Current reflections from the mission field
A reflection from some of our missionaries who are currently on the field…
Our experience with suffering on the mission field looks different for us in our context. In this country we have missionary visas and work permits authorised by the government, and the people are generally friendly towards foreigners and respectful of other people’s religious beliefs, as long as we do not behave rude or obnoxious. We do face a range of challenges however, like learning to negotiate the different driving styles. Only the other day we passed three people lying sprawled on the road in various stages of unconscious who had been riding 3-up on a motorcycle, with no helmets and had crashed into a pickup at an intersection. We have also learned how to cope with snakes, scorpions, biting fire ants and aggressive (rabid?) dogs. Maybe it’s not that we have learnt much through these, instead it is probably God’s gracious protection. Separation from our children is also tough, especially when we see them struggling. Missing special occasions such as birthdays and graduations is hard, although we stay connected with our 4 kids via WhatsApp, Skype and with visits.
The hardest struggle is the spiritual and relational issues we face. How do you remain positive in a culture so given to idolatry and spirit activity? How do you overcome the disappointments when people who you have invested in heavily, turn from God. When Christians you love tear each other to pieces? How do you cope when you must face up to your own failures?
I find great encouragement from the scriptures. Much scripture comes from the lives of people going through tough times as they walk with God against the flow of the prevailing culture and spirituality. Also we are blessed with a great team of prayers who under gird our work. If we had to rely only on our own prayers; we would not survive.
We also try to stay close as a couple, working hard to keep communicating and growing together. We walk 30 minutes every morning and try to stay healthy. Mondays is our day off when we recharge. We have good annual holidays. These things give us resilience. Recent studies at Laidlaw College have helped us think through issues of leadership and ministry, where we have been found wanting. It has enabled us to have new insight into the interaction and conflict between ourselves and others as we serve God.
We are greatly encouraged by many Godly Thai believers, missionaries, and supporters back home. Due to OMF being an established larger mission, it has good support systems resulting in many workers remaining in the field for more than 20 years.
We are part of the wonderful family of God, with God Himself at the centre. Encouragement and support comes to us from many parts of His family as we dwell in Christ together.