Challenges, Hardships, Dangers

Challenges, Hardships, Dangers

Life on the Mission Field
by Sue Calhoun, Missions Ministry Team Member

The life of a missionary is meaningful and rewarding, but certainly not easy. As you read about some of the challenges our mission partners face, please pray with us for the Lord’s protection and provision.

I have been contemplating daily life for the Rainwaters, the Westholms, the Ruracas, along with the staff at the Ring Road School. I imagine their struggles falling into three broad categories:

  • Challenges—things that “just are” and require work-arounds, extra planning or time.
  • Hardships—things that have a deeper impact and may not have a work-around, but have to be endured.
  • Dangers—situations that could threaten the lives or well-being of our partners or their neighbors, congregants, loved ones.

In this and subsequent posts, we will share some – but certainly not all – of the challenges, hardships and dangers our mission partners face.

“Acts of God”
Weather volatility
 Weather in all of sub-Saharan Africa is unpredictable. Draughts are frequent occurrences as are torrential rains.  Most of the population where our mission partners live and minister are subsistence farmers. They depend on crops to survive. Last March, Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira city, Mozambique as a Category 2 storm. Its heavy rains and strong winds led to flash flooding, hundreds of deaths, and massive destruction of property and crops. Beira is due east of the community where the Ruracas live and minister. These communities were hit especially hard. To add to the hardship, Idai hit during their harvest season. Crops were lost.  The storm was wide-spread enough that the villages and communities that the Westerholms work with were also impacted, though not as severely. By God’s providence and mercy, those who survived the storm were able to keep  on. As far as I know, no lives were lost due to starvation, but surely many went to bed hungry and labored hard to replant their gardens and recover their homes.

Locust Swarm
A new challenge for our partners in Kenya, where the Ring Road School is located, is an unprecedented locust swarm.  It makes me think of the 8th plague God brought on Egypt.  The Swarm began last year and has been moving westward from its origins in the Middle East. By late December, the first swarms were starting to arrive in Kenya, moving quickly throughout the country’s northern and central areas; by January, the country was experiencing its worst infestation in 70 years. Locusts devour crops. Starvation on a massive scale could ensue. According to an article published by National Geographic, Keith Cressman, senior locust forecasting officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization, fears  that by June the desert locusts will have increased their numbers 400-fold compared with today, triggering widespread devastation to crops and pastures in a region that’s already extremely vulnerable to famine. Over 13 million people in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia experience “severe acute food insecurity,” according to the FAO, while another 20 million are on the brink.

It’s timely to pray about the locust swarm; lives are at risk. And economic stability of the region could be greatly affected.  Please be praying also about unpredictable weather that can change the fortunes of whole communities in the blink of an eye.  Perhaps let  2 Corinthians 4:7-9 guide your prayer.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”

Our next blog will focus on infrastructure challenges.
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