“I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you…” 2 Cor. 12:14
The other day I saw a comment on Facebook that made me pause and think about the cost of following Christ overseas. I am not one of those who thinks “there’s no sacrifice” to being a missionary. For every missionary, the sacrifice looks different but there is definitely something each one gives up.
Here is the comment from a women to her missionary sister: “I think about you all the time and sometimes wish someone else had felt called to be there. I struggle with fear and anxiousness for my little family there but I know you are doing such healing work …I feel also, amidst my fear, hope for all who have lost so much [due to the tsunami] because your hearts followed God’s call.”
For most missionaries, I imagine the most painful part is not being near one’s family back home. How missed they are by their families back home as well! I just talked to a veteran missionary yesterday who deeply longs to see her 85-year old father, but she will not be visiting home anytime soon. Another missionary friend finds it painful not to be able to watch her grandchildren in the U.S. growing up. Other things that missionaries miss are close friendships, church family, holiday celebrations, familiar foods, and of course, speaking English. As an American, I visit home regularly but I know missionaries from India, South America, and Africa who cannot visit home more than every 4-6 years or more!
Indeed there is a sacrifice that the family members of a missionary have to make as well. For example, the parents of the missionary will miss being near their grandchildren. They probably won’t get to see them graduate, attend all their birthday parties, see them loose their first tooth, read them bedtime stories, take them clothes shopping, or babysit them. I imagine it’s the little things that sting the most, the moments when you’d do anything just to be able to hug and kiss your grandchild instead of just talking on Skype.
From the M blog: “…[visiting] here in the States, I am seeing that following God’s call on our life as overseas missionaries has been costly on us as a family. We have given up much. Each member of our family has had to pay a real price in order to live and serve our Lord overseas. I don’t know if things would have been better or worse living this time in the USA, but I do know it has been costly to us as a family emotionally, spiritually, physically. In a real sense we bear real “scars” of our choice to follow Jesus like we have.”