Launching as a new frontier missionary is one of the most exciting times in a missionary’s life! Our minds are full of everything we want to accomplish. We’re excited about the new sights, sounds, smells and friends we will make in our new country. We are on the cutting edge of a great adventure! We can already picture our first baptism.
Upon arriving in our new country, however, reality sets in. Things we had envisioned begin to vanish like fog on a hot summer day. Most of us find that our new language is so much harder to learn than we ever expected. For others, it’s the living conditions that bring us to tears. For some, it’s the pain of being separated from family and friends.
Yes, we witness signs of God’s leading in miraculous encounters. Sometimes our new friends quickly accept Christ. But then sometimes those same individuals leave the church, become ill or even die.
Often our health is challenged, or—worse yet—one of our children gets sick. Some of us learn that our team members don’t share our goals or plans. They may not even share the same basic idea of how to plant a church.
If we are out long enough, we will experience separation from our children as they return to our homeland alone to finish their education. The separation is often more than we can bear.
When we return to our home country, some of us will come back in tears because circumstances forced us to leave the mission field against our will. Some feel a burdening sense of failure. We ask ourselves, “Did we even make a difference?”
At the first AFM alumni reunion, AFM President Conrad Vine referred to these and other scars we carry as our “badges of honor.” We have these battle wounds because we dared to engage in the fight. We said, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”
Frontier missionary service is a battle on the front lines of the war to end all wars. And wars leave scars. As frontier missionaries, we all have scars, we all wear these badges of honor.
Let us never forget that none of us could have earned these “badges of honor” if we had never gone. That’s the common bond among us all—we went. We are a band of brothers.
At AFM’s first frontier missionary reunion, which took place at AFM’s training center on October 10-12, that bond was reinforced through fellowship and prayer. We relived old adventures deepened the bonds of our shared experience working with the Lord.
If you have served as a frontier missionary, I hope to see you at the next AFM reunion on September 1 and 2, 2017. However, if circumstances don’t allow you to attend, I’ll see you at that great reunion banquet table in Heaven. We will share a drink of fresh coconut milk together, or perhaps a bowl of rice. Maybe even some Milo!