Missionaries upend and sometimes risk their lives to serve the Gospel in restricted nations. They are often bold in the face of opposition, while many people in America display passivity in the face of peace, and take for granted our freedoms rather than being grateful for them. American Christianity is uncomfortable with inconvenience. I pray these messages from missionaries who left the comforts and security of their homeland to proclaim the message of Jesus’ love, deliverance, and salvation, will stir your heart.
Anonymous Former Missionary to China: Sharing the Gospel wherever you are is all about leaving the comfortable whether it’s leaving our home or going beyond ourselves. Compassion and caring for people can awaken anyone to go beyond intimidation and our own limitations. We were missionaries in China for four years—that was our commitment. We had a house church, although a lot of our missionary friends had their church in a building.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29 (NKJV)
I felt very safe in China. Sure, there are restrictions, but it’s all about your connections, how you deal with people, and contacts that are important. China is a very safe place to live, not much crime. The communities are so nice, so many people in one place, you feel like no one would ever hurt you.—You’d be in big trouble if you caused a problem!
How do you keep your heart and zeal for people and God, in spite of people’s failings and some turning against you?
Anonymous Missionary Pastor, Nepal: I remember what Jesus went through for humanity. My expectations not being met and people’s poor decisions and sin doesn’t have to be taken personally. It isn’t against me as much as it is against God. I have to turn my focus to fight and contend for an atmosphere in which healthy decisions can be made.
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: Things can weigh on me and if I do not cast my burden on Him I will be unable to focus on fighting. Nasty things happen in the ministry and some cuts are very deep. I cannot allow myself to become toxic and contaminate others. I bring things to God in prayer; keep my eyes on eternity, not on my current emotions. Cast my cares on Him, because I know He cares for me.
What is your favorite memory of pastoring?
Anonymous Missionary Pastor, Nepal: Last year before new laws hit restricting evangelism in Nepal, we had an outdoor concert in which we set up without any prior outreaching and had over 100 visitors and 13 saved. In America we had a haunted house and the following Sunday we had 10 visitors in service from that.
What are some pros and cons to missionary life?
Anonymous Missionary Pastor, Nepal: Many pros pastoring in America; the main one for me is not having a language barrier. Because of the language barrier in Nepal, I have to be constantly aware of how to say things while preparing sermons/ preaching so the translator can understand and translate correctly. This also is true in normal conversation; much of the English language is not understood. It is not always possible to go and give my testimony or witness by myself; I need a translator for many things.
A pro to pastoring in America is the natural ability to understand the way people operate. Yes meaning yes, family expectations. The efficiency with which things are done in the United States makes it easier to plan.
A pro to pastoring in Nepal is the people’s willingness to learn instead of thinking they already know everything. Also this culture is much more polite and willing to sit and talk, even in their own home about the gospel.
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: A con is being viewed as a dollar sign. My family is constantly stared at. We’ve gotten used to it, but some days…
Explaining Jesus Christ and His love for people for the first time is amazing! I also have great favor because I am American. There is an incredible curiosity as to why we would leave America and come to Nepal, so people listen more readily when I share my testimony than they would to a national.
Are you ever lonely?
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: In the States, the hardest thing for me was the lack of time I had with my husband. He worked full time, Pastored and we had 3 small children. I had to release him to the ministry and not allow myself to become bitter or resentful toward people, especially those who didn’t seem to appreciate his labor as a pastor.
Overseas the hardest thing is being away from family, only getting to see them every two years. We have been married 11 years and have three children, ages nine, seven and three years old and have been pastoring five years. Nepal is our second pastorate.
Loneliness comes with the territory, as a pastor’s wife. Relationships are not the same as in the mother church where there is a give and take. It became mostly give; I became the one to support and encourage others. It wouldn’t be right to pour out my problems and emotions on the women in our church. I can spend time with other ladies, but still feel lonely. My relationships with friends in my mother church also changed, mostly because of distance and also the element of not being able to relate. When my sister who is my closest friend was in the discipleship process as her husband aspired to preach the gospel, I had to be very careful how I spoke because I did not want to plant a seed of discouragement and affect their destiny.
When we became missionaries this became magnified. It’s difficult to have relationships with ladies in the church because of the language barrier. I have a deep desire to speak the language, but it takes time to learn. It’s hard to live with the burden to pray for and witness to people while limited in what I can say on my own. Common things we take for granted in America like going to the grocery store and having a simple conversation with the clerk are no longer available. I felt isolated. I prayed and God helped me one night when I read 1 Peter 5:9, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
It hit me—other pastors wives feel the same way. My pastor helped me understand that I needed to keep in touch with other pastor’s wives. It’s a blessing to have two ladies who mentored me as a new Christian and who are now missionary wives to talk to. I’m grateful I learned before coming to Nepal that I needed other pastor’s wives—and that I needed to initiate those relationships.
