When you envision a Christian missionary, you might think about a person who has sold all of their earthly possessions and moved across the world to help the poor.
And while that might be true, sometimes we can elevate Christian missionaries to a certain level of holiness, not realizing they struggle with everyday problems, just like you and I.
As it turns out – many Christian missionaries are struggling with mental illness and suffering in silence – and here’s how you can pray for them right now.
So what is causing the crisis?
Pressure To Perform
Missionaries who rely on donations from supporters often feel the pressure to perform and provide updates on all their “wins” in their newsletter to supporters.
Supporters enjoy reading about the “busyness” of the missionaries they are supporting and hearing about the number of churches planted or how many people came to Christ.
As a result, missionaries feel the pressure to put on a smile and report about their “joyful service” …
… even if they are personally struggling.
Leaving the comfort of one’s home country and adapting to a new language and way of life is not for the faint of heart – and whether they publicly write about it or not – many missionaries do struggle to adjust to their new life on the mission field.
Lack Of Resources
Depending on where they are serving, many missionaries can’t enjoy the ability to go out and exercise or spend time with friends.
Due to safety concerns – many are restricted as to where they can go and who they can share information with.
If they are feeling “down” – there aren’t therapists they can call up and talk to.
Not to mention – many face the very real fear if they share with their local church or sending organization about their struggles that they’ll be pulled off the field.
The Gospel Coalition reported:
“When organizations send missionaries across the globe to resource-poor locations, there are obvious risks. To mitigate these risks and to protect missionaries, nationals, and organizations alike, extensive screening and reporting processes are put in place to ensure the mental and physical health of those they send. This is necessary and good. However, when missionaries are expected to go straight to their employers with health concerns, and when the help received is coming primarily from the ones in charge, a culture of distrust, fear, and secrecy can ensue.
Even when set with the best intentions, the structures to protect missionaries might inadvertently cause harm when mental illness comes knocking, especially if missionaries fear the potential loss of their careers, homes, and ministry dreams.”
As a result, instead of getting help, many missionaries suffer in silence.
So What Can We Do?
Pray for the missionaries you know serving overseas, and even the ones you don’t.
Intercede on their behalf and ask God to protect their minds and put just the right people into their life to help protect and guide them.
If you happen to personally know someone serving overseas, go deeper and ask how you can specifically pray for them, or let them know you are a safe person they can talk to if they simply just need to get things off their chest.
Missionaries often choose to serve because they feel called by God, and this is a commendable and noble act of service.
But remember they have struggles and fears like everybody else, and these are often amplified when they are living in a foreign country and dealing with the added stress of cultural assimilation.
As the body of Christ, we must come around our missionaries and help support them however we can, and pray for them without ceasing.
Will you commit to pray for missionaries serving overseas?
Were you surprised to learn they struggle with mental health issues?
You can post your answers to our Facebook page and join in the conversation with other believers from all around the world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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