What Are Missionaries Dealing With That We Aren’t Talking About? with Amy Young

Apr 18, 2024

 

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Missionaries, how would you answer this question: “Are you holding a secret that if your supporters, sending church, or sending organization knew about it, could jeopardize you being on the field?” Amy Young, LPC, president of Global Trellis and former missionary, asked this question of 358 global workers, and boy, did they answer!

Senders, you’re going to want to know the profound answers and surprising results they shared. Missionaries, find out what your brothers and sisters around the world are dealing with, and know you’re not alone. Everyone, these stats might be sobering, but we don’t end there. This episode is full of hope and ideas of what we can do next. Join the conversation!

 

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Transcript From the Episode

Welcome to Modern Day Missionaries, a podcast by Modern Day. Missions created for missionaries by missionaries. I’m your host, Stephanie Gutierrez Hey missionaries. How would you answer this question? Are you holding a secret that if your supporters sending church or sending organization knew about it, could jeopardize you being on the field? Well, Amy Young president of global trellis and former missionary asked this very question of 358 global workers. 

And boy, did they answer! The stats might be sobering, but we don’t end there. This episode is full of hope and ideas of what we can do next.

[00:00:37] Stephanie: Welcome to this episode of the Modern Day Missionaries podcast today. My friend, Amy Young is here with us, Amy, welcome to the podcast.

[00:00:45] Amy: Thank you, Stephanie. I’m so excited to be here and talk with you and talk with the listeners.

[00:00:50] Stephanie: Me too. We’ve got some fun stuff for you today. Let me tell you a little bit about Amy before we get started. She is a licensed counselor who served in China for nearly 20 years. She co-founded Velvet Ashes and founded Global Trellis as the founder of Global Trellis. Her current story involves helping great commissioned workers have tended souls and growing skill sets. And Amy, you’ll find her speaking at missions, conferences, and workshops all over the globe. Not only that, but she’s an author. She’s written six books, including Looming Transitions and Becoming More Fruitful in Cross-Cultural Work. Some of you may recognize her because we had her on the podcast in the very first season, talking to her about her Becoming More Fruitful book, and it was excellent. So we had to have her back. And today, brace yourself. It’s a hot topic. Today’s a hot topic day. We’re talking about issues missionaries are dealing with that we’re not talking about. And Amy did a presentation on this at a missions conference I was at recently. The room was packed. It was standing room only. And we knew Amy, we had to bring this for everybody to hear today. So missionaries have issues. Who knew? I mean, would you ever have guessed?

[00:02:01] Amy: I know, who knew? What was so interesting with that workshop in that conference, I presented it Friday night. And then the conference was also all day Saturday. I have had more people come up to me after that workshop, truly, than probably any other workshop I’ve done. And the response was just stunning of people being like, can I hug you?

Like there was a need to physically respond to this topic. It also in the room, since you were there, it was about equal numbers, men and women, more men came up to me afterwards than women to talk about this topic. It’s just, We’re on to something here. The Lord has led us on to this really important topic.

[00:02:41] Stephanie: Wow. And I would agree with what you said. I think what made it so powerful for me when I listened is the emotional reaction that we all had when we were in there. And it was based on information. It wasn’t like you were trying to hype us all out. There was factual information that you gathered from a survey you did, which we’ll ask you about in a second, and the information you presented was so powerful that we all in that room were sobered up and I think moved to action and I appreciate today because for everybody who’s living, listening, whether you’re a missionary, whether you’re a sender, no matter what aspect of missions you’re in, this is information you want to know for a missionary, you’re going to feel like, Oh my gosh, I am not the only one.

Like, this is what we’re actually dealing with. And for senders, I think it’s a bit of a shock. Honestly, I mean, when I looked at the other senders in the room, Their faces were a little stunned. Was that what you could see? If you were at the front of the room, you probably saw everybody’s faces.

[00:03:36] Amy: Yes. And, and I think what also helped was that that presentation was in the month of February, based on a survey we had done in the month of January. So, being able to say. This is what someone said within the last month. This isn’t data from five years ago or 10 years ago, or even the someone in the midst of the pandemic.

This was someone literally less than 30 days ago gave this data.

[00:04:02] Stephanie: Wow. Okay. So talk a little bit more about the study. Uh, what made you decide I need to do this? Where did it come from? Give us a little bit of background.

[00:04:11] Amy: Well, hilariously, it came from that conference. So as they were putting together the speakers in the fall, they said, Hey, Amy, like here are three different topics. And we were just trying to think of like, what might be an interesting topic? And one was, what are things missionaries are dealing with that we’re not talking about?

