Why is it, I wonder, that people expect glowing reports in missionary letters? Do they see us as super-human? Always strong and victorious. Never any needs. Never down, depressed, or discouraged. Never making mistakes or sinning? And always doing great and mighty things for God. 

A list of accomplishments a mile long, churches packed with converts. I mean, otherwise, are we worthy of support? Aren’t we supposed to earn our keep?

I was thinking this morning of the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, chapters 10-13, where he speaks of boasting. Maybe this is one of the reasons why we try to downplay what we do here in Italy. When the Lord placed the thorn in Paul’s flesh, it clearly showed him his own weakness. And delivered him from the pride of thinking he could do anything for God. That’s why he says:

He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

I think Paul fully realized that he could do nothing without God’s help. And that any fruit or success he saw, was because of the Lord working through him. That’s one thing the Lord has worked at teaching us through these years.

We like to dream about doing great works for God. When all the while he’s wanting to do great things IN US.

And perhaps that’s why a lot of our experiences here have been of this nature:

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10

Not that we want to compare ourselves to the apostle — that would be absurd. But the Lord loves us enough that he allow us such experiences.

Because he wants us to see that without him we can do nothing.

As God’s children, we’re here to bring him glory and honor. But if we start thinking that it rests on us, we run the risk of stealing his glory for ourselves. Sure, we work. We pray. We share. We talk to people about Jesus every chance we get. We try to reach out with love, with a helping hand. And we work at encouraging and building up the churches in our care. But the fact remains that without him we can do nothing. We plant. We water. We nourish. We even reap the harvest. But only the Lord can bring that harvest about.

And so he teaches us that we are weak.

Through insults, persecutions, hardships, persecutions, and calamities…and we’ve had our share of them all, he teaches us that he is strong and able to see us through. And it’s often such difficulties that have brought about the greatest fruit, both in us, and in those we serve.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 11:30

We don’t talk a lot about what we’re doing, because we’ve learned that HE is really the One at work.

But we do continually ask for prayer, for we are continually laboring away! Missionaries aren’t perfect or super-human. They’re weak just like you, but they find their strength in the One whose strength is perfect in our weakness!

Please pray for us and other missionaries, that we will know both our own weakness and his perfect strength!

The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.

James 5:16


2 thoughts on “Missionary Letters

  1. I LOVED THIS! You hit the nail on the head We’re all weak and need the strength and wisdom of the Lord. And those who want us to always share the bright and positive, who have no room for the real and painful, are themselves very sad. Thanks for this, my friend.


    1. Thanks Dayle! We have always found missionary letters really hard to write. Finding balance, but how? We want to rejoice in what the Lord has done – but not seem we’re boasting. We also want to share honestly without seeming that we’re complaining. I hope this helps us all to remember that we too are just normal people! For I think people sometimes forget that!!

      Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s