“It’s really heartbreaking,” she said, shaking her head. Her eyes were filled with sadness, and something else…frustration.
The noise of the café hummed behind us as we sat talking over our lunch of deli sandwiches and iced tea. I hadn’t seen her in a very long time, and her unexpected house guest had kept her busier than usual, making it hard for us to find time to get together and catch up. A missionary friend of theirs recently moved in, finding their home a safe refuge as he tried to put the pieces of his life back together and return to the work he’d left behind overseas.
“I wish I knew how to help him,” she continued. “It’s so hard to see him like this, and know that it probably could have been prevented.”
She was right. There was a good chance it could have been prevented, but it’s hard to help someone avoid a painful trial like divorce when they won’t share the pain they are going through before it’s too late. That was the case for her friends, a couple ministering overseas as missionaries…until it all ended in a surprise divorce. The wife hadn’t been prepared for the reality of life overseas, or on full time mission. The pain and resentment built up until she couldn’t take it anymore, and left. He came home to try to win her back, but it was too late. The divorce papers were already on their way. She was done.
“If only she’d said something before…” my friend lamented.
If only she’d had a counselor available, I thought.
A good marriage counselor, or family therapist could have helped this young woman work through her feelings and difficult emotions. In counseling, she could have explored her alternatives with someone who could help her find ways to give words to her painful emotions. Learning to communicate with our spouse is difficult in the beginning, but even more so when the two of you are on mission thousands of miles away from your support systems. Add to that the stress couples in ministry often feel to pretend everything is perfectly wonderful between them in order to set a good example, or to convince those who pay their paycheck each month that everything is fine, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Even if they wanted help, who could they trust to be both helpful and discreet as they work through their issues thousands of miles away from the closest Christian counselor?
You might be surprised how many missionaries leave the field because of trouble in their marriage, or with their family. It’s frustrating to think how many of those families could have been spared that pain, and remained in the work they loved if only they’d had the help they needed. R & R Ministries was created to help missionary families find the resources they need to keep doing the precious work they were called to do. Help us help more missionaries stay in the field by sharing this post, and tell us your story of how a ministry like Restored and Renewed could have helped you, or someone you love. When we speak the truth about our situation in love, it inspires others to speak their truth as well. So, by having the courage to share your story, you could help another family out there see themselves in your story, and reach out for the help they need.
Use the hashtag #RandRmatters when you share this link and your story on your favorite social media, and help us tell the church that a little R & R could save a family. Together, we’re helping those who share the good news around the world.