Missionaries Never Retire?!

By Judi Chow

I know people who retired in their forties or fifties when they were financially secure. That means they don’t have to work for money anymore and finally get to enjoy life. I know pastors who retired in their sixties from church and travel to different mission fields to help out. When I ask missionaries about retirement, they usually give me a blank look meaning they have not thought about it. When I proceed to ask:

Where would you like to retire?
Don’t know!
Are you financially prepared for retirement?
Huh, what…not sure… Jehovah Jirih- the Lord will provide.
What do you want to do if you retire?
Continue to serve the Lord for as long as possible!

Faithful to the end, that’s what missionaries are called to – a lifetime of service by faith. That’s why some people say missionaries never retire, therefore they don’t need to think about it or plan for it. Maybe another reason we don’t talk about it is because we are focusing on recruiting missionaries, younger missionaries for that matter so they have more years to serve. In the last several years, the average age of missionaries sent out from Hong Kong is around 47. If a missions agency requires their missionaries to retire at the age of 65, that means they only have 18 years of field service. Whereas if missionaries don’t retire and if they live to 80 years old, that could add another 15 years to a total of 33 years of missionary service! From the economic point of view, isn’t it better for the Kingdom of God if missionaries do not retire?

That’s all very ideal for those who are able and capable; how about that single missionary who was forced to retire early due to a physical and/or emotional hardship? What about that missionary who was killed accidentally on the field leaving his wife (also a missionary) and young children behind? I have seen missionaries in these conditions suffer from lack of financial and relational support when they return “home.” On the other hand, there are senders who stood by their missionaries in sickness and in health, in effectiveness and in incapability. Eventually, the practical question will be raised – How long or how much should a sending church and/or missions agency continue to provide for these missionaries who are no longer actively serving on the field? Are they still considered missionaries?

I have raised more questions than provided answers on the issue of missionary non-retirement. As a missionary, maybe I should begin to think about what to do if I reach a point where I am not able to function as a missionary no matter how old I am. Do I expect my family members, friends, sending church, and missions agency to take care of me? Should I add this burden onto them? No, I don’t… but traditional Chinese’s belief is for children to take care of their parents when they get old. Some missionaries might unconsciously transfer this concept into expecting their senders and supporters to take care to them in their golden years. If things don’t turn out the way they expect, feelings might get hurt and relationships broken.

As missionaries, how do we walk by faith and be responsible at the same time and not fall into a fatalistic mentality of folding our hands and leaving it all up to God since He is in control of all things in all time? Our Lord created us to have freewill and desires us to partner with Him, from God creating the animals and Adam naming each one of them to missionaries sharing the Gospel and the Holy Spirit moving each heart to accept the Gift of eternal life. Let us be responsible partners, taking the time to ask our Lord how we should partner with Him in retiring or not retiring.

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The Second Ten Commandments for Missionaries

by Judi Chow

The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites dealing with moral precepts such as love and relationships with God and man. It is a good idea to re-examine it here in order to see how the second ten commandments which missionaries need to obey to honor our Lord in all we do and all we can be.

Take time to review, reflect, and renew our commitment to obey not only the first Ten Commandments but seriously consider obeying each one of the second Ten Commandments also if you are a missionary.

The Ten Commandments From Exodus 20
Essence
1.  You shall have no other Gods before me
2.  You shall not make for yourselves an idol
3.  You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God
4.  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
5.  Honor your father and your mother
6.  You shall not murder
7.  You shall not commit adultery
8.  You shall not steal
9.  You shall not give false testimony
10. You shall not covet
Loyalty
Worship
Reverence
Sanctification
Respect for Parents
Respect for Human life
Purity
Honesty
Truthfulness
Contentment
The Second Ten Commandments For Missionaries
Focus
11.  You shall not put people’s needs before me
12.  You shall not make ministry your idol
13.  You shall not misuse the gifts I’ve entrusted to you
14.  Remember to live a holy life by keeping the Sabbath
15.  Honor your senders and supporters
16.  You shall not lead in all things for all times
17.  You shall not expect of yourself more than I asked of you
18.  You shall not hold onto your accomplishment
19.  You shall not leave your station/ field until I tell you
20.  You shall not forget I am always by your side
Priority
Worship
Stewardship
Sanctification
Accountability
Humility
Reality
False Security
Faithfulness
Assurance

Why are You Afraid?

by Judi chow

One of the questions we ask missionary candidates for their Pre-field psychological assessment is, “What do you fear the most?” Let me share some of the answers here: snakes and rats, death and separation, sin against God, not being used by God, my parents die before accepting Christ, my child’s safety, getting seriously ill on the field, not able to accomplish my task as a missionary… the list goes on and on. Looking at these answers from missionaries now serving in different parts of the world, you can see that missionaries are also human beings with blood, sweat, and tears.

