Recently on a trip to Southeast Asia, I was having a conversation with a local evangelist there about the persecution they have been experiencing. And he began to tell me about a call he received about a recent family of new believers. The family had been pulled out of their home, stripped down naked and were being forced to walk throughout the community. Naked.
At first I felt embarrassment for them to have to be so exposed to people who at one point were probably close friends of theirs.
I then felt angry that people would respond in this way, when the families decision has nothing to do with them.
Then, I was confused because most of the time when we hear about persecution, it is surrounded by death and physical punishment and abuse. Not necessarily embarrassment like this.
I asked my friend if he was able to help them or what happened. He said, “I joined them. I drove to the village, stripped down naked and walked with them.” And then he used a verse I’ve heard many times but not in this context.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matt 10:28
We continued talking about how he had an opportunity to love on this family in a new way and how he got to share sacrifices we as believers often have to make. He got to care for them in unexpected ways and encourage them to continue to be bold and strong and follow in their faith and not turn away from it.
Imagine giving up just about everything to go serve a people that you love, have a burden for, and want to see honoring God. Now, imagine that same group of people abusing you emotionally, spiritually and mentally. People you have a burden for, people you have a passion to reach, people you love.
- Wondering what’s coming next
- Explain this to your kids
The stories are never ending of the ways that believers are treated around the world.
Our missionaries walk into these situations. They see and experience things like this on a normal basis. They try and help others who have been hurt this way. They have to explain to the kids why there are so many idols in the country where they live….
This conversation plays over and over in my head. I ask myself how I would respond, how I would feel, how I would recover.
How can you expect your missionaries an ministry partners to go through transitions and times like these and walk away and be the same, not be traumatized, be normal…???
They aren’t always so drastic like this one…
- Mom in need of home school help
- Father dealing with kids who are being kids
- Pastor who needs someone to feed into him
- Wife who needs creative ideas for a date night
- Team leader who needs a safe place to vent
- Mental preparation for a new phase of ministry
- Kids adjusting to new life and new culture
No matter how big or how small the issue may seem, the need for connection and care from our church families back home is imperative.
What does Missionary Care look like in your church right now?