And I was like, Oh, that sounds interesting. And it marries my great love of doing surveys. I love to do surveys because I find, especially missionaries, I don’t know, I can’t say this is true for everyone, but for sure the people on the field, they are not asked. their actual thoughts and opinions and reality very often.

And so whenever I do a survey, there’s this huge hunger and they jump in and I get tremendous data. So I was like, this is fantastic. The workshop is in February. We’ll put out this survey in January. And really, because the, the core question was, do you have something that you think might jeopardize you being on the field?

Well, obviously if someone thinks they have something that might jeopardize them on the field. they want it to be anonymous. They want to be able to share. And so we didn’t gather that much like personal data at all. And so the responses, which you heard some of them, were so raw and so honest and so human and so touching.

Like you’ve just felt even the subcommittee who’s been going through the data with me, even though the answers, some of them are rather short, some are rather long. It’s amazing the tone and the feeling you can get from someone’s words, even when they aren’t saying that much. And there’s just such sort of freedom, shame, pain represented in these.

If, yeah, so that’s how it came about was that conference was like, Hey, how about if you do this? And I’m like, that sounds interesting. And interestingly enough, I think it was actually your husband who said to me afterwards, Amy, I feel like. It’s like you’ve struck oil, like you, you just, all of this stuff is coming up, like there’s so much more there, like this little bit, and truly even in that presentation, our challenge as the committee was the data, we gathered so much more data than we anticipated, this struck a chord so much deeper than we realized, that it was actually overwhelming.

And so how do we take all of this information and then package it in a way that those of you in that room and those of you hearing this and those of you later that are exposed to the, the data in other formats, are not totally overwhelmed?

[00:06:53] Stephanie: That’s something you’re so good at, Amy, is you are really good at being hopeful because it could have that it had somebody else been presenting the same information. I think it could have felt utterly overwhelming and discouraging, but, and we’ll get into this today as we talk, but you are such a hopeful, um, positive person, but you’re not so positive that you were afraid to shy away from the, the gravity of the information. But we talked about stuff at the end, like stuff that we can actually do.

Um, you know, the picture that I kept getting in my mind as you were sharing was a confessional booth. I just kept. I kept thinking about it.for them to be able to offload what was on their chest that they’d been possibly hiding, didn’t feel safe to be able to share, were nervous would get them pulled off the field. You, I remember one of the responses you read, somebody thanked you for the opportunity to write it.

[00:07:45] Amy: A number of people at the end of the survey said, thank you for a, just like the space to think about these things for ourselves and to name it and to say it out loud. And then other people were also saying, and B, thank you for giving a voice for listening to all of this. And now giving a voice and it did feel like a confessional booth where they could all go in and be honest, knowing what they’re going to say is going to be heard, but, but it won’t get traced back to them.

And so somehow I’m sort of like the mouthpiece of this message that, that God has for us right now.

[00:08:19] Stephanie: Well, and they shared it with you, I’m sure partly to get off their chest and partly because they wanted somebody to know. You share that kind of stuff in hopes that somebody, not that they’ll know specifically, but that they’ll know generally like, Hey, this is what we’re dealing with over here!

[00:08:32] Amy: And so diving into it, like, you know, this, but 358 people took the survey. So it wasn’t just like 20 people. 358 people took the survey and we started off asking just the question, Hey, Oh, first we just sort of wanted to get a sense of who is taking this.

So we had three categories. Are you on the field? Are you in some kind of support role in an organization or other? 79 percent were on the field. So basically 80 percent of the people taking this are on the field. 15.5 percent are in a support role and then about 5 percent are in other. I’m guessing that other are former missionaries and just, this is a topic that touches them, but 80 percent on the field, 15 percent in support and 5 percent in neither of those categories.

[00:09:23] Stephanie: Okay. So we have now set the stage. I’m sure everyone is like, just tell us what are we not talking about? What do we not know, Amy? So what were some of the results you got from that very provocative first question?

[00:09:35] Amy: The first question was just, yes or no. Do you have something that if supporters, if your organization or senders knew that you think would jeopardize you being on the field? 51 percent said, yes, we do. 49 percent said no, but 51 percent said, yes, we do have something. And then our next question after that was, uh, basically, what is your this?

Cause again, you know. This can be a very, and I’m making air quotes, very wide open. So it’s interesting, some people would write one thing. Some people, because it was open-ended, they wrote like three long paragraphs, unpacking three different things. So to go through 358 people, writing very different, these things and trying to put them in, in categories to help us kind of even see.

So in no particular order, this is, these are the big buckets of the this that might come up. Politics. So as of, as of the time that we’re, we are recording this, the war between Ukraine and Russia is going on, the war between Gaza and Israel is going on. There are a lot of elections going on in this year around the world. And so just if someone knew my political stance on this or that or the other, it might really jeopardize. So politics.

