Dave and Mary arrived back in their passport country with a sigh of relief. The political turmoil and threat of violence were over, and their children were safely back in school. They had planned to stay in their host country four years, but their agency required them to come home after only a year because of the danger.
Unfortunately, within a few weeks different stresses were plaguing Dave and Mary. They felt unneeded, sad, and guilty. Other people did not understand, and they really did not fit well back in their home community. Such a premature departure from the field is often much more difficult than a return at the end of a person’s commitment.
Premature departures have been occurring for thousands of years, so let us consider some in the Bible. What are reasons for leaving, who is affected, what emotions may arise, and what can people do?