Missionaries, international aid workers, and humanitarian workers at home and abroad encounter some of the most tragic and heartbreaking situations on a regular basis. They are constantly surrounded by need, desperation and suffering, sometimes within their own culture and in a context they can relate to, and sometimes in a foreign culture and one that is difficult to understand. It is very important for anyone serving in these high stress capacities to learn how to cope with these situations.
Christian missionaries and aid workers are able to have a faith based perspective, which can help them to rise above the
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sadness and desperation they encounter. Here are a few tips for dealing with these struggles from a faith base perspective:
- Remember that God is in control. This can be hard to do when you are faced with atrocities, gross injustices and the daily struggle many face just to keep themselves and their families alive. God allowed man free will, and the evils that exist in the world are the results of man’s wrong choices. But, it will not last forever. The meek shall inherit the Earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace (Psa37:11).
- God wants you to feel compassion, and to be moved. When you feel moved by the suffering of others, you are feeling God’s love and God’s heart for them. It is not easy to feel this emotion, but you are allowing yourself to be a vessel of God’s love. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mat9:36).
- Allowing yourself to become hardened or full of hatred or despair is allowing evil to win. If you have faith that God is in control, that God loves and cares, then you do not need to become hateful. When you begin to feel these emotions and feelings taking root in your heart, strengthen your faith. That being said, nearly every missionary will experience these feelings. Keep praying about them. King David understood this. He says: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God (Psa42:11).
Give yourself time and space to work through these emotions and to mature in faith. The need is great, and God will give you the grace to keep a soft heart, and grow a tough spirit that can withstand.
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Every missionary in history has faced their own unique set of challenges, obstacles and setbacks pertaining to their mission, and that will never change. The challenges a missionary to Tanzania may face are probably quite different than what a missionary to Japan will face, the setbacks a missionary to Russia experiences are different from what a missionary to Ecuador will face, and so on.
Family International suggests that there are some challenges that they have in common as well. One challenge that nearly every missionary faces is learning how to share the gospel in a way that the people they are ministering to can relate to and accept.
Most missionaries are passionate about their faith. They believe that the message they have to give is the best thing anyone can hear, after all, doesn’t everyone need Jesus? The problem with all the enthusiasm is that it can sometimes make them insensitive to the culture and customs of the people they are trying to reach.
In order to bring people to Jesus a missionary must win their trust, and it can be hard to do that if you do not show them that you understand and accept them. It can be difficult, especially if the cultures and customs the locals are of a religious nature.
Many of the great missionaries such as William Carrey, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, to name a few, put great focus on learning the customs, culture and traditions of the locals in their respective mission fields. They were patient and willing to learn, and this made the locals trust them. They adopted many of the local customs and traditions themselves, and virtually took on the appearance and customs of the people they were serving.
That doesn’t mean that they compromised their beliefs, and they saved their fights for where it really mattered. They were not afraid to fight against practices that were harmful, like foot binding or widow burning.
Most growing families international missionaries today do not face the same extremely harmful practices that the missionaries of old did, but they do still face the need to win the trust of the locals, and show them that they are not there to show them they “know better.”
The missionaries that make the most impact are the ones who take the Apostle Paul’s advice: I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some (1Cor9:22). click here for more about tfi family international
Mother Teresa said “we cannot do great things, only small things with great love.” All too often we put the focus on the wrong part of the equation. We want to do great things. We want our giving, our serving, our efforts to be great, noticeable and impacting. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but the starting point is having the “great love.”
Mother Teresa was willing to help one pitiful leper at a time, and she ended up changing the lives of millions for the better. Many Christian missionaries and humanitarian workers get discouraged when it seems that their efforts don’t amount to much. After all, there will always be another illiterate child, sick child, impoverished beggar, abused woman, orphan, and the list goes on and on to the point that any effort can seem futile.
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This can happen to the first time missionary or humanitarian worker when they get their first taste of the great needs that surround them. It can also happen to the well seasoned volunteer who wonders where all their years of giving have gone, and who have they truly impacted.
When these questions surface in the mind and heart of any missionary, volunteer or charity worker, you simply need to remind yourself that, for those who you have helped, you have made all the difference in the world! Even Christ, when He walked on Earth did not cure all illness, or banish every disease or injustice, that wasn’t even His mission. He simply cared for those He encountered.
The Family International writes: His “great love” is what changed the course of history. And, it is that same “great love” that motivates every missionary, volunteer or aid worker. If you wonder if your giving, either financially, or via your personal efforts, has amounted to anything, change your focus to the love and the motivation you have for giving, and you will remember why you are giving in the first place.
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So You Want to Help?
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-By The Family International (TFI).
Even with the economic downturn, and many households needing to tighten the budget, many of us still feel fortunate to have enough, and are interested in giving to those who have less. The other side is that needing to pinch our pennies a bit tighter makes us more cautious about where we spend those pennies. You probably think purchases through a bit more, and statistics show that the same cautions are applied to charitable donations.
If you are considering giving to a charity or missionary work, here are some pointers by The Family International to include in your process:
• Identify the causes that mean the most to you.
You can’t give to every good cause, so you need to determine what you feel the most strongly about. Once you determine the needs you most want your donations to address, you can go about finding the organization that will best make it happen.
• Find an organization that will last.
You want to research the strength of the organization you choose to donate to. If an organization is drowning in bills, you have to wonder if they will be around tomorrow to see their projects through. You also have to look at their books to see if donations are actually making it to the intended recipients, or if funds are going to meet the organizations overhead. As a rule, a minimum of a simple majority of all donated funds should go to the actual projects the organization is running.
• Trust transparency
You should easily be able to gain access to information about the organization you are considering contributing to. Their financial breakdowns should be available upon request, and their website should be able to clearly give information on their structure, board members, projects, accomplishments and goals. Avoid organizations that are vague or unclear.
• Look for results.
For any charitable organization or mission work, the ultimate proof of their effectiveness is their long term results. There should be data, including statistics, showing the long term effectiveness of their project. Granted, some things take time to get off the ground,
but you want to see signs of progress, and stable results. Don’t get stuck on one story or testimonial of a life being changed, look at the overall statistics.
If the charity or mission work you are considering contributing to holds up under your scrutiny, then cheerfully give your contribution, no matter how small or large.For more information about helping out and non profit work see: The Family International Australia
The Family International works in Africa are varied and diversified, but all are a definite proactive force working to create sustainable development through a variety of multifaceted projects and outreach programs throughout the African continent. From the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, the Family International’s presence in the African continent consisted of a few small mission outposts, however, over the past ten to fifteen years, The Family International ’s work in Africa has grown considerably and now includes a combination of Family missionary bases and centers, smaller missionary teams, and many associate projects in 19 countries and growing.
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The Family International works in Africa
From Kenya to South Africa and Namibia, Tanzania to Senegal, the expertise The Family International members have gained as missionaries, educators, facilitators, motivators, and facilitators is used to bring a message of faith, hope and love to those in need.
TFI projects and programs, which range from the highly acclaimed STEPS character-building educational program to other ongoing rural medical relief programs, student outreach projects to sustainable micro enterprises and endeavors, have received commendation and recognition from both NGO and government experts. The main goal, however, is to do our best to effect change and create a tangible difference through sharing of God’s love and message to those in need.
More information on The Family International (TFI) work in Africa