 Initially, we had put health in one bucket. Okay. But we realized we really needed to separate that into two. So one is physical health and emotional health. The number of people commenting on things related to emotional health.

And we really wanted to separate those because as we were talking about it, realized physical health seems a little more understandable or a little less shameful. Oh, it’s not your fault if you have cancer or it’s not your fault if you were in a car accident or it’s not Your fault if you know you sprained a hamstring playing soccer with the kids that you’re serving as opposed to emotional health can feel a little bit more. Well, what are you doing? Well, what are you? All that so that’s why we separated them out.

Next a lot of things related to sex and sexuality.

The next category we noticed a lot of things related to faith and theology, which is interesting and we can talk more about that, Stephanie. 

Number of people commenting related to their marriage. If people knew certain things about our marriage, it could jeopardize us being on the field. 

Organization. People who are with an organization that maybe there are parts of their organization they don’t agree with or they don’t like. And so people within their organization knew that that might not be the best for them.

A lot of information also about kids. Interestingly enough, adult children. So people who are missionaries who have adult children “back home,” wherever that is, and things going on with them that might really jeopardize. One small example of an adult child, um, a missionary on the field has an adult child that has recently been arrested for a pretty serious crime.

And so just, if people knew that my child has done this pretty serious, awful thing, what, how might that reflect on me or influence me? And then it’s your kid who has done something that breaks your heart, but it’s your kid and you love, like, it just gets really, really, really complex. Also, just lots of stuff with kids that are still in the home.

And you can, things with different age ranges. So teens, quite a few mentions around sexuality, things of my child is identifying as non-binary, or my child has expressed being a part of the LGBTQ group. Or that age and younger, a lot of anxiety around kids, and just the pressure as a parent, like you love your kid, you hate to see your kid wrestling with anxiety or depression, not having friends. I mean, all of those things that any parent anywhere is going to move them for their kid. But now you’re on the field and all those things. We can, obviously we could take any one of these, Stephanie, and massively unpack them. I’m just trying to give people a little bit of a flavor. 

The next area was debt and finances. It’s heartbreaking how many missionaries are dealing with debt and even going into credit card debt because they’re not raising enough support. Okay. And so just all of that, um, and then singleness, areas related to singleness, um, not so much that it might jeopardize them being on the field, but if supporters, if senders really knew what it was like to be single in certain parts of the world that are really unique, Muslim context for women, um, or just, you know, Europe, different parts of the world and different ages of singles, you know, for a 20 year old single, 50 year old single, all of that.

And then the last category, we just called it miscellaneous, because there were a lot of things where a couple of people did report them, but it wasn’t enough to put a whole group. For example, someone saying, if my senders knew that what I was sent to do is not what I’m actually doing. I’m having to spend so much more time doing X, Y, or Z to keep my visa going, so they all think I’m doing A, B, and C.

And then that internal tension of, am I misleading? Am I lying? And also, I don’t really want to be doing X, Y, Z. I want to be doing A, B, C, but I have to do X, Y, Z. Or others talking about if my supporters knew how much time I was spending on social media. A few reported eating disorders. Heartbreakingly, and this is just heartbreaking and a little stunning given the sample size.

I think, again, we, we forget how much suffering there really is out there. Two different people reported being sexually assaulted on the field. And people don’t know, um, 

[00:15:52] Stephanie: Wow. 

[00:15:52] Amy: for a whole variety of reasons, but just that they are carrying that. It breaks my heart. So those are the things, like we still wanted to capture them somehow to say there’s still a bunch of things that don’t fit in politics, physical health, emotional health, faith, and, and some of those it was like, where do we capture them in this category or that?

And we thought we’re not gonna get too bogged down in specifics. We’re just gonna notice these big categories. So those are the, this, which is such a range, isn’t it, Stephanie? Such a range of the this. 

[00:16:24] Stephanie: one thing I love that you did with us is you had us pause and guess which one we thought was the top two. 

And so I guess for our listeners, as they’re thinking right now, I would love dear listeners for you to pause and think of everything that Amy just said. What do you guess are the top two? And then Amy, or top three. So, Amy, would you share with us what those were?

[00:16:47] Amy: Yeah, the top three and it’s kind of surprising because they might not be what you would think from that list or what we think is out Like popular topics right now, but the top three are emotional health, faith and theology, and then marriage and singleness.

And I think from the results some of that probably isn’t going to be that surprising to you but the number of of missionaries who reported emotional health issues. It was very heavy to read through person after person after person reporting things related to emotional health and knowing again someone wrote this within the last 30 days.

Someone is dealing with this right now. This is their current lived experience. We’re not talking about missionaries in the 60s who were sent, you know, without the kind of member care and the kind of support we have now. These are people right now reporting this.

