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Forced to Leave the Field, by A Missionary

Aug 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Missions Coaching - Guest Posts

We were 21 when God called us overseas; we dedicated the rest of our lives to work as missionaries. That’s what missionaries did in our generation.  We worked overseas for 27 years; during that time we worked in a village with wonderful people doing language translation, gospel presentation, and literacy teaching.

After about 20 years overseas, the rules of the mission organizations changed and no longer were missionaries supposed to live their entire lives overseas, but we were expected to finish the “job” and transition into other support roles.  This unspoken rule change led to unfortunate events, unfair accusations and a devastating situation.  We were suddenly told we had to leave the country and village that had become our home.  We felt betrayed.  We were in shock.  We had no idea what to do.  Because of how the events unfolded, we lost almost every friendship with co-workers that we had had for the last 27 years.

We began the process of coping with shock as we transitioned to America.  We did not have what other 50+ year olds had: savings and pensions, job experience or any degree past high school diplomas.  Our college age children helped us transition while we found jobs driving school bus, UPS loading, and selling at Farmer’s Markets.

We began receiving counseling for the first time in 33 years.  Counseling was something the Mission censured for many years and had nothing to offer except for sending us back to figure it all out on our own.  Once back in the US, someone recommended that we also work with a life coach. This was a blessing because he was instrumental in helping us think through ideas and concepts of planning in the busy world we were adjusting to (not only coping with huge change and loss, but also culture shock, survival in a new world, etc).  Our coach reaffirmed us, reminded us that even after 54 years God still had a plan for us, and gave us hope for a future that was very different than we imagined.

Our journey of being broken and reformed to what God wanted was painful, but God in His goodness and love knew and brought people and events we needed to work through the pain. It was important to have a coach and counselor who were objective and Godly; they offered professional objectivity while still affirming us for who we are in God’s eyes as well as God’s purpose for our lives.

We needed our coach’s objective and professional teaching; it helped to validate and cement important concepts.  In meetings with our coach we greatly benefited from the weekly prep forms where we documented accomplishments, challenges and new opportunities.  These were helpful for us to take time to process our weeks as well as being a constructive break from focusing on the grieving process in our lives.

Our coach gave us II Timothy1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” We posted those words all over the house and they are there today, reminding us that God gives us strength to survive and hope for the future.

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