10 common misconceptions about missionaries

Rachel Andersen works among the unreached Gabbra people with her husband, Eddie and their six children. They live in Kalacha, Kenya, an area that suffers cycles of drought and famine. She debunks some of the common misconceptions people believe about missionaries who live in remote areas.

1. We are all adventurous. After crossing a very muddy plain, a fellow missionary concluded, “I am not a pioneer!” He wasn’t someone who enjoyed getting stuck in the mud in a remote area with few resources. He served in the middle of nowhere because the need was greatest in the middle of nowhere, not because of a desire to drive a 4×4.

2. We are all good at fixing stuff. A few years ago a man came to work in a remote area who didn’t carry any tools in his car. He said there wasn’t any point because he couldn’t work on the car and didn’t have a clue how to turn a wrench. When his car predictably did break down, he would sit by the car and pray. He never ended up stuck anywhere for very long. Another vehicle always came along with the right person and the right tools.

3. We all love camping. I have heard fellow missionaries say “Why would I want to relax by camping in the wilderness? I live in the wilderness.”

4. It doesn’t bug us when things break. It is disheartening, frustrating, and demoralising when things break, regardless of whether we know how to fix it or not. What kind of saints do you think we are?!

5. We are super spiritual. It doesn’t take super spirituality to biblically submit to God and say “I will go where you want me to go”.

6. We don’t need comforts like other people. Missionaries living in remote areas love comforts. A cosy chair, good coffee, quality chocolate, or decent internet. All of us have a comfort we enjoy. We often horde our comforts and ration them out – it helps us keep our sanity!

7. We are all laid back. Missionaries living in these kind of places are not usually laid back at all. They are strong willed, submitted to God’s people. They are people who have dug in to God, anchoring themselves to his grace, and who choose to keep on keeping on. We have strong opinions and ideals, based on the Bible and our experiences.

8. We are all farmers or people who can do anything and take on anything. Who are those people? They are not living in the wilderness with us. No one can do everything!

9. We don’t freak out. Crying is a daily, weekly, or monthly thing for most missionaries. Many live with headaches, stomach ulcers, or frequent counselling sessions.

10. We are extra talented. Most of us have singular talents. We are business men, teachers, nurses, midwives, doulas, mechanics, pastors, athletes, artists, builders, and administrators. Most missionaries have marginal talents but serve an exceptional God who uses our inabilities to show his ability.

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