuff, meet lots of cool people, and thankfully have had good accommodation. But it is very tiring and it's hard to keep things balanced. What will the other teens at that church be wearing so our kids don't look out of place is not easy - teens are pretty sensitive about that stuff. Certainly, getting people to understand our kids can't just "have a day off" school is hard - and makes you feel so guilty like you are a slave driver - but my kids want to go to college too! Please just give us your wifi password and a quiet room :-D Anyway, deputation is just the way it works, we did sell our house initially to help us onto the mission field, but getting there used all that up, and we still needed money day to day. I worked full time most of the time on the field, but our mission field was very expensive and funding from churches was essential. More than that, having countless people we had met praying for us was not just essential, but a lifeline. I would love it if we could do it by teleporting, but we do get to see the country! Thanks for sharing your thoughts - I enjoyed your humorous ones too!

Anonymous said...

A missionary of 35 years, I can still remember deputation, its trials and its blessings. One of our children is also a missionary. We remember the trials now and laugh as we recall the incidents. God was so very good to us and this time was also a time of learning.

Charity said...
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Charity said...

Thank you all for the encouraging words. I cannot take credit other than I compiled the thoughts of a great group of ladies who really opened up and shared their hearts. I pray the Lord uses this post as he sees fit. Thank you, Lewis Howell, for stepping up to the plate and giving such great counsel and biblical teaching on two important topics. I was hoping a man would step in, because I sure didn't feel it was my place as a missionary wife. I whole heartedly believe the same compassion and leadership you explained made the difference in our deputation experience. My husband knew when to say, "You all are taking a break this trip." He kept communication open, paying attention to our needs. We loved the travel as a family, but had to learn balance. We could have gotten to the field much quicker than 2 1/2 years, but God gave Jason a lot of wisdom in following His timing and keeping his priorities balanced as a husband and father. There of course were things out of our control, and God used those moments to teach us as a family. I am so thankful God chose deputation for us. We needed it and He knew that.

Nancy said...

Charity, I would love for you to contact me via email. My husband and I have a ministry for missionaries, pastors, and other ministry workers. mom2xandz@gmail.com. I would love to get one of our brochures to you via email. I, along with my late husband, were foreign missionaries to France and Canada and fully understand deputation (the eternal vacation) life. Thanks, Nancy

Jessi said...

This was a great post. I have enjoyed all of the Deputation posts, and although I don't have time to comment often, I am a huge fan of this missionary women blog. It is so helpful and so much of an encouragement to us all. I think this post was written in an excellent way, and in my opinion did not sound to be complaining at all. It just gives the other side, the full picture. I think so many people don't understand and yet they want to understand us better. Thanks for posting this. I was wondering if it would be okay if I reposted this on my blog.

Jessi said...

This was a great post. I have enjoyed all of the Deputation posts, and although I don't have time to comment often, I am a huge fan of this missionary women blog. It is so helpful and so much of an encouragement to us all. I think this post was written in an excellent way, and in my opinion did not sound to be complaining at all. It just gives the other side, the full picture. I think so many people don't understand and yet they want to understand us better. Thanks for posting this. I was wondering if it would be okay if I reposted this on my blog sometime.

Amy Meyers said...

Charity, thank you for posting on a difficult subject! You mentioned hoping a man would step up...my husband recently posted on deputation as well here: http://sonofcarey.com/2014/02/does-deputation-deserve-a-good-attitude/

We have a vision for revamping deputation a bit so that some of the negatives can be eliminated. :) Blessings to you!

Charity said...

Thank you for the encouraging words, Jessi! I am so glad it came across as sincerely as it was intended, and not complaining. As far as posting the article on another blog, it might be a great option to write or post a preview and then post a link to the article on the BMW blog instead of reposting the full article. I want to be very sensitive to the BMW blog that has graciously invited me to be a contributor. I also want to be sensitive to the desires of the ladies who shared their hearts with me for this post specifically to be posted on the BMW blog. Does that make sense?

Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing! It is kind of a comfort to know others have had similar experiences and understand mine. This is well-written, both honest and gracious, and I am going to share it with my friends and on my blog.

Jessi said...

