WHEN MISSIONARIES COME HOME (Part II)
(Mat 25:21) His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Last week we discussed how to be supportive of missionaries when they come off the field. Our current focus is encouraging the missionaries themselves.
Dear missionary, you might serve a whole lifetime and be buried on the mission field. But then again, for certain reasons, you might come home sooner than expected. Wow, what a change! As you reenter your home country you will experience culture shock. Society has changed, people have changed, and you yourself have changed. As a result, you might struggle with alienation and feel like you felt when you first left for the mission field to a foreign land and culture. You might feel like a stranger, even in your hometown and home church. The adaptability you learned on the mission field will serve you well as you’ll be starting all over again. But God has new plans for you. And the land of your nativity needs missionaries, so your ministry isn’t over yet! You might not get a brass band at the airport, but God recognizes your service and your reward will be great. Move forward in life. Your best days are still ahead.
An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years, and they were returning to New York City to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they were defeated, discouraged, and afraid. They discovered they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions. No one paid much attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, "Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us." "Dear, you shouldn’t feel that way," his wife said. "I can’t help it; it doesn’t seem right." When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President’s arrival, but no one noticed this missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city. That night, the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly." His wife replied, "Why don’t you go into the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?" A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?" "The Lord settled it with me," he said. "I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ‘But you’re not home yet!’" (Story from Ray Stedman)