Because there is a huge amount of things to do to prepare for moving to a foreign field, it is easy to neglect ones personal relationship with God. Preparing to go to a foreign field is anything but “still” or “small.” From morning till evening there are things to do; things pressing in on you; urgent things that demand immediate attention. Family time is neglected, time with your spouse is neglected. It doesn’t end there.
When you are on the field, there are still a huge amount of things to be done. If you are going to a country where the people speak another language than the one you know, you must spend all of your time learning the language; and it is not easy. Think how long it takes for a baby to learn how to communicate to you via speech. It seems like you can only learn another language slightly quicker than them. With the language the culture is opened up and you need to learn that too. If you don’t, you will be only slightly effective. All of the time spent on just these two essential things cuts into the time you spend with God. When it comes to “God time” you cannot neglected it–neither should your family as well.
Most missionaries go to the mission field right after they graduate. Up until the day they were called to go, they had pastors or Sunday school teachers feeding them the word of God. Where they once had a pastor who determined the spiritual diet and fed them the word of God, they now have to feed themselves and their family. They have to be not only the motivation for others but the motivation for themselves as well. A new relationship exists in the way they get their spiritual meal every day. If this meal is skipped, they will begin to suffer. Many are the times where a missionary reflects back to find out it has been weeks since he last read his Bible in personal time with the Lord. Face it! It is difficult to have personal time with the Lord when you and your wife and children are living in a hotel room or are attempting to learn a new language or live in a new culture.
Believe it or not, missionaries have difficulty keeping their spiritual food coming on a steady basis. It helps to be aware of this so they can “head it off at the pass” so they can recognize this if the situation arises. I have had the communist party leader knock on my door in the morning before I woke up. He had a bus waiting outside of my house to whisk me off to another province where (unbeknownst to me), I was to teach an English class. It is hard to spend time in your Bible when you wake up and “hit the ground running.”
Situations like this can happen over and over again. If you are prepared for them, you can adjust your schedule so that you have your family and personal time with God. If you don’t, then you will suffer with a weak anemic Christian life because you don’t get the spiritual food you require.