September 7, 2017

When missionaries need help

Written by  Kaylene Derksen
Five-year-old Helena (center) with her kindergarten class. Photos provided by the author. Five-year-old Helena (center) with her kindergarten class. Photos provided by the author.

I remember it as the time I was the worst possible missionary.

My eight-year-old was experiencing a great deal of unexplained learning difficulty in the education system of our country of service. I was fed up with the constant “What’s wrong with your child?” line of questioning I heard every single time I picked her up from school, and my mama bear claws were out.

“I am removing my child from your class,” I finally reported to her teacher.

“You cannot do that,” she asserted, coming closer as her face turned red and her voice rose. “It’s not how our system works.”

“I am not part of your system!” My sharp reply and quick exit ended the conversation. I had openly rejected the culture that I was sent to love — just what I was taught not to do.

My husband and I needed help, and we knew it. Obedience to our missionary calling had brought us this far, but now we were lost.

Most missionaries find themselves in situations where advocacy, or even intervention, is needed. It’s not an if — it’s a matter of when!

Worker care is one of the vital offerings covered by EMM’s Impact Fund. The worker care system gives immediate help to struggling missionaries. This can look like a Skype call, an arrangement with a local counselor, a prayer chain, or even an on-location visit. From marriage counseling to an emergency evacuation flight, EMM staff is prepared to respond immediately to any urgent need.

Emergencies are never predicted or convenient, but help is always provided with compassion and understanding. Many of the former missionaries on EMM staff remember the desperation of needing help — maybe a shoulder to cry on, maybe emergency assistance in the face of a threat.

Any EMM worker would probably say worker care is the best resource that EMM, as a sending agency, provides. After our family’s encounter with it, we couldn’t agree more. Our daughter was indeed pulled from school. We needed answers about her learning difficulty, and we needed to find them in our home culture.

As we came to the painful realization that we had to leave our location of ministry, we had help from well-prepared, compassionate, and gifted EMM pastoral staff. Thank God for these people and for the financial resources that made it possible for them to come to our aid with speed. Our daughter received the excellent help she needed and is now walking a healthy road as a young adult woman thanks to this blessing!

When you give to EMM’s Impact Fund, you’re supporting the mission workers, training, and administrative needs of today. But more than that, you’re planting the seeds of the gospel — new believers, restored peace, and transformed lives and communities. Give today, and let your gift of hope grow.

Kaylene Derksen serves as Development director at EMM.