What is a missionary mother? Here's some thoughts.
A missionary mother is a normal Christian woman living somewhere else. In this other place, she is expected to transcend anything that a normal Christian woman normally achieves. She should be a model wife and mother, unflagging in energy, discipling, disciplining, and (often) educating her children with all wisdom and patience, wiping up bodily fluids as unto the Lord. She must keep a clean and tidy house, and always be ready to offer cheerful hospitality to friends and strangers alike. She should be competent in serving a range of dishes from both local and home cuisines.
A missionary mother is a normal Christian woman living somewhere else. In this other place, she is expected to transcend anything that a normal Christian woman normally achieves. She must regularly witness to her neighbours - fluently, of course, in her second or third language, and wearing the appropriate clothing. She must love and have compassion on every poor person whom she meets. She should treat her hired help like family, and develop a strong and lasting bond with each one, seeing each come to Jesus because of the power of her life and testimony. She ought to always live in harmony with all her teammates, and preferably be close friends with them as well. She should be a faithful wife, supportive (and never envious) of her husband’s work for the Lord, never fancying other men, never snarling when he forgets to put away his toothbrush. Her children should be neat, tidy, well-behaved, not clingy, not angry, have an excellent Bible knowledge, an excellent mental health, and love going to church. If they aren’t, should this family really be in ministry?
A missionary woman is a normal Christian woman living somewhere else. In this other place, she is expected to transcend anything that a normal Christian woman normally achieves. She must maintain good relationships with her far-away family, her husband’s far-away family, her far-away school friends, her far-away university friends, her far-away seminary friends, her 10 supporting churches (also far away), and her 100-500 individual partners (yes - far away). She must report back to her supporters monthly, detailing the ministries she is involved in. There should be something significant to report most months.
A missionary woman is a normal Christian woman living somewhere else. In this other place, she is expected to transcend anything that a normal Christian woman normally achieves. She must have a daily quiet time where she really meets God and comes away refreshed. Her faith should never waver, of course! She must pray regularly for her husband, her children, the lost around her, her home country, each of her 10 supporting churches, and her 200-500 individual partners. She should never be found uncaring about any of these, plus about every person she meets in her normal day-to-day life.
A missionary woman is a normal Christian woman living somewhere else. In this other place, she is expected to transcend anything that a normal Christian woman normally achieves. A missionary woman should be content living at a lower standard than all her peers in her home country. She should cook with less meat, and only drink fresh milk on special occasions. She shouldn’t go to Starbucks in her new country, because the coffee there seems expensive. Her family holidays should be in mediocre accommodation, because even an inexpensive resort would look too lavish in newsletters. She needs to constantly think about how she is a steward of God’s money (or is it supporters’ money?), and so it is appropriate for her to live as frugally as possible.
A missionary mother should be able to achieve this, and all the above, while juggling a new house, different (or no) possessions, a stressed husband, unsettled children, staring neighbours, power outages, all new friends (or no friends), cross-cultural conflicts and confusion, visa uncertainty, new diseases, insect and rodent invasions, riots, isolation, a run-down house, water shortages, wars, homeschooling, unfamiliar food every day, critical appraisals by locals, and an unpleasant climate. She should adapt well. When she comes back to her home country, she should then adapt straight back, not coming across as weird, harping on about the supermarkets, or wearing ethnic clothing. And a missionary mother must not, above all, complain, for a frowning missionary woman is a bad testimony. However, a missionary mother must not act as if everything is just dandy, either, because she could make other normal mothers feel judged. A missionary mother must be perfectly balanced in this regard, so the glory goes to Jesus.
A missionary woman is a normal Christian woman living somewhere else. In this other place, she faces untold challenges. But because of her love for Jesus and longing to follow him to the cross, she does it (usually) willingly and joyfully. In the process, she grows a lot. Jesus meets her and blesses her richly in her emptiness and struggles. She sometimes learns a lot about grace, she sometimes experiences miracles, her prayer life is sometimes abundant, she sometimes receives direct messages from the Lord. Sometimes, she longs to return “home”, but often, she walks joyfully onward in the path he has called her to.
What is a missionary mother? A missionary mother is a normal Christian mother living somewhere else. She is under the same grace, filled with the same Spirit, led by the same Father, following the same Jesus. Subject to the same fall. Struggling with the same sins. Sometimes struggling to survive the challenging lifestyle. Sometimes thriving, and basking in the blessing of giving up a life to save it. Sometimes planting a seed. Sometimes not. Sometimes reaping a harvest. Sometimes not. Sometimes walking in step with the Spirit. Sometimes not.
Sometimes she is overwhelmed by expectations. But sometimes, sometimes, with her eyes fixed on Jesus, her heart turned to the lost, she is invisible, dying, alive, and free.