[00:17:52] Stephanie: So, in, within those three, what were some of the top things that you heard people saying? What were some patterns coming through in those three topics?

[00:18:01] Amy: Well, one thing that was interesting and I’ll share a few of the comments. We tried to capture the breadth and the depth because not one of them was just one thing. And that was the thing I think any of us hear, Oh, things related to marriage or things related to faith or things related to emotional health.

And you’re like, Oh, I know what you’re talking about. When really it was much broader, wider, and deeper. So for example, in emotional health, some people just talking about things like I struggle with rage and extreme anger towards a colicky child, a high sensory child, or a stressed child. Other people talking about like, I struggle with anger and I know I use it to manipulate and get my way.

So just the way that anger, and I think when we think about emotional health, we tend to think more of depression and anxiety, which absolutely came through in the survey, but these other aspects of emotional health. And I think any of us, like when we’re super angry and when we have that level of rage, we know that’s not who we want to be or how we want to be.

And yet whatever situation we’re in, we feel pushed into a corner. So to come out of it this way. So thinking of those parents with really highly sensitive kids, and it is exhausting to have a sensitive child. And again, you love them. This is your child. You love them. And trying to get well-resourced in your own home culture can be challenging enough, as opposed to now when you’re probably even more on display.

That was actually something else as the subcommittee and I really looked at this. If you notice in all of the results. politics, physical health, emotional, kids, debt, finances. Almost none of them are related to the work of ministry. Almost none was related to what someone is on the field doing. They’re all sort of under the big umbrella of being human.

And we began to notice like, these are just, we’re human, we’re single, we’re married, we have, you know, kids in relationship. views on politics. We have experiences with faith and theology that form us or inform us. All of these things are just part of being human. And I shared at the conference, I went over some of these results with a friend of mine, who’s a very strong believer, but has never lived on the field.

And it was so interesting, her reaction, because she was like, they’re human, just like us, just like me. Like we’re all human. Their kids have anxiety. Like I worry about my kids emotional health and their, and something in me literally like recoiled and backed up because I was like, on one hand, yes, we are all human.

There’s something beautiful about that. But on the other hand, if her takeaway was, Oh, we’re just all the same. I’m like, we’re not, you don’t get what it is like to be on the field. And as the community and I wrestle with, how do we communicate? It’s not just being human. It’s being human when the stakes are really different.

When suddenly if your kid’s anxiety gets to a, a level that it is not tenable to be on the field anymore. Well, then they, all of you may lose your home because you have to move somewhere. You now may be sleeping in someone’s basement. You’re having to figure out a new educational system. You are now.

You’ve lost your physical home. You’ve lost your job. You’ve lost your neighborhood. The stakes are so much higher. And so we were just trying to figure out what is going on with the humanity, the very humanness, but also the stakes.

[00:21:58] Stephanie: I think many of us have heard of the pedestal in, in cross-cultural work. And this, this idea that the missionary is up on the pedestal and we put them up on the pedestal. We were trying to think, I think that’s why then this, this, huge crisis of our humanity is coming out is because if you’re up on the pedestal to stay up there, you’ve got to be kind of superhuman.

[00:22:24] Amy: It doesn’t foster your humanity, and so we were really like, oh my goodness, and, and listeners, if you could see me, or picture in your mind this pedestal, and on one side are the goers, the people who have gone to the field, and on the other side are the senders, and we realized we both have inadvertently from both sides, the goer side and the sender side, pushed cross cultural workers up on the pedestal, and And if you’re like me, probably a lot of you recoil, you don’t like the language of the pedestal, but the thing is you’ve probably had others in your life who use it, who, who talk about like, you’re my hero.

I revere, like this language, it’s almost too much as opposed to, I really, I admire you for following the call of God. I admire you. I respect you for being willing to go into difficult situations. That’s very different. I respect you. I admire you versus you’re my hero. That, and so we were like, on the sender side, we realized they’re trying to honor the sacrifice and the willingness of people to go to the field.

And so in trying to honor that, it’s come out sideways though, we’re saying, well, they’re doing something. I don’t want to do, so therefore they’ve got to be, they must be superhuman. 

[00:23:46] Stephanie: from an honor into more of an awe.

[00:23:48] Amy: yes, yes, and then on the goer side, if you have enough people telling you, you’re not like me, you’re superhuman, you’re my hero, then what you internalize is, I have to be superhuman.

I can’t just be human. I have to be superhuman. And then you have the added pressure of your trying to be worthy of the money and the time and the prayer, the sacrifices that your senders have made. And, and to you, of course, they are real people, you know. who Mary Jones is, who’s sending in her money. You know, who the young family is, who’s behind, you know, praying for you and supporting you.

