Learning to be resilient in 2021 Mission Life. How COVID has changed plans for missionaries and the impact of living through the “in between”.
What's Next for Cross-Cultural Workers?
What’s next? This ordinary question, which has been a big part of everyday life in missions, has been turned upside down over the past year.
For the Missionary or the Cross-Cultural Worker, “what’s next” is usually an exciting question full of expectation and hope.
"What's Next?" (Pre-2020)
Pre-2020, the question “What’s next?” may have sounded like this:
- What is the next project? What is the next goal? What is the next plan? What should I ask God for?
- What will be the result of our ministry plan?
- When will we have another conference? When can I be with all my friends and co-workers?
- Where will we send our children for their education?
- When will I be able to see our family again? When will we return to Canada?
- Or when will we return to the country and the people we love and care for, and are called by God to serve?
And then all our plans changed….
"What's Next?" (Current Reality)
Over the past year, and even currently, the question “What’s next?” may sound like this:
- When can we travel? I don’t know.
- When can I return to the country I love? I don’t know.
- How long will I be staying in Canada? I don’t know.
- What should I do now? I don’t know.
- What are my next steps? I don’t know.
- What is my role? I don’t know.
- What should I do with my time while I am waiting? I am not sure.
- What about my children? their education? their dreams? their losses?
What has changed? Our circumstances? Yes! AND our perception of our circumstances.
Did we assume that we could actually predict what’s next? Now we realize that we cannot; we are not god.
We know that our plans are in God’s hands. Most of us want to allow God to rule our days and plans and guide our lives. But suddenly we realize that we have much less control than we thought. All we have is today, the present, and we cannot really plan “what’s next”.
This can be a frightening experience, or it can be an opportunity to live in the daily privilege of mindfully walking with YAHWEH by faith, and truly depending on Him for our every need and every plan.
Ideas for Walking through this Experience in Community
For some of us, this can provoke anxiety or fear. How can we walk with each other through this experience? How can we live it as a shared experience in community?
- Find others with whom you can share your fears and anxieties (by phone, online, or in-person)
- Talk to our Father God about your fears and anxieties
- Admit that you are afraid or anxious and do not be ashamed; remember you are human!
- Ask for prayer
- Read Bible stories about men and women of faith who walked with God not knowing what was next. For example, Joseph in the pit, in prison, in the palace; Moses in the wilderness; Mary being pregnant as a teenager
- Write a gratitude journal. Look for simple things to be grateful for every day
- Listen to each other’s stories of grief and loss
- Lament together (Read the Psalms of lament and write some of your own)
All of us are wondering … what’s next? But remember that the Missionary/Cross-Cultural Worker is caught between two worlds – perhaps feeling stuck in one and wanting to be in the other, not sure what’s the best decision for right now.
Let’s pray for each other that this may be a time of deepening love and fellowship with Jesus, our companion and friend – the one who faithfully obeyed the Father even when he knew what was next … the cross!
Let’s pray for Canadian missionaries who feel “stuck” in Canada.
Let’s pray for children of missionaries separated from their friends, family, and the country where they feel “at home”.
Jesus promised that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He also said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matt 2820b).
Anna Marie is a Missionary & Clinical Counsellor with the MORE Network. She has been married to Doug for 40+ years, has 2 children and several grandchildren and lives in Vancouver, BC. She has provided counselling and Member Care in Asia for 12 years in several locations. Her passion is to help missionaries and their families through grief, pain and loss while in various stages of transition. She understands just how difficult it can be transitioning in and out of cross-cultural ministry. She holds a nursing degree (BScN) and counselling degrees (Master of Arts in Counseling) and is recognized as a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counsellor.