A missionary’s relationships can be compared to a Father swinging his three small children on a playground. He gets quiet child number one situated for what he hopes to be hours of non-stop fun for them all. He starts pushing him while listening to delightful squeals of joy and excitement. As he continues pushing, he nestles cautious child number two into the swing next to Mr. Quiet. The faithful father has to concentrate carefully at first, but he soon achieves ‘balance.’ Mr. Quiet is still enjoying his ride, Mr. Cautious is more content than excited, but it works…so faithful father calls for the cranky third child, who mounts the third swing to take part in an event in which he was not interested until now.
It takes much longer to figure out a rhythmic synching of the swings for Quiet, Cautious and Cranky. Not only that, but it takes a much more concerted effort to keep all three going at once to a level that is safe but satisfactory to all three. Unfortunately, Cranky becomes irritated because he feels he’s getting cheated; thus, he constantly cries out for more attention while growing increasingly less satisfied. The fretful father begins pushing him two and three times before rushing back to the others-which throws off his tempo, thus spoiling the overall enjoyment of the other children.
Eventually, Mr. Quiet feels forgotten and simply climbs down and wanders off. Later, Mr. Cautious, feeling neglected, screams to be let down while Cranky, loving the extra attention, yells to be pushed higher. The fitful father knows that if both child number one and two leave, then number three cannot continue because he will have to stop and tend to the others. He fumes…frets…then finishes his family time, having to cut hours of fun in the park back to a mere few minutes of distraction.
How does this fateful father’s conundrum compare to a missionary’s life? The three children who all need constant care and attention are a picture of his relationships to God (the quiet one), family (the cautious one) and ministry (the cranky one). Ministry loudly demands more time, attention, and resources than either of the other two relationships—and it’s never satisfied! During these times, if faithful Missionary does not maintain the wellbeing of his personal relationship to God and the welfare of his family, he will become fretful, fitful, and eventually have to accept his fate as either or both walk away leaving him with a ministry he is no longer qualified to do. What could have been 30 years of faithful service ends after a ill-fated two.
There is no doubt that missionaries primarily desire to vigilantly care for all three relationships in a way that is honorable and acceptable to the Lord. It is because of this desire the struggle exists…and it is to this point that you and I can have a significant impact!
The Apostle Paul enlightens us in Romans 15 to the fact that we have the opportunity to go to our knees, and with heavy and burdened hearts, “strive together” with them in our prayers to God for them! (Rom 15:30) As we intercede, God increases strength. As we bear their burdens, God provides relief. To what degree, then, do we already “strive” in our prayers with and for our missionaries? May we be faithful to serve by striving in prayer—that they may “with you be refreshed!” (Rom 15:32).
Weeping & Rejoicing!
Rodney Myers – GFF General Director