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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Missionary Wives Survey: What we've learned

Photo by: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

One missionary summarized her family’s work like this: “Really, our main ministry is loving the people and sharing the love of God with them. Sounds simple, but it is so needed.”

Another shares her day: “The day begins at 7:15. Before leaving the bedroom, prayed for the day’s activities, then quickly checked Facebook newsfeed to see if any of my children had issues during their day that I would likely be hearing about. Headed out to computer to check morning email and bring up a copy of my (child’s) term paper, that we have a computer appointment to discuss after his Wednesday night church service. On the way to computer, greet hubby, who already has a two-hour start on his day. He fills me in on his progress to that point and then lets me know that I can expect a call from (child) shortly to discuss the latest medical diagnosis. We pray together, and then I take breakfast to the computer to eat, while I proofread the term paper and wait for the call. Talk to child. This is followed by a quick shower and time for personal grooming before the arrival of a (native) friend for a short visit. We sit on the floor around our low table where she enjoys coffee (and I fidget, endlessly trying to keep my “American” legs from falling asleep) as we visit over a Tupperware gift cookbook. I practice reading (the language) to her from the cookbook, and she helps me to understand new words, as she practices giving English explanations. By the time she leaves, it’s almost time for the term paper appointment. While waiting, I double check a folder of pictures that needs to be transferred from my computer to an iPad for use during today’s afternoon conversational English lesson. One hour is spent discussing the term paper, after which I grab a quick lunch while my husband transfers the picture files. With that finished, it is time to head out to the mall (just down the street) to meet (a native lady) for a three-hour conversational English lesson. During the lesson, I get a text from eldest son. My husband and I return home, where there is just enough time to check in with my son about his wife’s latest physical problem. This is followed by a time of prayer with hubby over the upcoming marriage counseling and discipleship meeting. We spend a few minutes gathering materials and making sure we’re on the same page for this meeting, since we planned a split session this evening. We spend the time en route discussing the upcoming meeting as well as interesting points during the English conversation lesson. Arriving early, Hubby looks over his notes while I silently pray for wisdom. The meeting time ended up being almost two hours long! About an hour longer than planned, but you don’t cut something short when it is obvious the Holy Spirit is at work. Since the meeting went longer than planned, we decided to just stop at a restaurant for a quick, late supper before going home. We discussed the unexpected events of the meeting over supper. At home, it was back to work for a bit. He printed out some materials for Sunday’s children’s classes, while I quickly checked the day’s emails and messages. Read and worked through the next two sections of the Elizabeth George book Becoming a Woman of Strength and Beauty. Followed by prayer. Ended by typing this out before I forgot what all happened today. I will now spend a half hour with hubby watching an old TV show on DVD before lights out around midnight.”

What can we take away from the Missionary Wives Survey?
  1. They are normal women—and not so normal. Each has a husband, children either small or grown, laundry to do, dishes to wash, meals to prepare. They get tired, but they enjoy their work. They’re not so normal in that they hang their wash on lines, look for lice, and depend on dogs for safety. They might have house help, and they are never sure if the electricity or water will be on. They may have drop-in visitors at all hours of the day or face other unique challenges.
  2. They work hard. Some are learning languages. Others are translating, working in offices, teaching children, mentoring women, and counseling couples. They pay bills, copy papers, design brochures, and write prayer letters.
  3. They help their husbands. Every wife expressed how she tries to encourage and help her husband in any way she can. They are ready to receive guests, help counsel women, and just be there for her husband. Her husband needs her to believe in him, support him, and just be a practical help for him. When God puts a ministry couple together, He gifts them to complement each other in the work of the ministry.
  4. They pray for their husbands. No one knows a missionary man’s needs like his wife. No one understands the challenges on their field like his wife. She prays for him daily.
  5. They are awesome mothers. I hope you caught their zeal for mothering as well as their zeal for the ministry. They juggle mothering with serving. Many times, they homeschool or teach in their children’s Christian school. Did you notice how much time is spent at the dinner table? They invest in family communication. Even the empty nesters remain in daily contact with their kids.
  6. They have their priorities straight: God, husband, children, ministry. They spend private time with God in Bible reading and prayer. They’re Bible students and are constantly reading enriching literature. An effective ministry naturally flows out of a godly life.

Therefore, my beloved brethren (sisters!),
be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 15:58)

THANK YOU, missionary wives, for sharing your lives with us!

(For the record, though I’m a missionary wife myself, I did not participate in my own survey. I only collected and organized others’ answers.)


  1. That's one thing I got to from one of the missionary wives' testimony, that she spends a lot of time praying, a lot of time in contact or talking with her children, and a lot of time in contact with and praying with her husband. So many so-called feminists would put down this kind of life, but it's a God-honoring life, even though much of the work is done behind the scenes; it is one God will bless. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much, rw40, for your comment. I agree with you, it's a life that God will honor. Thank you for your visit! God bless!

  2. I truly enjoyed this series! Thank you.

    1. I'm so glad. Thank you for reading, Carole! God bless you!


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