I help manage a community medical center in Haiti. I can certainly feel the effects of 15 months on the mission field. I want to do missions in a way that I don’t have to spend years recovering when I come back to states full time, which involves a lot of self care. Sarita has helped me develop a solid self care plan. -Rachel, Haiti-
The 2007 ReMAP II study reported average missionary tenure on the field has dropped to 8 years. 67% of missionaries leave the field for preventable reasons such as depression, marital conflict, and health issues.
The modern missionary/global aid worker is not just spreading the gospel overseas. They are starting non-profits and rescuing girls out of sex trafficking, running orphanages and foster parenting babies, working in war zones with refugees or child soldiers, or building employment programs for communities in poverty. They are being the practical hands and feet of the Gospel. But this work is often heavy and takes its toll over time, gradually eroding the missionaries’ hearts, bodies, and souls in the process.
They are faced with the daily challenges of trying to bring change to extremely difficult circumstances, complex problems and broken systems. Stress, PTSD, depression, and compassion fatigue are only a few of the dangers missionaries face.
It is the accumulation of these challenges that build up in a missionary’s life leading to burnout, depression, adrenal fatigue, marital issues, and despair.
Many missionaries feel misunderstood by their church communities, agencies, and donors. They feel the need to put on a “brave face” in order to avoid judgment or maintain their positions.
Many organizations do not have strong enough member care programs to meet the person needs of the global worker.
Furthermore research has shown that a high number of missionaries have histories of abuse and trauma they bring with them onto the field. The traumas they experience while serving often trigger these past experiences making it difficult for the person to cope in healthy ways.
We believe healthy missionaries are the most effective. Our goal is to equip global aid workers to do no harm to the people and countries they serve. The only way to do this is to be healed and mindful.