Ministry is hard no matter where you are. I get that.
Yet, no one will argue that there are some places and ministry situations that are rightly called “hard.” There are places where few people want to go. Nineveh, for example. There are lots of Nineveh’s in our world. There are places where people, like Jonah, refuse to go even when they are called. There are still Jonah’s in our world. I used to be one. There are many places where, despite great need, few people and resources are invested.
Hard places have some (or all) of the following characteristics:
- Further away and more time zones from home
- Weather challenges such as heat, earthquakes, pollution and more.
- Safety and security concerns — crime, political instability, sexual abuse and more.
- Children-related concerns such as a lack of schooling options, safety concerns and more.
- Difficulty obtaining visas and necessary document for living in a country.
- Unreached people and non-responsive people — progress is slow and fruit comes only through long-terms commitment and much patience.
- Low budgets and great financial sacrifice.
- Overwhelming needs
Hard places are hard.
Many are called but never go.
Many who go give up and come home.
Some work hard for years and see very little fruit.
Our American culture does not understand this — we go to great length and expense to gain increased ease of life. We put our American citizenship above our heavenly citizenship and often decide that we can go where we want , do what we choose and nobody can tell us differently, even God. We are a people quick to change plans, try something new, not follow through on plans and find a better, easier way. Our goals center around “moving up”, financial gain and quick results. No observable results means failure.
We aren’t all like this….but it’s what our culture tells us we ought to be like.
Unfortunately, this is also what we see in many churches.
Spending years in a hard place working among hard people in hard to endure situations is so anti-cultural…..and even in our churches people tend to think twice about giving to something that is not going to have immediate, observable and delicious fruit.
The end result it that these faithful workers tend to be forgotten. They never receive Christmas gifts from the people they are serving and people at home are too busy to remember. Special days throughout the year are spent alone. Even in the best circumstances it can be lonely. They wish they could speak and write freely about all that God is doing in their lives and ministry but they cannot, usually for security reasons. They often feel as through they have fallen off the radar.
These people and these places need much prayer.
Yet, the question remains — If I’m not willing to go, when why should I expect anyone else to go?