October is Missions-Emphasis Month in many churches in the Philippines. And so, one of our supporting churches, Greenhills Christian Fellowship-East, asked me to give a report on our recently-concluded assignment in the Americas Area. Rather than simply showing pictures of places we’ve been and people we’ve met, I shared some misconceptions about missionaries that apply to me and my wife Dahl, and to many missionaries I know. Here they are and corresponding principles to correct such misconceptions.
Myth 1: “I am too old to be a missionary.”
Well, I was 43 when called me out of the pastoral ministry to join the global missionary force. Dahl and I were almost 50 when we moved to Costa Rica. Principle: If and when God calls you to be a missionary, his timing is always perfect.
Myth 2: “I am too ordinary to be a missionary.”
Some people believe that you have to be extraordinary and super-spiritual to qualify as a missionary. Dahl and I are ordinary people. We do not come from prominent or wealthy families. Our IQs are normal. Our skills and abilities are not exceptional. Principle: When God calls, he gives ordinary people the privilege of participating in his extraordinary work.”
Myth 3: “If you speak English, you’re all set.”
Everybody all over the world speaks English, right? Wrong! Most of the people we related to in Costa Rica and other Latin American countries only speak Spanish. Therefore, we had to learn Spanish in order to communicate effectively with them. Principle: If and when God calls you, you might have to learn a new language.
Myth 4: “Missionaries do not have bad days.”
People think that missionaries are exempt from loneliness because they are always spiritually strong and emotionally stable. However, if God sends you to another country and that means leaving behind your children, aging parents, friends and relatives, don’t you think you’d miss them? Of course you will! Principle: When God calls, expect missionaries to have lonely days. Make sure you keep in touch with them constantly.
Myth 5: “Missionaries love it when things are back to normal.”
We’ve been back in the Philippines for four months now, and people ask, “Aren’t you glad things are back to normal with you?” Sure, we’re glad to be home–staying in our own house, being with our loved ones and friends, etc. But Costa Rica was our home, too. What we did in the Americas was our “normal” for more than two years. And we miss that normal life. Principle: When God calls, things never go back to normal. A new normal is created.
What do you think? What other myths or misconceptions could you add to this list?
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