Covid has changed the lives of everyone on the planet in some way. Some have died. Many have survived but with life-altering after effects. Many have lost jobs, businesses and even their freedom. One group that has been/is being deeply affected by Covid is missionaries. Not only has their health been endangered in countries with less that stellar health care and cleanliness standards but there is another sad Covid effect. Many countries are using Covid as an excuse to expel missionaries or simply make it impossible for them to stay in the host country or to return once they have left.
Many, many heartbroken missionaries are being forced to return to the United States in need of: a new ministry, a new income and a new life. They are returning to grown grandchildren who don’t even know them and to voids left by passed loved ones they couldn’t be here to visit one last time.
Please have mercy on these folks! Just because you may have taken a week long “Missions Trip” at some point in your life doesn’t mean you’re an honorary missionary nor an expert on the living conditions of missionaries. Don’t confront returned missionaries and tell them they’ve failed or “run from a fight.” Don’t berate them with all the courageous things that you would have done, rather than return home. Instead, be gracious. Have some mercy on them and help them get reestablished in their new life. Give them some money to help them along until they can replaced the income they lost from dropped support. Help them find ministries, job, houses and all else that we all so casually enjoy.
As an evangelist I am a soldier of Jesus Christ. So is every pastor. We two groups fight daily battles for the Lord, building churches, fighting the evil that is overtaking our country, counseling God’s people and by doing countless other things. But missionaries are God’s Special Forces. They do what evangelists and pastors do, but they do it in a foreign country, with a strange diet, in a strange culture, with sub-standard housing and health care, all the while getting letters from some of their supporting pastors saying, “Here’s what I believe, agree with me or we’ll drop your support.” (Yes! They do get such letters.)
They miss graduations, wedding and the funerals of loved one gladly just to serve the Lord on a foreign field. Many contract illnesses that will plague them the rest of their days. They don’t get much time with children and grandchildren. (Sorry, ZOOM is not the same as hold a grandchild or having one give you a hug and a kiss.)
Being an evangelist has its costs just like being a pastor. It has cost Kathy & I some things. There have been some great sacrifices on our part and on the part of others who serve God in this field. Pastors also have sacrifices and sorrows that few church members know about or could understand. But none of our costs and sacrifices compare to those made by a missionary’s obedience to the call of God. I feel so honored to fight along side of these who really do “give all” for the Lord.
Kathy & I personally support 20 missionaries on our own, above our loyalty to our local church missions’ ministry. Why? Because they’re heroes! Please don’t contact me and tell me about the “Moochinary” you know about. (I hate that description!) Every branch of our nation’s military has it’s share of slackers and traitors. But none of our honest, brave and patriotic soldiers wish to be defined by the worst of their breed. Neither should we denigrate our selfless, dedicated and courageous missionaries by defining them by the worst of their breed.
Let’s be merciful, kind and gracious to these returning soldiers. Many hoped to die on the field where they labored but for unforeseen and not-understood reasons have had to leave their field. Let’s grant them the honor due their commitment and sacrifice. Let’s not fulfill that horrible quote that we’ve all heard. Let’s not, “Shoot our own wounded.”!
Think about it. When a missionary has to return to the States after years on the Field they have to find a place to settle down. Then they have to procure housing, furniture, a vehicle and all the little things that are involved in resettling. Then, overnight every dollar they had coming in stops and they have to find a source of income. Many are past the age where potential employers find them attractive, or where physically demanding jobs are out of the question.
Kathy & I have made it a practice that when one of our missionaries returns home for some reason we add up what their next year’s support would be and send it to them in one check to help them with the cost of getting resettled. I truly do not believe you can be “too kind” to a missionary.
I believe the worldwide campaign to shut down foreign missions is a harbinger of the end times. It seems like we can’t have very long to wait before the Lord returns for us. But whether it is one year or ten we are still supposed to love our brethren to the very last day. There are few greater ways to manifest such love than by being merciful and gracious to a returning missionary.
Do what you can to make the transition from a far off foreign field to this local “foreign field” as easy as possible for a returning missionary.
If you disagree with me remember this: you would agree with me if it was you that made the sacrifices our missionaries have had to make and were then forced to return home. You decide. Are you going treat them as a “Hero” or a “Zero?”