Women in Mission



Right after my first daughter was born, a very specific and ridiculous lie taunted me: Mary gave birth on a dirt floor in the dark with animals all around and in every picture you see she’s got a smile on her face.


That is some nonsense right there. Let’s chalk it up to emotional rawness and evil’s pursuit of me in a very delicate time.

Recently I was struck by something during our church’s mission’s conference: a Mary moment, just like the one I had after my daughter was born. The videos, the pictures, the materials to stick on the fridge—they’re all of missionary women with a beautiful smile on their face, too. {Just like Mary after she had baby Jesus in the cold. Right? Right.} I’ve been there. I’ve been on the field in a hard place where evil pressed in at every side. There was a lot to smile about. But there was also a lot of darkness.

Roaring Lions and Missionary Women

Missionary women have come a long way in the history of our faith. As they find their ever increasing ministerial footing in new lands, oh how evil must line up to attack! Peter likens Satan to “a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” {1 Peter 5:8}. What lies snarl at the backs of our female missionaries? What temptations breathe all too close? What sorrows make them want to give up and be eaten?

Let’s chalk it up to emotional rawness and evil’s pursuit of women in a very delicate time.

Well, there’s a sentence that accurately describes every woman missionary I’ve ever known. Is Satan prowling at the back of someone I support right this second? Because now I’ve got my mad face on.

If you’re like me you can be fooled by the support pictures on the fridge. Those pictures look assured of God’s call, united as a family or courageous as a single, poised to pierce the darkness. Those pictures look like they’ve got it covered. Those pictures make me think I’ve done my part in helping to get them there.

The authenticity demonstrated at our mission’s conference was breathtaking; these women courageously told us what was really going on in their hearts. It was a privilege to sit and hear their desire to communicate the gospel message even in the midst of their own brokenness.

They need us at their back ready to ward off some lions.

Encouraging the Discouraged

Paul’s letters are full of thankfulness, warm greeting, and love to those that supported him on his journeys. He is vocal about their essentialness to his ministry—how they helped him, protected him, and provided for him. Women of the church, are we doing the same for our missionaries?

I write these words and I’m overwhelmed, convicted, and repentant. Sounds like just the sort of place God wants me before he does a work in me. What a calling if he can use me to keep a female missionary from discouragement. I can never do this perfectly or alone, but may I have the grace to respond.

There is power in the sharing of ideas and creativity in community, especially as we seek good for others. God will give those who aren’t sent what they need to love well those who are. So let’s collaborate. Let’s get the ideas flowing. Ask yourself the question “What would it look like,” and then fill in the blank with a way to love our missionaries well.

* What would it look like to mail blitz a missionary with cards before her birthday?

* Could you send an email every day for a month, with simply a word that you covenant to pray over them that day?

* How about mailing a girly treat, like some new earrings or a beautiful journal, as a Christmas in July present?

* How about rounding up the copies of your group’s Bible study materials and sending them to a missionary who has a hard time getting her hands on good stuff?

* What would it look like for the women of your church to band together for a fundraiser benefitting all the postage to pay for this? {Call me old-fashioned, but love me a bake sale.}

Guess what—the roaring lion passage doesn’t end there. The best part is the promise that follows: “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” {1 Peter 5:10}. And that sounds just like the encouragement our missionaries need. Ask God to show you a heart that needs encouragement, and to move in us for the confirmation and establishment of our missionaries. And if he wants to establish you right on toward a bake sale, I’m game.