The time has come for us to go. In just a few days we will once again say many goodbyes, uncertain of when we might see loved ones again (or if we will see them again). We leave our home culture and return once again to our host culture. That is the nature of what we do and we are OK with it because we recognize God’s call to God’s work. With this time in the United States comes a time to observe, reflect, and consider. Previously, I shared several observations about the cultural tendencies of our nation (you can read that article by clicking here). Despite those concerns, it can be very tempting to remain, forsaking our obligations overseas so that we may continue a life that could be considered closer to what we are accustomed to.
There are six facets to our community in the United States that makes such a proposition reasonable.
- Created Comforts: The most obvious aspect is the comfort by which we live in the United States. In our country of service, we certainly have not forsaken as many comforts as others and live quite nicely. Yet, there are conveniences that would help to simplify some of our responsibilities.
- Cultural Confidence: Because the majority of our existence was spent here, we already possess capabilities that allow us to freely navigate cultural systems such as banking or medical.
- Communal Construct: Relationships and routines were already once established. The result is that we move freely within groups in which we had common bonds and interests – right or wrong, the result is we were comfortable and there was no need to go outside that for interaction or to reach people.
- Community Crisis: The current status of the community necessitates a need for ministry. People are divided and people are hurting and recognizing that, it is easy to be drawn by that need back into a culture in which we believe God could use us to help.
- Chartered Church: We are not so deceived that we think coming into an already existing church is easier than starting one where there are new believers; but it can be easy to look at churches that are already established and desire what they have or believe that the abilities we have are more suited for that than church planting.
- Closest Confidants: Finally, the most obvious rationale is that our closest confidants remain in the United States.
Perhaps I am more self-indulgent than other missionaries, but it would seem that any of these could allow a missionary to rationalize a need/want to stay. Certainly, they can be a contributing factor, in combination with other rationalizations, that cause half of missionaries to not return to the field after their first term.
Personally, these are compelling reasons to stay in our home country, the United States. However, such a response does not bring the peace and comfort that comes from being in God’s will, not to mention that it would be disobedience for us to stay. I do not write this merely to share how easy it is to convince me to stay, but rather to shed light on the battle that missionaries can face during their furlough. For our family, unless some major unforeseen circumstance took place, there has not been a doubt of our return to the field. It was perhaps surprising though, how easy it is to envy, desire, and fill a need in the United States; but Argentina is our home and we look forward to our return very soon.
Photo by Raul Taciu on Unsplash