Take a missionary to lunch.

As a child I saw missionaries as larger-than-life characters. Our pastor read at least one prayer letter each week, and prayed over the requests. Occasionally they came in person, with slides and displays and stories and artifacts of faraway peoples, lands, and customs.

Then they would disappear for another four years. They were spiritual Will o’ the wisps, and I viewed them with great respect, even awe. When Dad and Mom invited one home for dinner or even to spend the night, I took it all in, wondering with a great wonder how they could do all they did.

Some of that has changed, of course, now that I am an adult. The awe has not diminished; the respect has not dimmed; I’m still amazed at all they do. But my grown-up eyes see what my childish vision could not comprehend, and my wonder is even greater.

Somewhere along the way it dawned on me that missionaries have lives. That along with learning new languages, boarding a hundred jets and airplanes, packing and unpacking, doing ministry and visiting supporting churches, they have moms and dads who get sick and die, children who sometimes don’t follow God, relationships that are less than perfect, feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure and financial insecurity. Just like me. Just like you.

But unlike those of us who stay at home, they often are in places where they really can’t share openly. They have to think in two cultures, and “decompress” every time they come home and go back home. For they have new homes and new spiritual families, and their children may feel closer to these than their own culture of origin.

You know what it is like to feel “out of sync” after a week or two of vacation. Think how you would respond in returning to the USA after two or three or four years of intense work. Think things have changed much? Think you may feel a little out of step, a little behind on current events, somewhat dismayed at how things feel?

You get the idea. Many of us grew up hearing missionary stories. Will you make it your ministry to listen to A missionary’s story? Granted, getting together is even more difficult these days. But you can start by putting a name to a face, and begin to correspond personally with one of these special people whom God has called to leave the familiar and family and friends, just to share Jesus.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'”
Acts 13:2

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