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Through living full time on the mission field, we’ve discovered that a crucial mentality to embrace is flexibility.
Time and time again we’ve seen how things take longer, involve more work, and turn out way different than you ever anticipated. Maybe this is something that plagues everyone everywhere, but it definitely has a strong application to missionaries living overseas in the midst of their work.
If you look up flexible in the dictionary, it is described as “capable of bending easily without breaking . . . able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions.” Isn’t that a great word? It shows resilient durability, anticipation of change and/or adjustment, and the ability to withstand a blow, get back up, and keep going through the tough times. Flexibility is something that keeps one ready and adjustable for the unknown.
This has been a key element of survival for missionaries all over the world. Through the years of separation from family, working in Third World settings, being persecuted for their faith, laboring incessantly to people whose hearts are hardened, being stationed in remote locations, learning culture, presenting the gospel, and translating God’s Word, flexibility is a must.
Looking back over the years, my family has experienced a lot of change, hard work, challenging times, and dangerous situations in our life as missionaries. We’ve found that applying this flexible mindset to the frustrations, unideal scenarios, and times of sudden change makes our lives a lot easier to handle.
But this missionary durability tactic really comes in two components. No one can live like this apart from the most important accompaniment to flexibility—that is trust, reliance, and confidence in the awesome faithfulness of God! I can’t stress enough how much we depend upon and rely on the love, power, and grace of our Lord.
So how do missionaries do it? Flexibility? Yes, but our flexibility is born out of a solid understanding in the sovereignty of God. After all, doesn’t He give us the ability to bend without breaking? Without that conviction, when buffeted by tough situations, we will flounder in the critical moments and snap under the pressure of life on the front lines.
© 2017 Answers in Genesis