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Five Struggles & Five Joys of Missionary Life

These ten things tend to come with the territory.

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December 9, 2015

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Check out this article, Five Struggles & Five Joys of Missionary Life: We asked missionaries serving among the unreached about the struggles and joys that come with the territory. Here's what they said.

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Living in a foreign culture for a God-given commission comes with hidden joys and struggles that might not be part of life in a missionary’s home culture—and they might not be obvious to those supporting them with prayers and finances from home.

We asked Pioneers working among unreached people groups about the struggles and joys that come with the territory.

Top five struggles

1. Grief

“There is an unceasing grief caused by missionary friends leaving the field. We also grieve the traumas, sicknesses and struggles of friends and teammates on the field.” – a Pioneer in Southeast Asia.

2. Uncertainty

“Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to make it happen—the big vision that God has called us to.” – a Pioneer in Europe

3. Cultural stress

“There is a regular level of stress that persists when just living daily life because of simple things like heat, traffic, foreign languages, culture, laws, etc...” – a Pioneer in Southeast Asia

4. Singleness

“I get weary having all of the responsibility of everyday life in another culture fall solely on my shoulders.” – a Pioneer in the Americas

5. Foreignness

“No matter how I dress, how well I speak their language, how well I can cook local food or how much I love my local friends, I will always be a foreigner—different, misunderstood, an outsider.” – a Pioneer in East Asia

Top five joys

1. Raising kids

“I get to raise children outside of the USA where kids grow up so fast. Mine are probably immature compared to American children, but I am thankful that they get to be children longer.” – a Pioneer in Southeast Asia

2. Adventure

“I experience adventure, travel abroad and the joys of seeing God work on the front lines.” – a Pioneer is Southeast Asia

3. Margins

“My most effective work (where I see God most) is done in the ‘wasted time’ of conversations (time saved for margin) when my real work is interrupted by others.” – a Pioneer in Sub-Saharan Africa

4. Team

“It is amazing to live in this type of community where we are cared for so deeply… My teammates care about my everyday life, my relationships, my family and my walk with God. It is something that is hard to replicate off the field. They are truly the Lord's provision to us!” – a Pioneer in East Asia

5. Dependence

“Our daily dependence on Him is at a level different than we knew in the U.S.” – a Pioneer in Central Asia

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Pray for Pioneers teams as they seek to cast their nets widely and wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. Sign up for our weekly prayer email.

Are missionaries just colonists in religious garb? Watch our roundtable discussion to find out.

Get a glimpse of what your first year on the field might be like.

Read an interview with one of our candidate coaches, So You Think You Want to Be a Pioneer.

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