Relationships, Rest, Recreation, Redirection, Rescue, Re-Entry
"You minister to missionaries? Why? What's the need?"
Something that nobody likes to talk about is that the realities of missionary life are often very different than the newsletters portray. Many missionaries wind up sacrificing marriages, relationships and family in the course of building their ministry without enough support. We cannot take away the hardships from their path but we strive to make sure the missionaries do not walk their path alone. The desire is to walk alongside those who are on the frontlines and enable them to better serve the people of El Salvador to their fullest potential.
The two biggest causes of missionaries leaving the field early are infighting with fellow missionaries and marriage problems. From our experience, a close third would be parents deciding they need to leave for the mental health of their children. Everything we do from our annual retreats, missionary guest homes, and special events are focused on building and restoring relationships among co-laborers, marriages and families.
One of the main causes of missionary burnout is lack of proper self-care, including times of rest and retreat. As a missionary there is never enough hours in the day to meet the needs around you. Many missionaries fall into the trap of believing that it all depends on them. Studies show that those who do not take enough rest or take times of respite actually accomplish less than those who take vacations and keep more balanced hours. This is doubly true on the mission field where even the mundane aspects of life are often tiring and stressful. We encourage our missionaries to follow Christ’s example of taking time away to pray and rest. We help missionaries schedule time of respite through our annual retreat (The Gathering) and our two beach homes that they can use up to 10 nights a year free of charge. This helps make sure that lack of funds or concern about using support money for vacation does not keep missionaries from getting healthy time away.
Outdoor recreation is important for physical and mental health, especially when living in an extremely stressful environment. Unfortunately, because of very real security concerns in El Salvador there is often very little opportunity for outdoor fun, especially for missionary kids It is especially important to allow missionary kids to feel a positive connection to their adopted land and not feel as if they live in a prison. Our homes are in relatively safe areas where kids can swim in the pool, run on the beach and learn how to surf. Our Punta Mango beach house is in the one of the last undeveloped beach areas in El Salvador, where the husband and wife can get away for long walks on the beach at sunset and the kids can play in the gentle surf. In addition to the beach activities, we have the goal of purchasing all-terrain vehicles to ride on the beach and explore the jungle- filled back roads. Missionary kids are asked to give up so much and face so many challenges so we are excited to give them some amazing experiences to cherish and look forward to. We purposely designed the Punta Mango property with a number of small cottages to accommodate up to 4 families so that missionary families can go together and both kids and adults can play together and build relationships.
Many of the missionaries we work with are at critical inflection points in their calling, and wrestling with decisions about the future. We offer a safe place where they can come to talk through what new direction God is calling them to. Many of the issues they are working through are issues we have seen before and we can help them pray through things and connect them with professional counselors or others that can help guide them.
We are here on the ground with the missionaries and can step in when they have immediate critical needs. We set aside funds to be used for the personal well- being of our missionaries when they have nowhere else to turn. Usually we step in for personal emergencies or opportunities. Because of our intimate relationships with the missionaries we know when there are real critical needs. We use funds to pay for medical care for life threatening emergencies, counseling, major vehicle repairs, scholarships for our yearly retreat, food, education opportunities and expenses that arise when missionaries have to leave the field unexpectedly. We love being able to help connect our supporters with such real and critical opportunities to minister to the needs of those who have answered the call
Often missionaries need to return to their home country. For some, they have finished the race… fought the good fight… and are being called home. Others have crashed and burned and are limping home with their marriage on the rocks and children in need of serious counseling. We seek to help make sure all our missionaries that return home have the counseling and support resources they need to reenter society and their home church. Much like soldiers returning from war, having a support network to help with practical and emotional needs upon return is critical for returning missionary families.