There are ambassadors for Christ
I know this seems crazy, but many missionaries forget that they are ambassadors for Christ. They forget that they are being watched by others. This would not be such a problem if people didn’t have a presupposed idea of what a missionary should be like.
For some reason, churches think that a missionary should live like some kind of modern day “John the Baptist.” They are supposed to where camel’s hair garments and eat wild locust and honey. They should never have anything and never have a complaint about anything. They should accept all of the leftovers the church has to offer and be grateful for what they get.
Missionaries must never forget that the church has a diluted and diffused picture of modern day missions and what a missionary is supposed to be. This translates into an expectation that cannot be overcome. If the missionary does something outside of their expectation, (even being human), that will be remembered forever. Even the most sensitive (and well traveled) of people will not be able to identify with the missionary life. They may have visited foreign countries, or even lived in them for awhile, but they didn’t live there as a missionary. The missionary lives there as an ambassador of Christ. That is much different than going there for a vacation.
There was once a missionary who came to a church where they were invited to stay in the church’s prophet chamber. The pastor told the missionary and his wife that they were welcome to take anything out of the food closet to eat if they wished. Later that evening, they were hungry so the wife went downstairs to the food closet to get something to eat. Disappointed that there was only Top Raman to eat she claimed, “I can’t believe they expect us to eat this junk.” She thought she was alone, but she was not. A woman from the church happened to round the end of the hall, just as this remark crossed the missionaries lips. The church woman cannot remember what field they were going to, but she remembers this incident.
Missionaries are human too! There are times when they succumb to human frustrations. There are times when tempers flair between the children, the parents, etc. The life of the missionary is one which can be compared with “living in a fishbowl:” Everybody is watching what they are doing and listening to what they are saying. Many more people will remember how they act and what they say than they will remember what field they are going to. Missionaries often forget they are ambassadors for Christ, but they are reminded when they realize their privacy is gone. This must never be forgotten.
Missionaries must never forget they are ambassadors for Christ. They must never be influenced that they are on an all expense paid vacation. God is watching.