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Missionary Myths

Since joining MAF ten years ago, I’ve found there are some myths out there—common misconceptions—about missionary life. Here are some I’ve seen truly hurt the Body of Christ, and a few ways you can help. Hopefully this will get some dialogue started!

MAF floatplane in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Isaac Rogers.
MAF floatplane in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Isaac Rogers.

We are Super-Christians who have it all together. Don’t be surprised when a missionary opens up about struggles he or she is facing. Give your missionary friends a safe place where they can share their faults, to receive the love and support they need (James 5:16; II Cor. 1:3-5).

We find it easier to share our faith than the average Christian. Cultural differences, unintentional bias, and language barriers can all equal one chicken missionary (including me!). Pray for your missionaries, for boldness and wisdom to share the greatest gift they can possibly share (Romans 8:15; II Tim. 1:7).

We live in mud huts. Um, no. Just. No. Living in a developing country is difficult enough without dirt floors and mud-thatched walls. I’m thankful MAF provides housing options that are comfortable (not fancy) and secure. Missionaries need a safe place where they can let down their guard, enjoy time with their family, and simply rest so they can effectively (and safely…thinking of our pilots here) continue serving.

We all preach / do church planting / run an orphanage. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to missionaries. There are so many possibilities today. MAF is a wonderful example of the Body working together to better impact the world: pilots, mechanics, teachers and technical staff serving pastors, evangelists, church leaders, Bible translators, doctors, nurses and others. Pray for the Body to function as a unified body, tempered with love (Romans 12; I Cor. 12-14).

Our marriages are perfect. Add unstable environments, cultural struggles, and a revolving door of community and friends to the normal everyday stress on marriages today, and you get a glimpse of what missionary couples face. Pray for them and for their spiritual growth as they truly seek to honor God with their lives (Eph. 5:22-33).

Our children are perfect. Kids are kids, no matter who their parents are. Sometimes they obey. Sometimes they don’t. Offer a little grace when it’s needed, and try to understand that Third Culture Kids have few places they truly “fit in” (Eph. 6:1-4).

We share a sense of adventure. Most missionaries don’t like change and uncertainty. We don’t seek out “exotic” places around the world. We simply follow God’s leading wherever that may take us (Ps. 143:10).

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As an MAF missionary, I am blessed to have a whole department [thank you, Member Care!], as well as individuals, dedicated to helping me stay physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Many of my missionary friends do not have this kind of support network. Please join me in lifting up our brothers and sisters around the world who are living out God’s calling on their lives.

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