Often times, missionaries as well as church leaders tell me in tears they are scared. As a counselor, I can analyze the psychological causes of their fear like: feeling threatened, powerless, perceived danger, inadequacy, rejection, and guilt (genuine and false). Fear usually arises from lack of trust and when one falls into uncontrollable situations or the unknown. As a missionary, I know servants of the Lord are not immune to fear. Even Jesus’ disciples were really scared when their little fishing boat was about to be swallowed by the storm. They tried to wake Jesus up by shouting, “Lord, save us! We are going to drown!” The disciples really thought they were going to die, and Jesus responded with a question, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” (Matthew 8:23-26)

Every one of us has our own fears. I don’t know about you, but my number one fear is… believe it or not… preaching! Do you know why? Well, maybe I have been taught women ought not to preach and if I do, then I am being disobedient. Preaching is proclaiming God’s Word, and what if I don’t get it right, will I be leading people astray? What will people think of me then? Here, finally, I have come to the bottom line – my concern is about my performance, my face, me! I am just like the disciples focusing on the circumstances and my own well-being, having so little faith! I neglected the fact Jesus knows and He cares! Numerous times Jesus assures us, “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” (Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50) I am getting better at conquering the fear of preaching now. I still sweat over sermon preparation and experience butterflies in the stomach before approaching the pulpit, but during delivery I try to stay tuned into Jesus’ comforting promise, “I am here! Don’t be afraid.

Fear did not go away completely as my faith factor still has room to grow. It is understandable for missionaries to be afraid, particularly when one doesn’t know a wave is a welcomed invitation or a hostile rejection. Facing the unknown and uncontrollable circumstances on the field without a support system can force a person to turn to Jesus or become self-reliant. I am sad to said, as I counsel missionaries in times of need or fear, their first answer usually is not Jesus!

Jesus’ question, “Why are you afraid?” is followed by what seems to me a rebuke, “You have so little faith!” Jesus didn’t stop there; he stood up and rebuked the wind and the waves showing the disciples He can calm the storm at sea as well as the storm in their hearts. Jesus’ presence and power overcame fear!

Next time when you are scared, focus on His promise, “I am here! Don’t be afraid.”

Lord, hear my prayer!

by Judi Chow

Dear Lord,

Thank you for calling me to labor no matter on the field across the globe or at the office.
Thank you for Your promise to be with me always to the ends of the world.

Thank you for helping me to give up the familiar comfort and security in exchange for an opportunity to share and show Your love.
Thank you for giving me zealousness in proclaiming the Gospel.
Thank you also…  when I seem to be burning out and waiting for Your healing hand’s touch.

Lord, touch me, heal me, embrace me now.
Lord, please show Your mercy when I am suffering from discouragement and misunderstanding.

Enable me to experience Your love so I can love my “enemy” once again.
Empower me to forgive as You have forgiven me.
Enlighten me to see the situation from both sides.
Nourish me with Your Word and Work.
Remind me it is You Who is in control and not me.

Lord, speak to me; surround me with Your presence.
Lord, help me to use all my senses to communicate to the unreached the same way as with my family members and coworkers, so I may……
……listen patiently with my heart as well as my head,
……verbalize my expectations clearly and lovingly,
……express my respect and acceptance toward the other person,
……speak the truth in love and humility but with boldness,
……not compromise the message, but be flexible on the method of deliverance.

Lord, break me, mold me, refine me now.
Lord, help me to put You in the Center of my focus instead of the problem.

Elevate me to meditate on Your Word rather than men’s words.
Let me be satisfied by Your presence more than the work well done.
Allow me to die to self as I carry my cross to follow You each day.
Protect me from the evil one’s temptation.
Cleanse me from sinful and revengeful desires so I can continue to be Your servant.

Holy Lord, show me how to love myself so I can love others as I love You!

In Christ’s Name I pray,

Amen

A Prayer for Missionaries

by Judi Chow

Dear Lord,

Thank you for calling so many unknown missionaries laboring in remote villages as well as urban cities across the globe.
Thank you for Your promise to be always with them to the ends of the world.
Thank you for their willingness to give up the familiar comfort and security in exchange for an opportunity to share and show Your love to the lost.
Thank you for their zealousness in the proclamation of the Gospel.
Thank you also… for wounded soldiers awaiting Your healing hand’s touch.

Lord, touch them, heal them, embrace them now.
Lord, please show Your mercy to those who are suffering from discouragement and misunderstanding.

Enable them to experience Your love so they can love their “enemy” once again.
Empower them to forgive as You have forgiven them.
Enlighten them to see the situation from both sides.
Nourish them with Your Word and Work.
Remind them it is You Who is in control and not them.

Lord, speak to them, surround them with Your presence.
Lord, help them to use all their senses to communicate to the unreached the same way as with their family members and coworkers, so they may……
……Listen patiently with their heart as well as their head,
……Verbalize their expectations clearly and lovingly,
……Express their respect and acceptance of the other person,
……Speak the truth in love and humility but with boldness,
……Not to compromise the message, but be flexible on the method of deliverance.

Lord, break them, mold them, refine them now.
Lord, help them to put You in the Center of their focus instead of the problem.

Elevate them to meditate on Your Word rather than men’s words.
Let them be satisfied by Your presence more than the work well done.
Allow them to die to self as they carry their crosses to follow You each day.
Protect them from the evil one’s temptation.
Cleanse them from sinful and revengeful desires so they can continue to be Your servants.

Holy Lord, show them how to love themselves so they can love others as they love You!

In Christ’s Name,

Amen

God answered your prayers

I’ve just talked with mom today, glad to hear her voice and  knowing she is in good spirit. Thank God and your prayers, she regains some feelings on her thumb, index finger, and palm today. She is a bit shy that I have posted her photo with dad and sharing this event on the web for the world to know, but mom is grateful for all the prayers that helped her regain feelings on her left hand. Next Monday, my friend will take her to see a specialist to follow-up. Please continue to pray for her complete recovery. Miracles do happen everyday!

Thanks for all the prayers, emails, and phone calls showing your care and love. I am experiencing God’s peace and continue to focus on my missionary duty at this time.