Every morning, I make my coffee and sit down to read the news. Not the newspaper, mind you, but the newsletters that flow in from SEND missionaries around the world.
Thankfully, the good-news-to-bad-news ratio is better in these newsletters than in the newspaper. Beautiful baptisms, good attendance at outreaches, many opportunities to engage the unreached in new places. People are hearing the gospel and responding with faith!
But in the past year, as I’ve read hundreds of newsletters, I’ve noticed an alarming uptick in bad news.
Some of it is personal — unexplained pain, cancer, arthritis, elderly parents in sudden need of care. Of course, health issues are common to man, but they can be particularly disruptive when you’re on the mission field and have to board a plane, leaving your ministry behind, in order to seek reliable medical care.
I’ve been most disturbed by report after report of growing persecution against our brothers and sisters around the world.
In Eastern Ukraine, where deadly conflict between separatists and the Ukrainian Army continues, Protestant believers face extreme restrictions. Many churches have been seized, and some of our brethren have taken to gathering in the forest. “This Sunday we will go with the church on a hike. Everyone in sports clothes. We will hold the service in nature.” They carried fishing poles to make their ruse more believable.
In a country we cannot even mention without endangering our ministry there, a national co-worker learned that the police were coming for him. His crime? He told children that Jesus loves them. He packed his bags and fled overnight.
In another unmentionable country, our workers continue to minister, even as the government crackdown draws ever closer. They know they might need to leave. When the time comes, they will be ready. But they’re determined to use every moment that God gives them to keep sharing his love in that land.
These are unstable times. Read the newspaper, and you’ll sense it. Read the newsletters, and you’ll realize that your own brothers and sisters on the mission field serve on some of the shakiest ground.
Of course, in all of this, Jesus remains their firm foundation. And, in service of the Lord, we who work at SEND’s US Office provide the support our missionaries need to safely navigate uncertainty. Secure email that keeps government eyes from watching what they write. Health insurance for when illness strikes. Access to counseling services to help them deal with trauma. Expert security advice. Above all, prayer.
We want what you want for missionaries: Solid support for an uncertain future.