When a couple decides to give their life to serve the Lord as missionaries, their new life brings a whirlwind of challenges that must be overcome with the Lord’s help if they are going to make it. Deputation (especially with young children), language learning and culture adaptation are among the obstacles that they will face, not to mention feelings of loneliness and discouragement.
I love the story of The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan because as he goes through his new Christian life, he is met with many attacks from the devil intending to knock him down and keep him from serving God. The mission field can feel many times like the battlefield and as Pilgrim went through his journey, a missionary can relate with with the places he also went through – the Valley of Humiliation (learning a language and feeling like a 2 year old), Hill Difficulty (facing cultural differences), Hill Lucre (feeling “wealthier” in the eyes of the people you work with), Doubting Castle (when your work doesn’t grow and you begin to doubt God’s calling on your life), The Valley of the Shadow of Death (like Jim and Autumn Roberts who are dealing with Dehli belly in India currently). But as Pilgrim keeps his eyes on the finish line and crosses each trial, he becomes stronger and arrives victorious!
What can a missionary wife do to help her family get through these trials as they arrive to the field and throughout their time there? Keeping her eyes on the Lord and believing that He is going to use their family to do a great work for Him because He has called them will go a long way! As Acts 20:24 says, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” This verse should be very REAL for a missionary wife. If God has called her husband, He has called her to Him and her husband’s calling has now become HER calling. How do we keep our eyes on the Lord? By not counting our life dear unto ourself. We may have to give up the comforts of America, but if we remember the CAUSE, if we think of the ones who would be in Hell today if we had not obeyed and stayed in the place God had called us, our vision will not be blurred!
To be quite honesty, my first year as a young missionary wife in Argentina was difficult as I was adjusting to a new life, no American fellowship besides that of my husband and 2 young daughters. My vision became “blurred” as I got my eyes off the Lord, and for a few months I wondered if I would make it. But God began to show me as I forced myself to draw closer to Him than ever before, that He had a plan for our life. Now looking back, my husband and I can see that His plan was perfect and is perfect and will always be perfect. I’m very thankful that I didn’t let my attitude affect my husband’s ministry our first year on the field.
I challenge every missionary wife as she strives to serve the Lord alongside her husband to keep her perspective right, to not allow the devil to “blur” her vision and to finish her course with joy!