A Weary Journey
No, a cross-cultural worker isn’t any more special than you or me. But the unique circumstances to which they are called provide a brewing ground for depression, anxiety, temptation, burnout, and exhaustion unlike many other callings. The combination of everyday stressors like raising children, managing family finances, and fighting traffic are coupled with unique stressors like fear of getting kicked out the country, tummy trouble every time you eat a meal, and panic at the thought of a neighbor dropping by unannounced.
It’s a perfect storm for stress. And untreated stress, over time, leads to burnout. Burnout requires healing before field service can continue, because the journey won’t get any smoother.
God has called every one of us to play different parts in telling the world that He loves us. He’s called a few specific people to difficult, dark, and downright dangerous places. They aren’t equipped with superpowers or have any special sense of spiritual prowess the rest of us have been denied. They’re simply called to go, so they go.
“We will go down to the depths of hell to rescue souls if someone will hold the other end of the rope for us.” -William Carey
But even when these people are right in the heart of God’s will, things get hard. Really hard. So hard, that it’s pretty impossible to see your hand in front of you, it’s so dark. You wonder if you’re where you’re supposed to be. You question whether your presence is doing one iota of good.
You wonder if God’s forgotten about you.
We know God doesn’t forget about His children. And cross-cultural workers know, too, but it’s easy to forget because it doesn’t feel true. These fellow journeyers through life carry a heavy backpack, and every now and then, they need to take a break so that their muscles can continue walking the path in strength.
They need a safe place to unload that heavy backpack. These friends deserve a few moments to catch their breath, take a step back from the fishbowl, and perhaps share their thoughts with an ear who’s been there. They might even simply need to sleep and eat good food.
“Obedience to the call of Christ nearly always costs everything to two people- the one who is called, and the one who loves that one.” - Oswald Chambers
God doesn’t want these precious children of His to grow weary, burn out, get depressed, or simply throw in the towel — but if they don’t take regular breaks and take care of themselves, they will.