I once heard someone say that missionaries are considered to be more committed to the ministry than even pastors, because pastors stay in the comfort of their own country and culture while missionaries give up everything to serve Christ. This statement was surprising to me, because I don’t think of missionaries being better or greater than pastors. However, the risk to primary things such as life, food and water, health seem to be much greater for missionaries. Here are a few of their stories which I have ran across.
The book “Touched by the African Soul” contains personal stories of many missionary women (compiled by Gloria Cunningham and Lois Okerstrom) who went to Africa in the 1950’s and 1960’s. At that time, missionaries were truly giving up everything. Most lived in the bush and had none of the amenities of home. Several of the amazing women in the book weren’t even married, which means that they went to Africa alone. Now, I must say that not only will I be traveling with the support and companionship of my husband, but it appears as though Alan and I will be living in the capital city of Cameroon. Although Yaoundé is nothing like Orlando, it certainly has a few amenities like a grocery store and wireless internet.
I just completed another book titled “In the Presence of My Enemies” by Gracia Burnham. This book tells the true life account of the kidnapping of Martin and Gracia Burnham. These American missionaries were held hostage and separated from their three children for a year. Their captors were Philippino Muslim terrorists, the people (Philippino Muslims) the Burnham’s had been trying to help for the last fifteen years. During this obviously trying time, the two learned to truly rely on God for everything and to thank Him for even the smallest blessings that I take for granted, like food or water to bathe in. More amazing is the fact that the Burnham’s were actually able to love their enemies as God commands us all to do. For me it is difficult to imagine myself as a captive, but I know that the ability to love my captors and torturers would be an impossible task for me without God.
As you may have heard in the news, three Christian missionaries were murdered in Turkey this past April. Turkey is a Muslim country with a little more than 2,000 Christians. Christians are seen as the third largest threat to the Turkish government. One of the missionaries was German and chose Turkey as his mission field, knowing the challenges and dangers he would face. The three men were publishing Bibles and holding Bible studies. One of the men knew that someday he would be killed; he had already received many threats. In fact, he continued his ministry in Turkey while writing a poem to his future killer. It would be frightening for me to serve in a country whose people hate Christians, but it would take an enormous amount of faith and courage to foresee my own death and yet continue to serve.
I love God and am willing to go overseas where He sends me. I am thankful that Alan and I are going into a politically stable country that welcomes Christians. I recognize that Americans are not well liked in many countries right now. I pray for Alan’s and my safety. I know that I will be challenged, and I ask God for His strength where mine falls short.