So you do want to be worthy. And so one of our big takeaways is that both sides, we need to like own our side and begin to dismantle this pedestal on the sender side, to stop using language of you’re my hero. And when we stop using hero language, we create space for humanity. 

It was interesting that was one of the takeaways in that room. So many people were like, Oh, I realized in trying to elevate them, I have squashed out their humanity. So how do we, as senders, how do we make space for humanity? And on the goer side, to also go, I don’t have to be superhuman. I can be human. And since that conference, I’ve been thinking about this so much, Stephanie, because I really do want us, I think if we get this, it could really change the tone for both sides.

So I’ve been thinking about superheroes and think about like Clark Kent wasn’t enough. He had to be Superman. Linda Clark, human Linda Carter wasn’t enough. She had to be Wonder Woman. And so how can we say, no, It is fine to be Clark. It is fine to be Linda. You don’t have to be Superman or Wonder Woman.

So communicate. I, I’m on a, I’m on a little mini bandwagon to remove the word hero from our language. Talk about sacrifice. Talk about admiring. Talk about respecting. Absolutely. But the hero language actually has the opposite effect of what we want. It diminishes humanity. instead of allowing for, Oh, wait, you have different political views than I do.

Okay. You have a different interpretation of something going on in the world. Okay. You have things with your physical health. You have things with your emotional health. Like then, then it gives more points of connection and more ways that we can honor our humanity and have our focus again, be on God and connecting with each other.

Okay. instead of, I have to be superhuman. I have to be like worthy of all of this that’s going on. Well, that’s a lot of pressure.

[00:27:01] Stephanie: It’s so heavy, Amy. I’m listening to you. And again, just because this is a part of my reality, your reality, that word hero is so heavy. And when you said that phrase, trying to be worthy, I mean, it just went off in me. I think that is such a common phrase that missionaries think, whether consciously or subconsciously. trying to be worthy, trying to be worthy. And we can never be worthy. I mean, we’re being set up to take the place of someone, something that only Jesus has done. Only Jesus. I was reading in Mark 9 the other day. I’m sorry, not Mark nine, John nine. And Jesus was talking to the Pharisees and the Pharisees were trying to determine where he got his authority from.

And he’s telling him his authority comes from God. And there’s this point, I think it was the new revised standard version where he. He just says this statement that, again, went off in my soul that was so strong and he said, I will not accept glory from human beings. I haven’t been able to shake that since I read it.

And it just makes me think so much of what you’re saying. We cannot afford to accept glory from human beings. Jesus knew that to accept glory from human beings would derail his entire calling. The second. He, even as God, but because he was still human and he was intending to point people to God, the second he took on any glory, that was a chance for the enemy to thwart his entire calling. And for us as missionaries, through people’s good intentions of using kind words, we can feel that temptation to accept glory. And that is the thing the enemy can use to either spike us into pride or to shoot us down to the depths because we know we’re not worth, worth, worthy of it. Only God is. So I, I really appreciate you bringing out those phrases. I’m, and I’m just so curious, even from our listeners to hear afterwards, how that hits them. Like, do they resonate? And I’m guessing, I’m guessing so. 

A little bit. Let me just say one thing about that came out with faith and theology. It’s interesting.

Yes. Thank you. Back up to that for sure.

[00:29:09] Amy: to back up to that, to kind of give some context for then what I’m going to say. And it doesn’t feel like, wait, that came out of left field. It was very interesting with faith and theology.

Again, people who take, took the survey, most people in global trials have been on the field at least five years. We know from just doing other surveys, many have been on the field 10, 20, 24 percent of people in Global Trollis have been on the field more than 20 years. Well, think about your interpretation of a passage of scripture, of how you might have interpreted it 20 years ago, and how you might interpret it now, just for things you’ve learned about the world, for things you’ve understand more, or, oh, I learned more about the biblical context, or this or that, like, just We have more nuanced understandings of, of things.

So there were quite a few people reporting they’re absolutely Team Jesus, 100%, but they are less sure on maybe some of the second tier issues. And some of the, the, the other issues where they were so clear, you know, let’s say 5 years ago, 10, 20 years ago, when they went to the field and due to being on the field.

Being in a very different culture, working with teammates from very different cultures, not just, you know, their home culture, seeing the world, and then that tension, though, of going back to a home culture that is much more homogenous, like, let’s say someone is from the United States, and they’ve been on a team with Kenyans, Germans, South Koreans, that’s going to form them, you know, And now you go back to your church that’s primarily Americans.

