WHILE THEY ARE ABROAD
Your person has now lived abroad for some time and is beginning to settle into life. They have a home, begun making local friends, can speak some of the local language, and they have started ministry. The newness of their location has worn off and they are starting to feel more at home and life feels more “normal.” However, this season can also be challenging as culture shock sets in and they begin to miss their friends and family. Ministry wins and challenges can be common during this season. This season, especially, will be unique to each individual and ministry context.
What does this season look like?
- Participating in ministry and making more local friends and contacts
- Experiencing both ministry “wins” and hardships
- Continuing in language study and using the language more and more
- Feeling more at home and having an established routine
- Learning language in greater depth, understanding culture through the language
- Often the “ministry” is learning the language and culture
What are common emotions of this season?
During this season, it is common to feel a range of emotions. These emotions can often feel in contrast to one another and your person may be feeling some or all of these emotions at the same time.
- Life has begun to feel “normal” and your person is likely settled into a routine and has built relationships with locals.
- Their location has become their home.
- After a time it is common to miss their home culture, family, and friends. What was once new and exciting may now be annoying and actually cause them to long for their home culture more.
- As they begin to learn the language and culture, they may feel victorious for how far they have come.
- Ministry may be more robust and they can be encouraged that God has given them opportunities to do the work they joined staff to do.
- God may be revealing fruit in their ministry and they are able to see the ways in which God has given them favor.
- Inevitably there will still be struggles with language and cultural situations and this can lead to frustrations with their location, the people, and/or themselves.
- There also might be a perceived (or real) lack of day-to-day ministry happening and that can feel discouraging.
Thoughts from our staff:
“We received a small sheet of paper that was a record of dates when someone prayed for our family. My husband’s parents’ church had a prayer room available for anyone to pray. When they prayed for us, they wrote down their name and date. When the paper, the size of a bookmark, was full, they mailed it to us with a card. That desire to feel remembered was fulfilled by that little bookmark sized paper and fueled our hearts just when we needed it.” —Jenny, stateside field staff
How can I pray during this season?
- Pray for perseverance as the “honeymoon stage” has worn off and they experience culture shock and other potential disappointments.
- Pray for continued progress in language.
- Pray for depth in relationships both with locals and other expats.
- Pray for continued financial provision.
- Pray for ministry opportunities and for favor as they meet more and more people.
How else can I offer support?
- Continue to reach out to them and remind them you are still praying and thinking about them.
- Read their ministry updates and respond with an encouraging note.
- Learn about the country/culture they are in and ask questions about what you learn.
- Keep informed with news and current events happening in their location.
- Inform them about news, current events, and ordinary things happening in their passport country and in your life so they know what is going on with you, too.
Helpful truths and Scripture for this season:
*Reminding your person of God’s truth and promises is the best way to support and care for your person. As you pray and listen to them, ask God for His words to share with them. These are some helpful places to start.
- “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” —Galatians 6:9
- “‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred time as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” —Mark 10:29-30
- “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” —2 Corinthians 9:8
- Psalm 16