He twists the Word to create false expectations of self and others. He picks at the past wounds and fears of inadequacy and being “too . . . “ (fill in the blank). He mingles guilt and shame into her calling to the field. She believes the gospel, but it gets confused with self-doubt, the need to “help” others, and the difficulty of reconciling the hope of redemption with the pain, suffering, and evil surrounding her. Then she is wounded by her teammates, team leader, organization, Nationals, men. She struggles with sexual fantasies, loneliness, people-pleasing, and resentment. She thinks “It was not supposed to turn out like this.” She feels like something is wrong with her, and she begins thinking, feeling, and doing things that are hurtful toward herself. She judges and chastises herself and tries to stop “sinning” without any understanding of the God-given desires of her heart underlying these struggles. The desire for intimacy, connection, secure identity, and justice begin to feel shameful, and she begins to deaden her heart.
She goes into survival mode, and God begins to feel distant; she works harder; her stress tolerance drops; each wound begins to pile on. Anxiety, depression, and physical health issues increase. She becomes angry with God, but everyone “knows” she is not allowed to do that, so she concludes the worst of herself. She is not a good enough missionary, woman, or even a Christian. How can you work for a God that you resent and then feel ashamed about resenting? Where does she turn without experiencing further isolation?
At GRC, we see this pattern of struggle play out repeatedly among single global workers. Our Care Providers are able to enter into the wounded places with her to begin the healing process, to untwist the deceptions that are entangled around her self-concept and God-image. The gospel of Scripture is applied in refreshing ways: to help separate out sin to be confessed and God-given desires to be celebrated; to loosen the power of shame and empower her identity in Christ; to walk with her from bondage to freedom. And at times, that leads to returning her to the mission field once again to share the same gospel with those who have never heard or tasted of this good news.