Arriving in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with her husband and four children was all Sarah* hoped it would be. Within days, they were studying with other new arrivals in an orientation course and learning the local language and culture. Soon after, they were taken to the ‘village living’ component of their orientation training – four […]
Arriving in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with her husband and four children was all Sarah* hoped it would be. Within days, they were studying with other new arrivals in an orientation course and learning the local language and culture.
Soon after, they were taken to the ‘village living’ component of their orientation training – four weeks living with the people as locals do and speaking the language. The children thrived and after four weeks, they returned to the main base to take up their assignments.
But within a short amount of time, Sarah felt increasingly unable to cope with daily life. Missionary life is really hard. Leaving all to follow Jesus has a cost. Sarah felt she needed help, but many of her support networks – friends, family, church and familiar routines – were all left behind in her home country.
She began to lean on others in the community. People rallied behind her and her family, to support and encourage them, but Sarah continued to spiral into depression. Although basic medical help was available, and despite amazing people in the community stepping in to help, Sarah reached the point at which even this was no longer enough. Almost six months after arriving she, accompanied by her husband and children, was medically evacuated back to her home country to receive specialist help.
Without the proper supports, some missionaries are leaving the mission field to receive professional help, and many are not coming back. Outreach ministries stop, Bible translation projects grind to a halt, pilot and administration staff seemingly depart overnight. Those left behind to carry on the work all take a step back, a step closer to burnout and overload themselves. Something needs to change.
So, in 2020, we and co-founder Dr Roger van der Veen began working through consultancy scenarios and meeting with multiple mission agencies, after which we decided to set up a specialist counselling centre for missionaries – past, present and future.
The Red Sea Counselling and Member Care Centre Limited is now registered and has approved charity status. The next phase of establishing this centre is to find a facility to operate from in Cairns, Queensland, to serve missionaries throughout the Pacific region. But to make this happen, funds are needed.
The need is estimated to be around $200,000 for the first 12 to 18 months, after which time, we plan to be completely self-sustaining. This service will be for all missionaries and Christian cross-culture workers in the Asia-Pacific region, regardless of denomination or agency.
*This story is used with permission, but names have been changed.
This story was also published in the April 2022 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
Would you consider partnering with us to equip missionaries with the tools they need to live resilient lives? Donations of $2 and over are tax deductible. For more information, please contact us at email@example.com or phone 0437 429 451.