A Roller Coaster of Emotions
Seeing myself and those around me deal with the sudden COVID-19 crisis reminded me a lot of the roller coaster of emotions missionaries go through arriving on the field. The graph below is adapted from the culture-shock curve that most missionaries learn before going to the field to help them understand the emotional roller coaster when encountering the reality of living in a new culture.
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By Alex Tee
The feeling of stepping into an unknown future in a foreign land is not unlike what many of us are feeling during COVID-19.
In the beginning it was all new, and not everyone was suffering. But that enchantment phase of ‘saving the world by watching TV all day’ wore off quickly. The reality of COVID-19 has hit. Suffering has come closer to us.
This time we do not have the privilege of attrition, that is leaving the field, because we can’t cope. We must accept this reality, adapt and learn to blossom so we don’t remain traumatized and wrecked as this continues.
What missionaries need to learn, we all now need to learn. What would it look like if we respond to this situation as if it were a mission post that the Lord has assigned us?
Let’s align the life God gives us to live today with His purposes. Neither His promises nor His marching orders (such as the Great Commission) has he withdrawn.
Here are some tools missionaries employ in order to come out of the dip of culture shock and can help you as you manage living each day in a pandemic:
Keep learning. Judging, blaming and complaining will not help and can become footholds for the enemy.
Pray. Pray for each and every neighbor and the people you know. Be ready when God opens the door for you to speak a word of truth into their lives.
Confess your grumpiness and irritability. Ask for forgiveness. Be a clean channel that God can use and surrender yourself daily. This is the day that he has made for you (not one that you are trying to make). Tomorrow will have its own burdens that he will take care of in its own time.
Adapt. Wearing a face mask may feel as awkward as wearing a head cover. Not touching your face as eerie as not using your left hand to eat. It is different, but not wrong. It is inconvenient, but doesn’t have to rob contentment.
Enter. Enter into the world. Into the suffering. Serve as appropriate and as you are able. Share your hope. Have some stories ready, your testimony and bible stories, which you can share in day to day situations. Be generous with what God has given.
Abide. Stay connected to the Vine. You don’t have it in yourself to stay on top of things or to go through suffering. Let His word speak to you and His Spirit fill you. Commit yourself and all your feelings and anxiety to Him. You can be real before God.
Vision. The ends of the earth that are within reach now may be more limited (but not for God). Be still and envision what it might mean for the glory of the Lord to fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Our times may have changed, but not our call to live in mission. Now is a good time to step up, and not just cope. Let’s learn and spur on one another.
Alex Tee and his family have served with OMF for over 20 years. Their three children were born in three different countries. He now works as a missions consultant on the mobilization team. Aside from time with his family, he loves to go for a hike and capture God’s glory in creation with an old camera.