Being a US stateside missionary is fun and fulfilling, but is also hard work. Oftentimes the things that everyone THINKS as hard aren’t as difficult as the untold things. There are certain aspects we don’t often talk about because it isn’t what most want to hear.
Here are a few of those untold truths the Church should know.
1. Being in the US as a stateside missionary does not make it easier. Sometimes that makes it harder.
When you tell someone you are a missionary living in the US serving, loving, teaching, and preaching the Gospel to other Americans many Christians have no idea WHY it’s needed HERE. They tend to brush you off.
Can I be honest and tell you a hard truth?
Oftentimes our work is about unteaching what the average American thinks what being a Christian means because they have been deeply hurt by the Church.
Does that sting a bit?
I know it does every time I hear another horrifying story of how the Church has hurt someone. The preconceived notion of what being Christian means is a HUGE obstacle that the stateside missionary comes up against. The walls built around a heart as a defense are unbelievably difficult to penetrate.
But Jesus — He softens hearts — but sometimes it takes a long, long while. It may take a long time, but it is an investment that brings us joy.
2. Supporting a stateside missionary may not seem as essential as supporting an international missionary, but we need to support God’s work wherever He calls us. Most stateside missionaries are lacking support financially.
The lifestyle in America where people meet and get a chance to build relationships takes place where money is spent; coffee shops, restaurants, social clubs, kids birthday parties, community events, etc… Going to these expensive places (um hello, $6.00 for a coffee???) means spending money.
Most stateside missionaries do have a part-time job because it is a great way to meet people. The average American identifies their co-workers as their friends, so there is awesome opportunity for relationship building that leads to ministering and teaching.
Honestly, reaching those in the community is worth the full-time effort. A part-time job is essential, but it cannot provide for the cost of a family of four, or even two, let alone the money needed to help those in our community. Many teaching and ministering opportunities are built through conversations shared over coffee and meals in our home.
The hope is always to invite more families over for shared meals so that more investment can be made in those around us. Most deeper discussions begin around the dinner table home and abroad.
3. When we ask you for money we are asking you to invest in the Kingdom right here in the USA! This shouldn’t be an unpleasant experience, but an honor!
It is a joy for us to share with you all that God can accomplish despite a tiny budget. If we are truthful, we are oftentimes limited not in creativity, time or willingness to minister to others, but by a lack of cash flow.
When we ask you for monetary support, we are asking you to be part of Kingdom work. We long for more opportunities to invest in the lives of those in great need in our community. This will require additional financial support. It encourages us when we see God working through us to be the hands and feet of Jesus and it is humbling and exciting when support comes in.
It is an incredible responsibility and honor for us to invite you to invest in the best thing you could ever put your money into, The Kingdom of God — right here in the USA! When your donation comes in it reminds us that this is not your money or our money, but God’s money!
We long for more financial resources so that we can be even more hospitable and generous. So we can continue doing the work God has for us. Your investment into the Kingdom goes beyond just paying bills. You are investing in people’s lives.
Money pays for meals for the hungry on the streets. This provides full bellies and full hearts.
Money pays for hotel rooms for the homeless to occasionally shower and rest. This provides rest and comfort for those that rarely have it.
Money pays for Bibles for the unchurched, unsaved, neglected, and unknown. This provides for the need of the Word of God, bringing it to hands that thirst for it.
Money pays for gas for the poor, single mom trying to get to work. This provides hope and relief to the ones who require it.
Money pays for blankets for the homeless. These provide warmth to those forgotten.
Money pays for toys for the kids without any. These provide smiles and joy to little faces that often have none.
Money pays a babysitter for the parent that needs a night away to attend a refreshing conference. This provides reviving, refreshment, and renews the ones that often neglect themselves the most.
Money pays for a bus ticket for a young girl escaping domestic violence or human trafficking. This provides safety and security for one who does not have it.
Money pays for medicines for the elderly couple that can’t afford them, flowers for the community member that lost their mom last week, care for those that need it, counseling for the ones that require it, and so much more!