What is your biggest challenge as missionaries?
Former Missionary to China: Recently they are cracking down on Christian churches in China. Usually what happens is someone in the church gets upset about something, convicted I guess, and they tell the government about the church. Then the government steps in and checks you out. The government just sent a couple back home to the USA, but our organization sent another couple in to take over their church. In southern China, a lot of Chinese couples take over the churches for the missionaries who go back. Ours merged with another local work.
If Chinese citizens register a church it’s okay; they [the government] can control it, but never a missionary. It’s still illegal to have a missionary run a church.The government just doesn’t like churches getting too big.
Like Pharaoh feared when the Israelite population was abounding when Moses was born.
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: There have been a lot of changes in the government in Nepal. Any outreaching, etc., anything outside of the church walls is illegal. Even an altar call inside church walls… We still have a sign up and it’s fine to have church, but if someone complains, then there would be an investigation and we would get sent back to the USA.
These laws went into effect in August 2018. Along with the law changes there has been major resistance and many new converts fell away. A missionary couple here got sent back because a child’s parents complained… that was the start and now we heard over 200 people were arrested recently just for evangelizing
There is a push in culture and by some lawmakers to intimidate Christians, to normalize tolerance and sin, and shut down our freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion in the USA.
Many are ignorant of the freedoms the United States Constitution provides and some seem oblivious to the fact that they could slip from our grasp and be lost if we hold them too loosely. Our freedom was hard fought for by our forefathers and others. We must be diligent to protect them and uphold righteousness.
It is crucial to step through open doors on the foreign field as they can close so quickly.
I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. John 9:4 (NKJV)
What are some of the challenges you face in ministering where you serve?
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: It’s a very different world here. Selfishness is a universal character flaw, but many here seem unfamiliar with Christian principles such as, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you, ” found in Luke 6:3—to look out for the fellow man, to be respectful to all. Simple things like holding the door, or saying hello to strangers or stopping a vehicle to allow pedestrians to cross are not common. Of course it’s easier to love those who are kind and friendly to you, but a challenge to love those who are not.
When you have millions of gods, basically you can choose who you want to serve and therefore are really serving yourself. If one god says to do something you don’t like, just follow a different god. With no moral absolutes, almost anything is acceptable. Dishonesty is normal—better to lie and make someone feel good, than tell the truth and offend.
We were recently taking to a Nepali man and he said, “In all the arranged marriages I’ve never seen one divorce.” My husband asked him, what about affairs? He answered “Affairs are common, Nepali men think they can do anything.” I believe the issue is that it is not challenged. Sex trafficking and abortion are both issues too.
Marital physical abuse and child abuse goes on without confrontation. Many try to keep things hidden because they do not want to be shamed, but as it hasn’t been enforced by government to be wrong so it continues.
Reincarnation has produced a lessening of human value. They believe when they die they just go to the next stage. This is beginning to change in the culture but it is still very strongly ingrained.
The caste system is deeply rooted in Hinduism. It empowers those who are of a higher caste and oppresses the lower caste. The mentality is fatalistic—in a past life they did something to deserve being high caste therefore it does not matter how they behave in this life—they’ve earned it. So they expect respect from others and no one to tell them they are wrong.
The low caste feel they can never rise above the level they are at, so why try? Might as well behave as low caste. Because of that fatalistic mindset, when negative things happen to others, they believe they deserved it because of something they did, so compassion is very lacking.
Now to balance this. Nepalese are very friendly one on one and have been very helpful to us. But we do know that in the caste system we are considered higher caste due to our fair skin. Regular interactions between Nepali are courteous. But they do not share details of their lives even with people they’ve known for years. Trust takes a long time to build.
Nepal works on a shame and honor scale. Because of this much crime is lessened, theft and killing is pretty low. They are afraid of being disowned by family if caught by police. But when someone gives their life to Christ—many times they are cut off from their family because they shamed the family. Nepalese are taught to never change their caste, (not marry someone of a different caste) or change from the Hindu religion.
The hope we share with people when presenting the gospel is that:
God cares a great deal for each person. 2 Peter 3:9
That God has a unique plan for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11
We are not just simply another person who lives and dies. He knows the very details of our lives. Luke 12:7
He is our Heavenly Father who doesn’t want to hurt us. Matthew 7:11
Then of course God so loved us- He sent us Jesus to pay the price for our wrongdoing with His blood, so we do not have to pay the price. John 3:16
In Hinduism they make sacrifices for atonement. But only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sin and forgive us. Only Jesus can cause the inward man to be transformed and reborn to a nature like His.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
What can people do to bless you while you serve overseas and when you are home on furlough?
