Missionaries often have no friends around to help them.
One of the easiest things for any missionary to forget is to depend on the Lord. There are a plethora of things for the missionary to work out just to move his family to a foreign country. He must use his own judgment to take care of setting up a home (i.e. schooling, housing, transportation, furniture, clothing, health arrangements, appliances, banking, utilities, etc.). It is like moving from one side of the USA to the other, but compounded by being in a foreign country where you don’t know the customs, language or culture. There are a huge amount of decisions to make, but this is not the real difficulty. There is something more ominous than just relocating a family to a foreign country.
Back home when they had a difficult decision to make, they could ask their pastor for some sound spiritual advice. On the field, this no longer holds true. The missionary finds himself in a position where he is directly accountable for every spiritual decision he makes. In other words–he becomes the pastor.
Pastors have a huge responsibility for the spiritual state of their flock. They are weighted down with the accountability they have to God for each member of the flock that He has placed under their leadership. Pastors do not want to displease God in their “undershepherd” duties. This is why it is so important that the pastor stays in constant communication with God. Although they may have other pastor friends that they may confer with, each flock is different. So, in a sense, pastors are alone. They really have no one else that they can turn to other than God.
Whereas the missionary once had his pastor or teachers to help him with his spiritual difficulties, when he goes to the field, there is an absence of these things. He is suddenly thrust into the position of spiritual provider himself. He must learn quickly how to depend on God. Because the missionary is often isolated and alone, (his pastor is many thousands of miles away), he now has to pick up that responsibility of undershepherd. He must learn how to depend on the Lord for himself.
To accomplish this, like with any pastor, the missionary must spend much time in prayer, Bible reading and Bible study. When he was back home, he could easily go to friends to help him in his time of need. If he had a question, he could get a tract or brochure his pastor wrote about the subject. When he is on a foreign field, he does not have the luxury of doing that. He has to do all of the research and study himself. In a way, he is forced to depend upon God for everything, so he would be wise to learn to do so quickly.