Burnout can hit missionaries, prayer is needed

By September 12, 2006

International (MNN) — Burn out! It’s a common phrase used to describe someone who has worked tiring hours, used so much energy and now struggles to find the energy to press on. They’re tired. They lack creativity. It’s common in the business world.

Can it happen in missions? Yes, but SEND International Eurasia director Carl Kresge is sensing something different happening with some of their missionaries. “There have been an unusual string of physical problems, of emotional challenges, of missionaries needed to leave the field for a time for a variety of reasons.”

Kresge says it’s not wide-spread, but he’s noticing it more. He says this kind of work is difficult. “Cross-cultural missions, when that culture is very different than your own culture, can take a toll on our missionaries over the years. I’m not talking about the typical culture shock that comes in the first year or so, more of a gradual wearing down that can happen over many years.”

According to missionaries around the world, they all go through cycles where they’re really excited about the work and sometimes really discouraged. Kresge says that’s why constant prayer for missionaries is important. “Asking God for protection, for joy in ministry, for energy and the motivation and the power to continue to serve over the long haul. We really need God’s people around the globe to be partnering with us and participating with us in the prayer effort.”

Prayer isn’t the only thing you can do to help missionaries, says Kresge. He says regular communication with missionaries in the field can help keep their needs constantly on your mind and in prayer on a daily basis.

Kresge doesn’t want to paint the picture that any of their missionaries are burned out, because that’s not it. He says, “God has brought us quality missionaries with not only great character, but great love for Him and they’re pressing on. The ‘pressing on’ can sometimes get old and get wearying.” Especially when you’re not seeing results like you once saw.

If you’re interested in praying for SEND International missionaries, contact SEND for more information.

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