Most of us love to have missionaries come to our church to speak about the work they are doing…. But most of us don’t think about what these missionaries have had to do before they get to the church building, or what they will do when they leave… out of sight, out of mind…we’re all a bit guilty of that from time to time…
In truth, the preparation and execution of a trip to the states to visit their supporting churches is overwhelming. First of all, many of them are going from the field one day, where they are in full-time ‘work mode’ to a plane flight that takes them way out of their time zone, still dragging their cares and worries for what they leave behind, into an entirely different culture, often a complete turnabout in weather, and immediate flurry of activities and expectations.
Somewhere in all this, they have to find time for the mundane process of packing for the unexpected events and weather, organizing replacements for their work on the field, financing the travel expenses, dealing with changing currency, travel papers, immunizations, and often while juggling the needs of their children…. These are just the ‘facts of life’ of the situation…
What occurs to us is that on top of all this and more, (but rarely less) the missionaries have the upcoming worries of what to do when that plane lands here in the States…. If you’ve ever had to rent a car or deal with housing while traveling, you can empathize. Now imagine dealing with it while you’re living in Papua New Guinea, or China, or Ghana, West Africa! It has to be overwhelming!
So the missionary gets to the airport… and rents a vehicle for a sizable chunk of change, and finds out our gas prices have skyrocketed since he or she was last in the states… and the thought that it may be better to just try and somehow purchase, and later sell, a vehicle runs through their minds while they make their way to the place they will be staying.
And where will they be staying? Often missionaries stay with families when they have relatives in the area… often a church will have a home set aside for their use, and often they stay in the homes of those who have graciously offered to open their doors to them. All of these are wonderful options.
The difficulties are when there is no family in the area… or the church has no home… Host homes are wonderful, but have some setbacks. Missionaries report that over the years homes have been offered less and less, perhaps because people have such busy schedules, or feel the need for privacy, or have other concerns…. Also, when you move one family in with another family, you have the constant give and take that adds stress to the situation. If the host family wants to run out to do something, should they take the missionary family? If the missionary family wants to have time alone, are they offending the host family? The missionary family is not really “at home” in this situation, and that’s what we’d like to provide, a home to be at home in.
Somehow, missionaries have to find time; time for their state-side families and friends, time to go over their presentations and organize their pamphlets and information, time to schedule and visit churches, time to do the normal eating and sleeping, time to talk with everyone at everyone else’s request…. So where, from the moment they leave the field to the moment they return to it with all it’s work and expectations, do they find any time to be alone with God?
The Valley of Baca can be a home to be ‘at home’ in. Where missionaries can have their children and pets, their own schedules and rules, their own food stuffs, and hang clothes up, even if it’s only for a few days…
Our Mission is to provide not only that home, but a quiet retreat for whatever time is needed, with quiet areas to walk and sit and just ‘be still’.
Christians, if we don’t find a way to give missionaries some ‘down’ time… and a place to recharge, we are doing them a disservice… And missionaries are just people, too. They can burn out and leave the field from the stress of their lives. How do we replace such resources when we know we’re not in any position to relieve them in their precious work?