We have lived in Bolivia for over 11 years. From the time I was seven I knew I would live outside the U.S. for most of my life. My husband was in high school when he made the same realization. Those initial prodding desires led to practical steps: Praying. Maps as wallpaper. Counsel. Training. Meager living. Extreme serving.
So, what got you to the mission field?
I see 5 main reasons people serve on the mission field.
- Call of duty – a commissioning ceremony, a scripture that spoke to your heart, a sense of obligation
- Itching for adventure – you crave risk, you’re an adrenaline junky, boredom terrifies you
- Bleeding heart – your heart breaks at the plight of the downtrodden, compassion fills your soul
- Way of escape – deep down you know you had to get away, you are running, you are seeking refuge
- Purpose driven life – you want your life to count for something significant, fulfillment
I suppose I might as well give voice to what many are thinking. What about number six? Certifiably crazy. Okay, yes, I can see some validity to that being a common motivator. Right? Smile, I’m just kidding.
Then there’s the fact that what gets you to the mission field might not be what keeps you there. Maybe you are not meant to stay forever. Maybe life happens and you have to move back. Maybe you hate life as a missionary. Maybe you knew this was a short term thing to begin with so you are content to return. Maybe you feel you would be more effective in accomplishing what you feel God wants from your life by being based back “home”.
Those who choose to live as missionaries for the rest of their lives will encounter moments (read: hours, days, weeks, maybe even months) of questioning. Healthy evaluation is helpful and necessary. Putting words to why we continue on in this lifestyle might be hard, but it is worth the effort.
Can you answer with gut honesty and full disclosure transparency in one sentence: Why are you a missionary? Care to share? Dare to share? The comment box is open. Thanks!
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
- Angie Washington, co-editor of A Life Overseas, missionary living in Bolivia