These things impact the individual physically, mentally, emotionally and yes, spiritually. They are used as intentional opportunities to share Christ. Opportunities to love. Opportunities to do Kingdom work.
The mission field is not determined by geographical location but by the person or need in front of you.
4. We want your physical help too! Please ask us how you can be involved!
Being a missionary in the US is awesome for many reasons. The fact that we don’t have to learn another language or how to drive on the opposite side of the road is just one of them. We most likely don’t have to worry about eating a part of an animal we aren’t used to eating or drastically change the way we dress either.
Let me ask you, what American doesn’t want to see more American’s fed and healthy? We want more US Vets helped and more stateside homelessness eradicated. We all can help in this, but often in our busy lives there isn’t time — but the missionary — this is what we do.
We need your support not just prayerfully and financially, but also physically. Just because the mission is only twenty-five miles away and doesn’t involve a passport, doesn’t mean the help is not needed.
There are homeless to feed, events set-up, hosted, and cleaned-up. There are children to cloth, people to listen to and love right here in your city,wherever that may be. Look around in your community. Ask your local US missionary how you can help with their next event or hosted dinner.
5. Getting away to travel and visit (or vacation) isn’t any easier as a stateside missionary.
Most missionaries with a para-church organization only get one week of leave or vacation per year from their post. Just like any job you have to check in with your authority at the organization to see if the time you want to take off is available. Often it depends on the community you are serving, events you have scheduled, and what is going on with the people with which you are living life.
This means coming home for holidays, traveling for weddings, and attending other important events are not always possible. Plus, see #2 and #3…vacations? Yeah — living completely dependent on others is a challenge in these areas.
After 2-3 years of living as a missionary, a long respite is definitely needed from the daily hardships. A great way you can help a stateside missionary get to that conference or family wedding is by donating your travel miles to them. Vacations aren’t usually an affordable expense, so donating your timeshare to a stateside missionary for a week or even a weekend would be a welcomed treat!
6. Even though we are in the US among our “own culture” we are still lonely.
Living as a stateside missionary is often very lonely. Yes, there are people you interact with daily, but when you are living against the normal lifestyle tide you’re regularly left out of the fun. The saying is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” but that is the exact opposite of the purpose of the stateside missionary; to exemplify the seemingly strange and alien, but better way to live. This means the making choices that go against the cultural norm…and thus many times relationships are one-sided.
Missionaries in general aren’t more spiritual than others. We forget God is in control sometimes. We sometimes mistakenly push our own studying and time with God aside for the good of the Kingdom work. We forget and rely on self sometimes, too. Just like anyone.
When this happens we have moments we want to give up. We feel like no one understands. We doubt ourselves and the mission we are fulfilling. We give and give, yet we forget to receive. We want someone pouring into us like we are pouring into everyone else.
Sometimes we want to go back home. Sometimes we want our old friends back. We want to be seen and known again. We want the familiarity of our old town, our families, our homes.
Sometimes we are lonely.
7. We think everyone is a missionary in their own community, city, and state, but we are afraid to say that — else our support might stop.
As Americans, in general, we are the wealthiest among the earth. We have more conveniences and ways for entertainment than much of the world, but we are terrible with our time. We are constantly distracted from relationship and needs of others, spending our time on things that aren’t as important.
As Christian Americans, we “should” be better at this. In reality, we are all missionaries in our own way. We are all charged with going and telling others in our influence about Jesus, wherever we are.
The reality is, very few have the specific calling of encouraging and loving others full-time. Fewer have the specific calling to bring aid to the hurting and hungry. And even fewer still have the calling to willingly give up the comfort of familiarity and go wherever God is calling them.
Some say this is what the Church is supposed to be doing stateside. True, but the reality is quoted in scripture; “The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.” Ninety-five percent of the focus of work of paid Church Pastors is within their own flock, not reaching the unchurched.
The need for more US stateside missionaries is real. We need your support.
I am grateful for the input received from the handful of stateside missionaries I know. If you are a friend, family member, or supporter of a stateside missionary please share this with them and perhaps start a discussion about these issues.