The Hardest Day for a Missionary

The goal of my blog is to communicate on some level the reality of the field in order to dispel romantic notions that so often confuse the American’s concept of foreign missions. In doing so, I must honestly address some of the difficulties missionaries face. But it is in those moments the Lord’s presence is most intimately felt…

What is the hardest day for a missionary? Yes, we go through difficulties here on the field. There are robberies, kidnappings, and physical dangers. There are strange tropical illnesses and parasites. There are problems in the ministry at times; no one volunteers to fill a need, gossip runs rampant, or new Christians succumb to old sins. There are power and water outages. There are cultural frustrations. But really, that’s all just a part of life.

The hardest days for a missionary are those in which he realizes once again exactly what he has given up by going to the foreign field. For a missionary wife, it's being pregnant and not going shopping or decorating the nursery with her mom. It’s getting a phone call that your sister has miscarried, and you aren’t there to cry with her. Or it might be like the day one year ago, when my dad called me and told me he had cancer.

I felt like I was walking through a fog for days. I kept functioning, but could think of almost nothing else. I just wanted to be with my family and felt guilty for not being there to support my parents in the way that my sister was. I was numb with shock and grief, and helpless to do anything.

I had a big event planned for the ladies’ of our church that weekend. We had invited the ladies from another church to attend a meeting, and their pastor’s wife taught the lesson. The whole event ran smoothly. I smiled, shook hands, led the singing; but I felt dead inside. I was just going through the motions, getting through another day until I could go home in November for the surgery.

As I was saying my goodbyes after the meeting, Jenny Alvarado (wife of Alex from "Not All Heroes Wear Capes") slipped something into my hand. “I don’t know what this is, but Kevin was working on it all afternoon. He wouldn’t let me see it.” Her ten year-old son Kevin was in my children’s class and his little brother Jonathan was Claire’s age.

After the ladies had filed out to the bus, I glanced down at the hand-made envelope she had handed me. I pulled out the letter written on notebook paper and read:

Christine, I am very sorry for what your dad has but I know you trust and have faith in God. If you have faith in God, God is going to help him and do a miracle so that everything will be all right. And I am going to pray that your dad is healed. Also, I am going to pray for your trip that it goes well for you, Pastor Robbie, and your Princess Claire.
We love you very much and we are going to miss you too much. God bless you.

With affection, Kevin and Jonathan

For my friend Christine

I smiled at his thoughtful words and started to put the note back, when I noticed a drawing he had done on the back side of the envelope. There was a series of stick figures standing hand in hand, labeled “Dad, Mom, Kathleen, Christine, Andres (Robbie’s Honduran name), and Lissi (Claire’s Honduran name). Over our heads hung dark clouds, symbolic of the cancer looming over our lives. But descending down out of that last cloud to grasp Dad’s hand was la mano de Dios, “the hand of God.”

Tears streamed down my face and joy filled my heart. I was not alone. God was holding our hands, joining us across the miles. He had used a child to remind me of a simple yet profound truth. He just wanted me to cling to His hand.

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.
5 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for sharing that! I need to remember that so often that He is holding our hands, even across the miles! Stephanie Feaster

  2. Kathy Says:

    Wow! Another excellent blog. Even though I knew the story and saw the drawing, you make me cry again at your telling. The assurance of His hand on us all is a reminder we need. And now we know Kevin's prayers were answered! Your daddy, my little brother, WAS healed. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

    In His Grip Together,
    Aunt Kathy

  3. Gwen Says:

    I can't believe it's almost been one year since Dad's surgery. It was a tough time but God is so good and He brought us through it. I'm very thankful that He allowed you all to be here. Having everybody here during the surgery made it so much easier.

    Love you,

  4. Ricky Says:

    It IS in the valleys that I am more aware of His hand. That unseen hand of His not only holds us in protection, but also in provision and nourishment. When we experience this in real life, then we can truly rest--content with His will. Like Bert says, "Either way we win." Psalm 23 always seems to touch my heart. I see the Good Shepherd holding His lamb in the crook of His arm with the staff of protection in the other hand. Our God is a good God. I thank the Lord for you, Kathleen, Claire, and Kevin. Oh, yeah, and for the two men that you both married that left me the cats all these years.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Even though I had seen the drawing, I sit here at my computer with tears in my eyes. I appreciate your blogs and a reminder the God is always in control and continues to hold my hand. I wish that I could still be in Honduras to help. I am still there in spirit. I enjoy getting a chance to see your sister and sit in her Class. She has such a sweet personality.

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