Someone asked us recently, “Can’t a local person do what you do?” (For those of you who don’t know, we run a guesthouse in West Africa to serve the missionaries and pastors who come through our city. Our goal is to refresh them so that they can keep serving.) I responded, “Yes, but there is something important that we have to offer that they don’t.” We have the unique experience as missionaries who leave our home culture, family and friends to start out as nothing in a new culture, new language and new friends so that people may come to know Christ. In this experience missionaries encounter transition, loss, uncertainty, grief, joy and fulfillment. There is a unique bond that missionaries have with each other, especially missionary kids. We understand the loss, grief, transitions and the “why” of missions. We can minister to one another with more understanding and empathy.
Yes, a local could run the guesthouse and they could do a good job. Yes, local believers are blessings to us. I have some amazing local friends that I am so grateful for. Their friendship and encouragement have meant the world to me and I wouldn’t be able to live in Africa if I wasn’t friends with them. They have taught me, served me, prayed for and with me and blessed me. Our friendship is so important.
Yet, my family has something to offer missionaries. To many of the missionaries that frequent our guesthouse, it is a home away from home. When our kids are not there, their friends miss them. Many of the missionary kids look forward to playing with our kids when they stay at the guesthouse. We look forward to their visits and our times together as families. It is a blessing to visit with friends that come in from the village, catch up on their lives and ministries, pray together and enjoy each other’s company. It is a sweet time of fellowship for all.
We have also learned the specific needs of our guests and are able to more specifically meet those needs when they come. That might be knowing that they won’t want a homemade meal but they will want to get pizza from the infamous YumYums pizza or making sure there are a bunch of cinnamon rolls in the freezer or even just clearing our schedule to visit with them.
When I was single, I once thought that missionaries didn’t need to run missionary guesthouses; I thought it was not necessary and that a local believer could run this ministry… I don’t think this way anymore. I see a great value in what we do. I am so grateful for the opportunities that we get to serve, to be with, to pray for, and to refresh others so that they can continue to teach God’s word to the unreached.