Explore Panel: What was a difficult moment for you on the field and what did you learn?
February 2024

The life and work of a missionary can be difficult. We asked our missionaries to name one difficult moment in their life as a missionary and what they learned. Subscribe to Explore News to continue receiving stories about their experiences and monthly advice for the mission field.

Secondary Trauma

“In our area, we see a lot of hopelessness and trauma, and we walk through it with people. It can result in some secondary trauma for the worker. I experienced one of these moments, and it made me doubt my abilities, my ability to hear and follow the Spirit, and if God is actually listening to our prayers. It took me a long time to work through it, and in some ways I still am. I learned to trust God's plan. I became more comfortable with the mysteries in my walk with God. And I learned to be honest and simply keep taking one step at a time with God. Even though I was working through some doubts, He still used me as I kept taking these small steps of obedience.” 

New Again

“I have been on the field long enough to have quite a few difficult moments, but I'll go with a more recent one.  Last year we moved to a new country and it really threw me off. Our family had been in the same region and working with the same people group for 16 years with SEND and I had previously been there with another organization for two years. I had deep relationships and pretty wide knowledge of the people group, the area, the churches, and what was needed in ministry, but when circumstances led us to move I all of a sudden went from someone with a depth of knowledge and experience to being new again. I didn't realize how much I had relied on my own experience and understanding, but I found myself disoriented and even feeling ashamed that I didn't know things better and didn't have my ministry figured out. God was (still is) teaching me an old lesson that I need to be humble, trust Him, be a learner, and not pretend that I have things all figured out. Based on what some of those close to me say, I am also learning that I can be a blessing even when I don't know all the details of what my ministry should look like.”

Photo of young backpackers looking out at sea

Culture Shock and Change

“After a few years on the field, I hit culture shock. I thought I had dealt with this early on, but after a few years of language learning, I was supposed to start transitioning into ministry. But I couldn’t do anything! I had been studying for two years and could barely keep up a normal conversation. Along with this came culture shock. It hit hard. It was a difficult season that left me burned out and sent me home for a while. But looking back on this time I learned about myself, how I deal with stress, and what tools I could gain to deal with it better. I learned about home, that I have one on this earth, but it is nothing compared to the one that is coming. I also learned that I am always going to be changing; even as I seem to figure myself out, I cannot stop learning because I am always changing. But what am I changing into? Every decision we make is a step to becoming something we currently are not. But are the decisions steps toward becoming more like Christ or steps back into our original sinful selves?”

Friendship and Adulthood

“I arrived on the field right out of university and never lived adult life in the USA. And something people do not prepare you for when you enter adulthood is the transition of friendship; going from being with friends all day every day and them always being there to that not being the case. Then you add, on top of that, moving to a new country where you have to start completely new as an outsider, it can be a lot. I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have already spoken the language and God blessed me with people who cared for me quickly, but there were still difficult moments. I learned a lot about unknown expectations I would put on people, whom you can trust intimately in friendship, and also that one friend does not need to be everything but that we can have a range of friends. I also learned how to prioritize my best friendship with Christ and that He is my one true and never failing friend.”

Have you been following our missionary panel for a while? Take the next step to discover your place in God's mission. Join the Explore Together community. Our next coach-led cohort launches March 18.
Sign up for Explore Together today!


Subscribe now to stay up to date on all our recent posts, right to your inbox!

Connect with SEND

Start your missions journey by chatting with a SEND Coach.


Sign up for Explore, our monthly newsletter to help you discover your role in missions.