Most people who go to the mission field for the first time have never been missionaries before. They have sat under the preaching of their pastor for years, or have just graduated Bible College. They had their spiritual food fed to them on a schedule that was made by others. When they go to the mission field, they have to determine what spiritual food they will eat and when to eat it. Before, their pastors determined everything for them, but when they got to the field, they were thrust into the role of providing all of the leadership for themselves and their families.
A child gets fed what the mom determines to make. As the child grows, the mother allows the child some choices in what to eat. As they grow older still, they ease into a situation where they are determining everything they will eat. Not so with a missionary and their spiritual food. They went from their pastor determining their spiritual diet to suddenly determining it for themselves.
If you are a missionary, you have been in one church after another back home. But once you make it to a foreign field, there is no church for you and your family to attend. You now have to be the spiritual provider not only for your family, but for yourself as well. This is a difficult transformation to make. Where once you were “fed” by pastors, now you are feeding himself. You need to learn to feed yourself spiritually.
When I first arrived on the foreign field, the temptation was to make Sunday morning “church” into a family devotional. This is because it was only my family in attendance; there were not any other Christians attending. However, I fought this temptation and we had “church.” I insisted that we get dressed up in our best, sing songs, have announcements, take up an offering and have preaching from the word of God. Even with this regiment, my family took it casually and the preaching often turned into a discussion. But, I worked on it and eventually my family took it seriously, but it was not without a difficult transition.
Before we left for the field, we all had the same pastor. My children’s pastor was my pastor as well. Now that we were on a foreign field I had become my children’s pastor. I, in turn, had a pastor that I considered myself accountable to, but I had no pastor to feed me spiritually, or to go to for spiritual help. I had to learn to feed myself spiritually. The most difficult distraction for me was all of the work surrounding me in just daily living. Things like: learning the culture, language and relationships with the people. I had to buckle down and get disciplined about reading my bible. I had also brought spiritual books with me to read as well as sermons on tapes. It was a real blessing to me when we would receive a package from the states that had preaching tapes or Cd’s enclosed. I set time aside every day to feed myself spiritually. If I hadn’t, I could have easily gotten caught up in wasting my time in just daily living.