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Coaching Mission Marriages: What We’ve Learned by Jeff and Jill Williams

Mar 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Missions Coaching - Guest Posts

Bert and Cindy met at a U.S. seminary.  After a whirlwind courtship, often conducted by telephone and Skype between his Midwest U.S. hometown and her South American home country, the couple married and moved to her country to plant churches.  The stress of being newlyweds combined with culture shock and a language barrier threatened to overwhelm the new couple.  It wasn’t long before their starry-eyed dream of life together as a mission couple had become a nightmare.  It was then that they asked for Marriage Coaching[1]. Simply having us come alongside to listen and care helped them to begin to stabilize their situation[2]

Has God put mission couples on your hearts and in your path?  If so, we have a few tips about how to be helpful when mission couples trust you by sharing their challenges, disappointments and fears.

Give the Gift of Listening. Mission couples are some of the most relationally isolated couples in the world.  They are geographically distant from friends and family, and the nature of their work is to give, not to be served.  It is not uncommon to hear that we are the first or only couple with whom they talk openly.  The simple gift of loving listening from our hearts conveys compassion, care and worth to chronically tired, lonely and beleaguered servants.

Ask What They Want.  Mission couples consistently serve the needs of others, not themselves.  Few people ask how they can be served.  Simply asking how you can be helpful is like a cup of cool water to a desert traveler.  Repeatedly asking them what they want for their marriage and their ministry is a great way to begin to understand the desires of their hearts.  Ask, “What would you like to start or stop happening, or to happen more or less in your marriage and your ministry?”  Make sure to give each partner equal opportunity to share their desires.

Be Flexible.  Time zones, cultural differences, technology issues (absence of or low quality internet access) and demanding travel schedules conspire to interrupt scheduled coaching sessions.  Remember, you signed up to serve servants.  The ministry of coaching is about serving others where they are; NOT demanding them to serve the process.

Be Confidential.  What mission couples share with you must remain private.  These leader couples are placing a lot of trust in you, especially those living in closed countries where evangelism is illegal.  Take care to protect both the identities of mission couples and refrain from discussing their circumstances with others. This cannot be stressed enough. One slip can put mission couples in danger and blow your credibility as trustworthy coaches. 

When you have the privilege of serving mission couples please hold the opportunity as sacred.  As you care for these couples with Godly heart and skill, you effectively hold and care for all others they influence.  Keep that in mind as you invest and sacrifice time, money and convenience in order to connect with and care for these wonderful care-givers.

1               Effective coaching of mission marriages in crisis requires a repertoire of skills to help couples resolve conflict, share honest feelings, prevent misunderstandings, and to have difficult and emotional conversations.  These are skills that any couple can learn to use in their own marriage and to teach others through Marriage Coach training.

2               This is a composite story.  Names and locations have been altered to protect identities.  Any resemblance to a couple living or dead is accidental.


Jeff and Jill Williams coach, write, speak and conduct training in Marriage Coaching.   Marriage Coach training tele-classes are available to any couple in the world with a phone and internet connection. To date, couples from 22 U.S. states and 7 countries have been trained.  Write to  or call 301-515-1218 for more information.

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