Dear Future Missionary, I want you to know I feel you. I see your heart bursting with promise with all you will do. And I say yes, bring your expectations, your passion, your wild and crazy ideas, your belief that you can change the world and anything is possible. It’s what gets us all here, it’s the motivation to leave everything behind and board that plane to an uncertain destination. Because this work of love and justice requires you are a little crazy. We need the idealism and enthusiasm on nights when we wonder why we ever came. Don’t wait.
At the age of twenty-four, I founded a ministry to help rehabilitate girl child soldiers in a war-torn region of Uganda. It was a ton of hard work. I was young, full of idealism and naiveté and I didn’t know very much then about how to build a thriving culture. As people came alongside me in my vision, I became responsible not just for me, but for my team as well. This created layers of complexity I wasn’t quite sure how to navigate. More people meant more pressure, more consideration of other’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, decisions and disagreements. I had the
“Often the real trauma is feeling mistreated, bullied, or discriminated against by our own fellow humanitarians, those who should be there to share the same values and ideals.” –Alessandra Pigni- In general, conflict in relationships is one of the most difficult things to manage. This is especially true when serving overseas. Team conflict with other missionaries and missions’ agencies can be especially devastating. In my life coaching work, I hear stories all the time of heartache, frustration, and hopelessness surrounding these relationships. In fact, a 1997 study by the World Evangelical Alliance found that conflict with peers was the TOP preventable reason North American
It was 2006 and I was sitting in a dimly lit room in Rwanda listening to a female genocide survivor tell me her story of rape and torture. Most of the time her face remained distant, as though she was recounting something that happened to someone else. A fly buzzed around the office table. I could feel my legs perspiring against the wooden chair, the room stifling with heat. A fan whirred in the corner, but I could barely feel it. At one point this woman broke down, she pressed a dingy white handkerchief against her eyes, as though to hide
After many months of writing and formatting, I’ve finally released my very first eBook A Self-Care Plan for Global Workers (Learn to Prevent Burnout.) I’m very excited about this! This project is very dear to my heart. When I was living in Africa and first trying to create my own self care plan, I searched the internet for plans that were specific to missionaries and global workers that would have useful tips for applying self care overseas. I couldn’t find anything. I was like “How can I actually do self care on the mission field? I don’t have access to any of
I still remember crying on my way home as I drove my gray Toyota Hilux truck through the red dirt streets of Gulu, Uganda dodging cows, and children, and potholes. I sobbed my way through the whole story on the truck bed of our grassy compound while my husband listened. The sunflowers wilting in the late afternoon heat mirroring my heart. I had a volunteer who I’d deeply loved and spent time training who wanted to leave and start her own identical economic project, bringing some of our women with her. I felt it had come out of the blue and it was
“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart It was dry season in Africa, the sunflower heads wilting in the heat, thirsty for drops of rain. Somehow it felt strange to be celebrating Christmas in near 100 degree heat. We bought a miniature plastic tree and put it in the corner, but it looked kind of pitiful, like it was trying to pretend to be something it wasn’t. There were no
This is part II of Why God Doesn’t Need Missionaries to be Martyrs. In the first part I talked about how God is not the author of our suffering. This doesn’t mean I believe suffering doesn’t have a role to play in our lives. I’ve written about how desperately we need a theology of suffering. But being a martyr as an act of devotion to God, and acting like a martyr because you think you have to, are two totally different things. Through my time living in Mozambique and Uganda, I learned as Christians and as missionaries we are called to enter into
In my coaching sessions with missionaries and global aid workers, one of the things I find increasingly common is that most of these brave souls are also non-profit or NGO founders, like I was, trying to manage an impossible list of tasks in a developing country. They are carrying the additional burden of running an organization, responding to a Board, raising finances, hiring and training staff, and dealing with emergencies and government corruption. If you’ve ever run a non-profit you understand the stress that can accompany carrying an organization on your own two shoulders. There are the vision and strategy
“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.” -Naomi Remen- I remember after a long, hot day in Uganda, sweat seeping through my shirt, after spending hours in the hospital with another one of the women in my community who was diagnosed with HIV, I would collapse on my bed, face tear stained, so exhausted I couldn’t think about making dinner. The reality was, those days were more typical than non typical. Over time, the
Writer. Missionary Coach. Recovering perfectionist. I want you to know that you are loved and already good enough. I am about helping people move from brokenness into wholeness. Together, we'll make a more beautiful world.
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