That is been kind of tricky on their faith. Also, a few big questions. I’m just pulling up my notes here, um, to read a couple of the questions related to faith. I was a little surprised how many people said they no longer believe in a literal hell. I would say the vast majority of people, like that didn’t even come up, so I’m assuming they are, they do still believe in a literal hell, but enough commented on it that it stood out to the subcommittee and me saying that they’re very willing to still share Jesus because he makes such a difference in this life. So again, for the most part, people taking this survey were 100 percent still Team Jesus, still about the Great Commission.

A few people did say like the stress they feel because a spouse, is maybe going through a crisis of faith. And so like, just that tension related to faith. Um, and as you know, a few people asked really, really significant questions. One person said, I feel like God is not fair. Another said, do I still believe the way I did when I started?

Why is the church and world so mean to women? Why is the church and world so mean to women? And a final question that I’ll just share right now. If God is coming to Muslims in dreams, why do we need to be here? If God is coming to Muslims in dreams, why do we need to be here? 

So some really significant questions around faith and theology. That obviously this podcast is not. the time right now to like answer any of those, but to create space to hold. These are people’s real questions. And what I did appreciate about this survey is you do have subjects coming out around emotional health, but you also have some really profound questions. And so for you get back to the, 

Okay, what do we do with all of this?

How can we as senders and even people on the field going? I think the first is, the first point we said is just to remember, we are all growing and changing. So, going to the field is going to change someone, even if they only go for 6 months. But if someone has been on the field 5 years, 8 years, 10 years, 25 years, they are not going to be exactly who they were when they left, which makes sense in our head, but to go, Oh, that they’re going to have had experiences. Maybe they are in an area where a lot of Muslims are having dreams and coming to Jesus, or it does seem God is really, really unfair. It seems that way. And if you don’t have places to kind of unpack this and you’re carrying it all yourself,

[00:34:06] Stephanie: yeah,

[00:34:07] Amy: It’s just really hard.

Other things that senders can do, committees, listening to this, people, organizations, is really to mandate and ask and validate taking time off. We find, we found a lot of people are asking questions, you know, how’s your ministry? Which of course we want to know. How’s your ministry? What’s happening? How is this certain political thing impacting you?

All of that, like we want to know, but if we’re never asking about things related to their humanity, are you getting enough sleep? How is your sleep? How are the cost of food? Like, are you able to buy fruits and vegetables? These things related to being human and then to, to mandate time off and then to incentivize it.

Is there a way you can have a special budget for taking time off, taking your kids to the movies? That’s why I’m like, sometimes it doesn’t have to be big, huge, like you don’t have to plan this massive vacation, but if once a month, you knew. that there was money for you and your kids to go to the theater and watch a movie and eat popcorn.

Like that just restores you and creates family memories and creates kids who are like, Oh my gosh, people cared about us so much. They made sure we went to see a movie every month and I got to have, you know, juju beans or whatever, like whatever kind of fun candy and being creative. If someone, someone is single.

Sometimes it’s really hard to find someone to go on vacation if you’re single and you, you have other good friends, but perhaps their academic year or their holiday schedule is very different. When the water festival in Laos is, it’s very different than whatever in Germany is. Would a mission, would a church be willing to pay for a friend to come and go on vacation with a single?

I mean, so I think it really is thinking about finances so differently than just these strictly  “missionary” or “ministry categories” and to go how have we accounted for humanity in here? How have we given space for humanity?

[00:36:30] Stephanie: I remember one thing that came up too in the session, Amy. We were talking, um, and then just talking to other missionaries before and since then, back to what you were talking about with those heavy faith questions. Like, as senders, what do you do if a missionary dares tell you some of those hidden thoughts? Because first of all, the odds are they aren’t going to tell you. I mean, from all the missionaries that I’ve talked to, um, cause I’ve been in a lot of positions where I’ve been a neutral party, you know, and they knew I was a missionary. So people opened up to me about, and I’m sure you too, about really heavy things, especially in the survey.

You’ve heard a lot now. And I know from those conversations, they would never. tell their church. And it’s, but it’s interesting on the flip side, I’ve talked to sending churches or sending organizations or people over them. And they’re convinced, Oh, of course, if they had a problem, they would tell me. We, we are safe people.

We’ve made a safe space for them to tell me. And the missionary is like, heck no. What do we do with that disconnect there? Totally.

[00:37:33] Amy: that really came up also people coming up to me after That it was very interesting in that room because people in member care. You could tell they were convinced because they are safe people, but I, I am now more convinced it’s the neutral parties. They may actually, the ironic thing is that person could be a very safe person to a missionary in another church, like I’m not saying they’re not safe people, but the truth is if there are finances tied to it. 

