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5 Lies People Believe About Missionaries

5 Lies People Believe About Missionaries

Twenty years ago, if you had asked me what I pictured when I heard the word “missionary,” I would have described a modern-day John the Baptist. In my mind, missionaries were hairy and dirty, wore clothes that were outdated and odd, ate things that made my stomach turn, and lived a life so holy and different that I couldn’t possibly relate.

Fast-forward 20 years, and here I am, a missionary. And when I compare myself to the stereotypical missionary I pictured when I was a kid, I don’t come close to filling the part—thankfully, honestly. Come to think of it, none of my missionary friends do.

There are many things people believe about missionaries that simply aren’t true, at least not fully. Let’s take a look at five of them.

1. Missionaries are all the same, and I’m not like them.

Before I moved to the field, I was worried I wouldn’t fit in. I went to public schools, I shop at H&M, I don’t exclusively listen to Christian music, and I have tattoos. None were traits I pictured missionaries having. About three minutes after I arrived at my initial training, I realized I was wrong. Missionaries are a diverse crowd. Some are older, some were football stars in high school, and some are hipsters. They are as diverse as the countries to which God sends them.

God loves diversity, and he created each of us to be different. Of course he’s going to send assorted people to reach this ever-changing world he created.

2. Missionaries have to homeschool their kids.

God has blessed me with certain talents and skills that I am proud to use for his glory, but he did not bless me with the patience or the ability to homeschool my children. My kids attend a public school in the country we live in, and they love it. And I love the education they’re receiving. Some missionary kids attend international schools, others have teachers come to their homes, and some moms  teach their children in their homes. Every family is different.

One thing is true­: The missionary kid that I grew up stereotyping does not necessarily reflect reality. No matter how they are schooled, many missionary kids’ life experiences and the things they’ve seen God do have molded them into culturally-relevant, well-grounded, faith-confident people. They aren’t the sheltered, unrelateable kids I so wrongly imagined.

3. Missionaries mourn the life they had in America.

America is great. Hot dogs and hamburgers are just not the same outside of the States, and the Stars and Stripes hold a dear place in our hearts. But many missionaries are perfectly satisfied with the lives they lead outside of their home country.

You may be thinking, “Sure, maybe the missionaries in Europe or tropical islands.” But I mean all missionaries. Although it may be incredibly difficult, by the power of the Spirit, it’s also a joy to be where God wants you. God graciously changes your heart so that you love what he loves and want what he wants. No matter where they may be, you’d be hard-pressed to drag most missionaries away from the people God has rooted in their hearts.

That said, it’s true that all missionaries go through hard times. We all spend days missing our family and friends or some of the conveniences of home. Even so, many missionaries feel more at home where God has placed them than they do in America.