Adrenaline was pumping as my son set out to go tubing behind the boat. Who could hang on the longest? Who could go the fastest? Of course, we insisted that each kid wear a life vest. As the boys hang onto that tube for dear life, they expect to fly off at some point. But we didn’t expect that when my son flew off, the water hitting his stomach would knock him unconscious. His life jacket kept him afloat, but his head was still underwater. Thank the Lord, his friend was nearby and could pull his head up so he could breathe and get him back on the boat to safety.
How often are missionary services like this tubing experience? When we sign up, we know we are asking for a life of risks. Most of us make many preparations to study language culture and take over the club foundation courses; these are life vests. But despite our best intentions, sometimes our overseas experiences knock us out completely, and that’s when Compass Ministries can step in. We can be in your moment of hardship to help pull your head out of the water and get you back to safety. We offer counseling, coaching, and debriefing. We have a growing team of coaches and counselors representing over five countries and cultures. As missionaries, we often make many preparations for the stressors on the field, putting our life jackets on and being ready and trained up. All that is important, and it helps. But there are still moments when we need someone to hold our heads out of the water and help us get safely on the boat. We at Compass can be those friends for you.
We are celebrating missionary health this year—lots of changes. We have a new team of trained coaches and a growing team of volunteer counselors. I’m honored alongside my staff to step into the role of leading these teams to ensure high-quality care. We want to see missionary families worldwide healthy enough to withstand the extreme stressors of living cross-culturally and sometimes very hostile situations.
My first few weeks on the mission field were shocking. Not just culture shock - Village life! Women are being treated like second-class citizens! Using an outhouse! But the deeper shock of discovering that some missionaries who had left just before our arrival had struggled immensely: kids were not taken care of for the sake of ‘focusing on the ministry,’ and the parent’s mental health was in the danger zone. Their agency had asked them to return home to receive care and restoration just before our arrival. This is what we stepped into—real life on the mission field.
It is a given that missionaries take on monumental tasks in often difficult environments. They seek to change hearts and communities with the transformational love of Jesus. This is a challenging task, and it takes a toll on those who participate. The good news is that, by nature, missionaries are typically powerful and resilient. They generally have strong motivation, spiritual maturity, and a sense of purpose. They are usually very adaptable and used to deal with many high-level stressors simultaneously. But sometimes, these burdens become too heavy to bear, and personal relationships or sense of self suffer. Anxiety and depression can creep in. Hope can seemingly flee.
This is where Compass Ministries steps in. We come alongside struggling missionaries and their families to provide a safe place to listen, equip, and aid in healing when the stresses of cross-cultural life become too heavy. We offer trained coaches and counselors from various cultures who understand the missionary experience and its effects on adults and children. Compass Ministries is not affiliated with any agency or denomination. Still, we are bound by a shared love of Jesus and a desire to help His people serve Him worldwide.
Join us as we Celebrate Missionary Health and do our part to ensure that missionaries and their families are strong and healthy as they represent Christ worldwide.
Compass Ministries Clinical Director
Licensed Mental Health Counselor