If you are, if you are a sender and there are finances tied to it, there is a power element. And so just to acknowledge there is a power element, there’s a slight power, um, gap it, and that’s not good or bad. That is just a fact and going there. We’re probably not going to be the safest place for these deeper topics

We’re going to be a safe place for the nice, beautiful mid-level kind of shallow topics. But for those really deeper ones, I would love to advocate provide a spiritual director, provide a counselor, provide a coach, like to have that neutral third party and let the neutral third party go short of you know, hearing a violation of a law or something.

I mean, there’s certain things we all have to report. If you think they are suicidal, if you think, you know, they have expressed that they committed a crime on the field. Outside of a very narrow. Bandwidth, whatever they share with you. Is confidential, and to create those spaces. And I know, committee, you wish it were you!

I wish it were you too, but that it’s not going to be probably that way. And so instead of either, and I say this with love in my, in my face, and I’m smiling at you, instead of deluding yourself that you are the exception, because we all think we’re the exception, instead of deluding yourself that you are the exception, factoring that in, and, you know, budgeting $500, 600 a year discretionary for each adult. So if it’s a married couple, $1,000. A single, $500. To get, to use as they see fit. Because maybe someone does need counseling and someone else doesn’t, but could benefit from a spiritual director. 

So to have that freedom, to use the discretionary money, the human, we can call it our humanity fund, to use the humanity fund.

And another thing we talked about at the conference was use what you’ve got. So if you’ve got someone who travels a ton at your church, they probably have points out the wazoo. Can they use those points for hotels, for missionaries to stay in a hotel or to have plane tickets or just other ways that you could use, use what you’ve got.

And it doesn’t always have to be money. It doesn’t always have to be money.

[00:40:47] Stephanie: Yeah. Oh my goodness, Amy. I want like, it is so hard for me to hold back right now from not asking you about everything else in there. I’m like, we didn’t even get to the part about marriage and singleness, which was the third one. 

So I want to provide for people where is a place where they can find out more, where they can really dig into these survey results and get more information.

[00:41:08] Amy: Well, at Global Trellis, we have recorded a version of that workshop that you saw, so that it can be watched, you as a committee, or you as an individual, and we’ve created a discussion guide to go with it. So, because after you’ve seen it, it is, it’s thought-provoking. it’s heavy, but also light, but hopeful, but also a little sad.

So it’s all of those things. So we wanted to give you a discussion guide to not again, just feel like I was just all this information. So that will be available at global trellis. com and they can go and find it at Global Trellis. Watch it, download the guide and have a discussion with your people about these results.

[00:41:54] Stephanie: Okay, so speaking of discussion, this is making me think too, because we’ve done a good job of talking about, you know, you talked about the, um, goers and senders and the pedestal and not using hero language and not accepting hero language. We’ve talked about senders and how they can create neutral parties and invest in missionaries. 

And I’m thinking for missionaries, a practical step for them around what you just said with conversation is, I wonder if there are places where they could have a small group or find other missionaries that they could create that safe space with. There’s obviously the side of the professional, but then there’s the side of just going, you too, me too, or looking at each other and going, what’s, what’s your crazy baggage that you’re bringing into this space? There’s something about it. It doesn’t always have to be a professional. It’s awesome when it is, but also we find healing. Like James says. in talking with friends. 

So expounding on that, um, any other practical suggestions you would have for missionaries as to how they can use this information and grow healthier as a result of it?

[00:42:52] Amy: That was one of the things, as, as I said, we have barely touched on the top of the iceberg of all of the information that was in that, in in that survey. And so, and there was a real hunger among those who took the survey, like, we want to know the results. So we want to share, we’re going to share the results.

And, but we realize just doing an overview isn’t going to be enough. So we want to take each one of the areas and kind of have like a month-long discussion where it could be a Zoom or to have, to begin to break down where you can actually talk to people about these.

And our role at the moment for Global Trolls, we do have the broader perspective of all of the data.

So to kind of say, these are all the things that came out around politics. These are all the things that came out around, um, sex, sexuality, and gender. And, and I, what, what I’m thinking is helpful is to kind of hear it, have some time to think about it, process it, pray about it, and then come back and have discussions and to create some discussion guides and to create some safer space, not just like in a public blog comment space, but to be able to have these, cause you’re right.

I think there’s so much we can do. just to bring them to light. Think how much in Scripture. Things grow in the dark, but when they’re brought to light. It just seems more manageable. They don’t, they sometimes don’t seem as large as they do in the dark, or someone else is like, me too, or someone else is like, well, here’s something that helped me.

And, and we do resource each other. We do support one another. And just to go, Oh, I’m not the only one with a kid who da-da-da, or I’m not the only single who really wrestles with wanting to be sexually active, but wanting to follow God’s best of saying, Hey, wait for marriage. Like all the, just those things related to being human.

