This month we get to hear from Susan in Japan. I am so thankful for her willingness to share from her experience on God’s mission, here in the States and in Asia. Thank you, Susan, for your testimony!
“Missionary wives are not so different from any other Christian wife. The only difference I can tell is location. Our lives are maybe more upside down at times than the average American’s, but when it comes down to it, we are simply women who desire to glorify God and serve Him, just like you.
Here are a few observations I’ve made after being a missionary or appointee for fourteen years.
Ways You Can Be Involved
First of all, we love hearing from our supporting churches. Unless someone takes the initiative to do the telling, we rarely hear any church news. Occasionally a pastor writes quarterly updates, but many times, we are out of the loop for years at a time. We like to know what’s going on in your church (ministry opportunities, upcoming events, etc.), including pressing prayer requests. Sometimes we don’t know a new pastor has been called until long after the event. If church email addresses change, it is very helpful for us to know that, too.
Missionaries need your prayers. And one of the most encouraging things to a missionary is to hear that you are praying. Sometimes we wonder if we are “out of sight, out of mind.” When you write or email to tell us of your prayers, we feel fortified.
If you are a member of a supporting church, develop strong relationships among fellow church members. You might wonder how that helps a missionary, but if our supporting churches are weak, splitting over minor matters, or dying, it affects us greatly! But if American churches are strong, vibrant, and growing in Christ and in unity, all of us benefit.
Many of you host missionaries in your homes. We are very grateful to each of you! If you asked me what you could do better, I can’t think of anything! You all do a very excellent job. Thoughtfulness and basic cleanliness are a plus.
Do you feel that missionaries are super-spiritual saints? Wipe that thought from your minds! It’s simply not true. We are fellow Christians, with no higher access to God than you. I’ve heard people introduce me, and the awe in their voices makes me cringe. When people act like that, it usually means they feel like they could never do what we do. That is not true either. Whatever God asks you to do, you can do in His strength and enjoy it.
Some people feel awed that we would sacrifice so much in order to serve God. We don’t see it that way. (Or we shouldn’t!) We are only doing “our reasonable service.” God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The Christian’s only response can be one of gratitude and joyful surrender of our lives to Him. Not everyone will serve Him overseas. Each of us is placed in the Body of Christ as God has determined. We can’t all be the “eye” or the “ear” or whatever position that seems most attractive. We all should serve God wherever He places us.
The missionary wife needs spiritual encouragement, too. We need to spend time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with other sisters in Christ. Sometimes, when the church plant is new and small, fellowship is hard to come by. Many needy people take and take and take from the missionaries, with little encouragement being given back to them. Ways to encourage a missionary wife may include sending a note saying how God has spoken to you recently, sending Godly Christian music on a CD, sending a good Christian book that has helped you, visiting if possible, or making a phone call or setting up a Skype session.
Helping You Understand Us Better
Many missionary wives struggle with their role – or maybe it’s their perceived role. We feel like we have to perform missionary duties since we’re part of the missionary couple. Where does motherhood fit in? Or wifehood? Where should our priorities be? Many missionary wives I’ve met struggle with balancing these roles.
I have to constantly remind myself that my family must come first. If my children suffer from lack of attention or spiritual direction, I have missed my first calling. I must spend time with my children, investing in their lives while they’re young. The problem comes in writing that prayer letter. What did I do the last two months? Well, I changed diapers, washed a lot of dishes, attacked massive piles of laundry, and told Bible stories to my children. In my human thinking, that doesn’t sound like a successful missionary strategy! And I feel guilty.
In talking with other missionaries, I’ve found that many times we rest in the fact that just being there on the mission field as a support team for our husbands can be a huge factor. If wives are doing their job (cooking, cleaning, caring for children), this frees up the husband to do the work of making disciples. In some cases, the missionary wife is the husband’s sole encourager on the field . . . and sounding board . . . and assistant.
In conclusion, missionary wives are just common people, trying day by day to follow God’s leading. If you feel you cannot imagine what their lives are like, ask them! And maybe one day, if you yourself continue following God one step at a time, He may lead you to be a missionary wife, too! It’s an adventure of faith!”