Moment of truth: One of the most difficult things about missionary life is often…
Missionary colleagues, while they often look similar to you and may hail from the same country, come from many different backgrounds and values. They’ve got different ways of disciplining and educating their children.
Let’s face it. On the mission field, your expat friends are often chosen for you as the population can be rather small.
During our time in Africa, we have had some wonderful friends and colleagues. But there’s also been tension, discord–which could have could have sent us home or ruined our message of Jesus’ love.
There’ve also been times where we got along well with each missionary family or unit–but they didn’t get along with each other.
Sometimes one family would take us into their confidence to share the problems and difficulties of another family. Then we would hear it from the other side later.
When you live in close proximity with a small group of people, it’s easy to take offense at small stuff. (If one missionary family invited the other for dinner, we’d wonder why we weren’t invited too.)
Misunderstandings arose when we thought decisions we made were criticized–or resources we thought were ours would go to someone else. At times we’d feel slighted when others received praise and we didn’t. (Sounds like life with…humans.)
We found that a lack of forgiveness caused huge repercussions in our life and ministry and in the lives and ministries of our fellow missionaries. When we began to take offense, innocent incidents began to bring offense.
It was a little to easy to see fellow soldiers as the enemy.
And the Real Enemy Is…
During the worst times for us, God brought to mind II Corinthians 2:10-11:
And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,. in order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes.
Often we were unaware of the schemes of Satan, thinking volatile emotions we experienced were of our own making. Our lack of forgiveness was Satan’s way of outwitting us.
I’m sure Satan was tickled pink by our time and energy spent bickering over how to accomplish the goal instead of working together to reach that goal.
Holiday times are perfect times for our real Enemy to outwit us. He loves to cause irritation in family relationships, or magnify the natural loneliness we feel when away from loved ones.
ideas to remember in your relationships with other missionaries
- When frustrations arise, you are normal! Working together in a fishbowl is hard especially when your friends have been chosen for you.
- Recognize Satan’s schemes. How has he lied and manipulated this situation? Claim victory over him!
- Forgive no matter the offense. No matter if the other party recognizes the offense.
- Don’t let Satan outwit you. You are not unaware of his schemes!
Gala Dallmann raised five children in three different African countries over 20 years (whew). Her husband John is a water engineer who brought clean water to many remote villages. In her words, their ministry consisted of “baby wipes and water pipes!” She now writes from Colorado Springs, where they serve with Engineering Ministries International.