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: When people share their genuine concern with prayers, not just a generic “help so and so,” which we are still grateful for, but the details. It’s as if God is putting our specific needs on people’s hearts that they are unaware of—the Holy Spirit interceding for us. One lady was unaware of the legal climate in Nepal, yet felt God put us heavily on her heart right around the time it was most crucial. She said every day she’s been praying for us since.
It is helpful when people take interest, make the effort to ask us how things are in Nepal—not try to relate, but just listen. We do enjoy sharing our experience but many seem not interested in hearing and don’t ask. That’s hard. We tried to not talk about it as much, but that’s pretty much what our lives are. We can’t relate to the public school conversations, or many concerns people face in the United States of America because we live in a third world country. This is the same for our children. Just saying, “Tell me about Nepal,” would be great so the kids could share and express their feelings—whether negative or positive. Even thanking the kids for going really helps them. They feel as if they are missing out on so much of life because they are away, but when others tell them what they are involved in is very important, it encourages them.
Simple gifts of things we can’t get overseas, Starbucks gift cards, and especially the candy for our kids was greatly appreciated. A thoughtful family planned activities with our kids and took time to engage with them. I’ve heard it said, “The best way to bless a man is to bless his wife.” To me, the best way to bless a mom is to bless her children.
Was it difficult to leave the mission field and re-adjust to life here in America?
Former Missionary to China: One thing that was interesting to readjust to when we returned home to the USA is while overseas we were surrounded by a foreign language spoken all the time, so we tended to tune out! When I got back to New England it was overwhelming to understand everyone around me, and also they spoke in my native tongue—Boston accent! (I also lived in Arizona for 12 years and that was like a foreign country to me too! Ha!)
That reminds me of a friend who migrated to the USA and burst into tears at the grocery store because the choices overwhelmed her. “I just want chicken!” she said.
It’s always difficult to leave a place you’ve called home for any period of time. You miss people you call family and their culture. A quote I can relate to is, “there is always something you miss, wherever you are.”
There’s such revival in China right now.
How do you define revival?
Revival is more churches planted, more Chinese becoming pastors, churches growing and missionaries staying for the long haul.
What is your vision, your hearts desire to accomplish in Nepal as a country, in your church, and in yours and your kids’ lives?
Missionary Pastor, Nepal: Our vision is to leave a legacy of who God is and what He is able to do in people’s lives. Not a work of man, but a work of God. As far as practically, to see disciples raised up to reach their nation for Christ.
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: My vision for Nepal is to see couples rise up to stand against the culture and proclaim God’s culture—Christian culture—as revealed in the Bible. It will be a great joy to see couples stand and aim their lives toward the great commission. A thriving church planting center in Kathmandu that will even send churches to other countries less developed than Nepal.
In my children I hope they grow an appreciation for what they have as Americans but even more an appreciation that the gospel changes every nation it’s taken to. I long for them to see revival that will shape the rest of their lives and birth a strong love for people.
For myself, I want this period of time to enlarge my heart for people, for an increased burden for the lost. I desire a heart more like God’s; to see the person behind the culture they have been shaped by. When people get saved and God shapes them, they are easy to love. Once we experience God’s love we know how to love others.
Would you go again?
Former Missionary to China: Most assuredly I would go again! I gained so much truth and hope and came back with joy and peace! Biggest adventure of my life to know I could do something I never dreamed of doing and being stretched more than imaginable but also gaining friendships and a love for a place that will forever be with me. On to my next adventure—good ole New England!
Anonymous Missionary Wife, Nepal: My favorite thing about being a missionary wife is seeing people receive Christ as their savior and knowing that our obedience made that possible. It never gets old! To see God take broken people and restore them is such a rewarding endeavor to be involved in. It’s so worth it all! Thank God that He uses common ordinary people like us for His purposes.
Thank you for your courage and your heart. It is an inspiring, humbling privilege to share the stories of the pastors and wives featured throughout this series—to help your hearts be heard. You are an altar call to me.
May your words jar many out of complacency and awaken the slumbering Church as to what God has called each of us to—whether to give, send, or go. I pray we recognize the season and embrace, uphold, and protect the opportunities and freedoms God has graced us with. All are called to pray, encourage, and to share Jesus—the only lasting hope for this world and for eternity.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 (NKJV)
A Series of Interviews with Pastors & Pastor’s Wives
Part 12: Messages to Missionaries
Part 8: The Preacher and the Writer
Part 7: A Preacher’s Kid Speaks
Part 3: Life as a Pastor’s Wife
Part 1: If My People
You can read part 1 of my 2018 series of interviews with pastors & pastor’s wives, If My People, HERE
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© 2019 Rachael M Colby Tattoo It On Your Heart