What Missionaries Ought to Know about Coping with Change

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Partner: MissionaryCare.com

What Missionaries Ought to know… does not mean that the author sat down and decided what missionaries ought to know, but that missionaries themselves asked about these topics. During the author’s 35 years of college teaching he learned that if one person asks a question, others probably want to know the same thing—and if two people ask, it was certainly a topic that others need to know about. These are things missionaries need to know because several missionaries have asked about each of them at one time or another.

To read more from the What Missionaries Ought to Know series

Partner: MissionaryCare.com

Resource Description


Jonah faced change in his life when God told him to become the first cross-cultural missionary by going east and confronting Nineveh (Jonah 1).  Jonah went west.  When he finally obeyed, the people in Nineveh responded to his message and repented.  However, rather than rejoicing, Jonah became disillusioned and angry because of God’s grace and compassion for a despised people group.  Though succeeding outwardly, he failed inwardly.

At the beginning of his second term of missionary service (Acts 15) Paul suggested to Barnabas that they go back and visit people where they had been before to see how everyone was doing.  However, as recorded in the verses immediately following that, Paul wound up going with Silas (rather than Barnabas), going to Macedonia (rather than to Asia), and meeting new people (rather than visit people they had seen before).  Paul adapted to the changes and became a successful missionary, both inwardly and outwardly.

Know that change happens.

Even if your life seems to be predictable and stable right now, sooner or later you will probably have to cope with such changes as Paul did in Acts 15-16.  Someone has said that the only thing that does not change is change itself.  This has been true of cross-cultural missionaries from the beginning.   Some people thrive on change and seek it out, but others dread change and struggle through it when it comes.  Most people want enough change to keep life interesting, but not so much as to make them uneasy.

What can one do to get through those inevitable changes that happen in life?  Of course, change itself is not the problem—the problem is in how we deal with it when it happens.  Here are some ways to cope.


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