I recommend reading this article by Joe Holman, missionary in Bolivia. It’s very helpful to understand the struggles of a missionary. I really appreciate his honesty, even if I don’t agree with every point.
From the blog post: “I would say that out of all the negatives to living on the mission field, this is the worse one: saying good-bye. Our lives become one of a constant good-bye. We are saying good-bye to fellow missionaries leaving for the States. We have to say good-bye to our children. Denise and I now have four kids living in the USA while we remain in Bolivia. When we visit for furlough and see grandpa and grandma, we have to say good-bye again to go back to the field. It stinks.”
I have been thinking often about a sweet missionary friend who just left her elderly father behind in the US to come to Japan. Her heart is broken to see her formerly brilliant father failing with dementia; it hurts tremendously that she and her kids can’t be there at her father’s side (he is in good hands with her siblings, though).
The reality is that missionaries sacrifice a lot, and not being with family is the hardest for many. Missionaries miss out on so many things, especially special times with children and grandchildren. It’s tempting to wonder if it’s all worth it, but we always come back to Jesus’ promise that “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.“
I truly believe that we’ll get the answer to the question, “Was it worth it?” on Judgment Day when we receive our crowns to cast at Jesus’ feet. It will be so worth it to hear Jesus tell us He was pleased that we obeyed the call to leave our homeland for the sake of the gospel. Can I even imagine such bliss?