[00:44:56] Stephanie: Yeah, no, you’re right. Achy things grow in the dark. Think about mold and all the junk that grows in the dark. So achy things grow in the dark, but healthy things grow in the light. And so putting that stuff in the light is, is going to be, it’s, it’s the beginning of the process of killing it. We got to get there.

There’s, it’s so scary to say something out loud for the first time. It is terrifying. I was with a friend, uh, six months ago who shared something. deep that she’d never shared with anybody before. And, and I saw the absolute fear on her face when she first said it. And then I saw the freedom afterwards. And then as we kept talking about it, each time it came up, It was so much lighter, not like a little bit lighter, like so much lighter. And suddenly we were talking about it in a neutral space because when you bring something up with the intention of finding healing, if I’m bringing up to brag about it or because I want to confess it to 

[00:45:53] Amy: Or gossip or 

[00:45:54] Stephanie: go along with my sin.

Yeah, like, will you please applaud my sin, because I want to just get it out because I’m doing this and I’m just going to keep doing it. That’s different. But if we’re putting it into the light with the intention of finding healing, um, God will do it. God will do it. So I appreciate you bringing all these things to the table.

I’m hoping that this will inspire some courage and some, uh, bravery in people who listen like, okay, I have some stuff. Who am I going to tell? Who am I? Maybe they don’t have somebody yet. So maybe that’s their goal that this month. I’m going to find it. I’m going to call a counselor at Vallejo or I’m going to reach out to this pastor I know, or I’m going to call a mentor.

I’m going to find a spiritual director. And at Modern Day, we’re constantly putting out resources with counselors, spiritual directors. Um,

[00:46:41] Amy: was going to say, even just going back to what you said, going, Oh, there is this friend I haven’t talked to in two years, but we really click. She would be, or he would be the one to go. God probably has some resource in your life. Use it, tap into it. And, and that’s why even as heavy as this was, this to me is so life-giving.

because the freedom on the other side, the, the I’m not alone, the insights that when these things feel so big and you do think this will jeopardize me being on the field, it leads to hiding and kind of pretending and shift, shift shaping. Of course, all of us need to be wise and not every context is the place to share everything.

But when you have no context to share something, then that’s when it becomes a millstone around your neck. And think of what Jesus said to the Pharisees who were putting millstones around the kids. Jesus does not have it at all. He wants us to be free. And so that’s why I was like, yes, I would love to talk to you, Stephanie, about this topic because I think I’m sorry for those of you who have horrible, horrible anxiety.

And I also know. Jesus has something for you. You may still wrestle with anxiety the rest of your life. I’m not trying to promise total health and, you know, prosperity gospel. But I also believe it doesn’t have to be the way it is right now. That it can be better. That Jesus doesn’t want you to bear it alone, whatever it is.

If your marriage is, is awful. One person described their marriage as loveless and their family life is chaotic. That’s not what God wants for anyone. For those to be the description of their life, loveless and chaotic. And so to find ways to begin to let God’s love enter and to let, instead of the chaos that the devil, he wants us in chaos, the accuser of our souls delights in nothing more than us feeling internally so chaotic.

So distressed, so unworthy, but that is not the lover of our soul, loves us. And so that’s why I know you are looking forward to this conversation, Stephanie. So is I, because we’re like, what is God going to do in this? Once this hits publish, like what is God going to do? 

So listener, actually, I don’t know if this is possible, but we would love to hear from you. What is God doing as you’ve heard this? Email back! Yeah. 

[00:49:26] Stephanie: We have an email, care@modernday.org. And so we would love for anybody to pop us an email. Let us know how you resonated with the episode. Let us know what you’d like to hear more of. Um, you can use it as a confessional space if you want to, but whatever you want, we, we would love to hear from you

Uh, so thank you for mentioning that, Amy. Yeah. Absolutely. And then get in touch with Amy as well over at Global Trellis. So make sure to head on over there, So you’ve got next steps, everybody, whether you’re a goer, whether you’re a sender, you’re all a doer in one shape or form. So, uh, take that next step to get healthy or help your missionaries get healthy. So we just appreciate you joining us so much today, Amy.

Thank you. That was every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be.

[00:50:10] Amy: Oh, Stephanie, it’s delightful to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time as well.

[00:50:15] Stephanie: Oh yes. And all of you dear listeners, thanks for joining us today. Shoot us an email with your thoughts and we look forward to seeing you on our next episode. 

Since 2008, Modern Day Missions has been providing financial, administrative, and marketing services to Christian missionaries around the globe. We’re currently partnered with more than 750 missionaries in 75 different nations. If you or someone you know are looking for a nonprofit covering to fulfill your mission’s vision, Modern Day could be the answer you’re looking for.