Mission Field Realities

The Mission Field Becomes a Humbling Experience

Go Into All the World
So, you have heard the call of God to the mission field and decided to take the plunge. You take your first step off the plane and onto foreign soil. A humid, sticky breeze hits your face bringing with it the overpowering stench of the garbage-lined streets. You brush it off easily, floating on a cloud of exhilaration into the airport. The workers there tell you that your luggage is lost, and apathetically read you a scripted apology in poor English. Though a bit irritated, your 'positive attitude' buffer is still faring quite well and you drive happily toward your new adventure in an overcrowded taxi.

Two weeks later, after having suffered diarrhea and vomiting for most of your stay so far, you suddenly feel your first twinge of misgiving about your current situation. Immediately you are overcome by your sense of failure and you decide to fast and pray until your 'bad attitude' is reformed.

Many people start their work in missions with unrealistic expectations of themselves and the mission itself. Most travel to another country having an idea of what to expect, but falsely assume that because they have prepared for the experience, they will never feel down. Well, the harsh reality is that no matter how much of a 'glass half full' person you may be, there will come a time when you flat out want to throw in the towel and catch the first flight home. If you are thinking you would not/could not have such thoughts, you may be in for some surprises down the road, including a sense of failure.

During these kinds of experiences, we must humble ourselves before the Lord and realize that we are not as super-human as we thought. We don't have super-spiritual powers that render us immune to the things that wear away our 'buffer.' We all need the grace of God for those times when we would rather throw the malfunctioning laptop out the window, shout curse words at ants that found a way into the water filter, or break into tears of frustration because all the food in the fridge spoiled due to a power outage. (Yes, I am speaking from personal experience).

As much as we would like to avoid these times, I have found that God does some of His best work within us during these trials. We are humble and open to Him. We realize that apart from His grace, we are helpless to do any good for others, let alone ourselves, . Cast your cares on Him, remember why you came, don't lose sight of the bigger picture, and get yourself a coconut smoothie (check for bugs and hairs before your first drink). You will be feeling chipper again in no time.

The following Tolerance Quiz will test your metal for mission work. How well would you handle:

  • Finding a hair in your soup
  • Finding a fly in your soup
  • Finding an indistinguishable animal organ in your soup
  • Water pressure that makes the camp shower seem like luxurious living
  • Discovering an ant colony developing inside your laptop that has been on the coffee table for three days
  • Toilets that are not toilets, but small ceramic covered holes in the ground
  • The smell of rotten fish and open sewage in a very large percentage of the city

I have experienced every one of the above scenarios. These are not occasional occurrences. This is daily life. If you didn't cringe in horror at each situation listed above, congratulations! You'll need fewer consolation coconut smoothies than I do.

Written by: Amber Martinez