It makes perfect sense, Charity. I didn't even think about that, so I am glad that you did. I think it is needful to give the whole picture of our lives as missionaries in an honest, uncomplaining way--the mountains and the valleys because then people know more how to pray for us. But I know that even I feel uncomfortable pushing that publish key wondering if what I said will come across all wrong. Thank you for the courage to post it after all of the other positive posts on deputation. They were so true too. By the way, I have no idea why my above comment published twice. It looked like I somehow deleted it the first time, so I wrote it again, and then it was back again with the other one! Ha Ha

Charity said...

I sooooo know what you mean about hitting "publish." I cannot tell you how much time was spent praying, writing, editing, rewriting, praying... Just for this one article. I even had it looked over by unbiased eyes just to be sure it didn't come across as ungrateful. The ladies who opened up and shared their experiences really took a great risk sharing their hearts, and I sure wanted to do it justice. To God be the glory. ((((((hugs))))) from Southern Asia, sister!

Young and Free said...

Can you see me at all? I am a single woman going to help a needy ministry. Can you feel my loneliness at times? Can you feel my embarrassment as the groups are divided into "missionary husbands" and "missionary wives?" Where do I fit in?

This part struck me the most. I have been to too many missions conferences and churches where I have been pulled aside and told that I was allowed to present, but because I did not have a husband, I would not be supported by the hosting church. I was absolutely shocked. I felt as though my call was less important than others because I wasn't married. I'm not full-time living in Uganda, but I am still a missionary. My heart goes out to and sympathized with single women who also feel that they are out of place and vulnerable...

Charity said...

Thank you, Amy, for sharing a very different perspective on deputation. Though your husband and I may disagree on some points, I sure am thankful we can agree that we want every area of missions, including deputation, to be the best it can be for God's glory. There is always room for improvement. Being open and honest is often risky, but sometimes you have to take those risks in order to make progress. There is a beauty in having a multitude of godly counselors... Even when you don't agree on every point. It sure opens our eyes to a bigger picture. So, again, thank you for sharing. ((((( hugs)))))) from Asia!

Mom said...

Excellent! True and well written.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you. Very well written. I'm an MK and currently on deputation. I pray I live for the audience of one, and expect the same from my family.

Jackie Boise Cubbison said...

God bless all Missionary wives. Having gone into ministry at a late age, I experienced a very small portion of what I believe a Missionary wife goes through on deputation and then on the field. May God richly bless you, in your spirit and in you work.

Tammie said...

Today we complete a two month furlough. 17 meetings in 7 weeks. I am sitting at the kitchen table in the house we have so graciously been staying at for 10 days. I have fet just as welcome here and in every place we have stayed for the last 7 weeks as I would expect to be welcomed in my own mother´s house. God knew I needed a lot of love from fellow Christians and He abundantly supplied it! Reading your post brought back a flood of memories, both negative and positive, of our three year deputation journey twenty years ago. I have seen many new missionary wives in the last few weeks and I have seen in their eyes the struggles that you write about. Thank you for helping others see it through our eyes. Very good post!

Byron Willis said...

Very good!

Rosa B. said...

Very true and well written. Deputation is hard to truly understand unless you've been through it. Now, being in the midst of it, I have a new respect for those who travel in ministry of any kind. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I have seen "your kind" in the last 19 years on the field. Most of the time they are asking for food or money before they leave in frustration.

Jackie Boise Cubbison said...

Reverend, are you a "called " missionary?

Sarah said...

Tears in my eyes from this post. How well I remember deputation. Thankful for it's lessons. Thankful too that it's over. :) I will be referring others I know to read this as they begin their journey. Looking forward to reading Depuration Delights. God bless and thank you. It was really good to remember. Boy does it make those dirty dishes in MY OWN sink seems like a blessing!! ;)

Anonymous said...

YES!

Anonymous said...

I am a missionary of nearly 40 years. I absolutely hate deputation and furlough. The uncertainty or where you are going to stay, sleep, eat, where to wash clothes and finding a place to stay between appointments. If someone says they have to homeschool, let them homeschool! Our kids got so far behind the one year we homeschooled, I had to quite traveling for a month to catch up. I thank God we did have family that could lend us a house for 6 months or a year. We weren't there much, but at least we could park our stuff. Last but not least, don't tell your missionaries you are looking forward to seeing them & dump them in a motel and forget about them. (You can see why I chose "Anonymous"!)