When Being a Missionary gets Messy

It is not too often a missionary will let you in on the “messes” of ministry. You know the ones I’m talking about. The muck and the mire, the things that bog us down as Christians, the discouraging roadblocks, the icky details. Why would we not want to share that? Because it’s too much. Messes happen too often, it’s ministry. If missionaries told you about every “mess” it would be overwhelming.

But I’m going to share one with you because it is still on my mind a few days later. John and I have been trying to help a woman named Juanita get on her feet. I mentioned her in one of my posts trying to raise money for her kids to go to school (that money was raised). It is a sad situation. Only one that poverty and sin could create. Juanita is emotionally dead, she has basically given up. John and I have been back and forth talking about how much help is too much. We don’t want her to depend on us, but we came to the conclusion that we were watching her kids suffer for her mistakes. We have helped her children out as much as possible without Juanita becoming financially dependent on us. They will be in school tomorrow, after not attending since last year.

Juanita gave two of her children away to villagers. One child is with a very dependable family, and one child is not. I believe that one child has been placed in a worse situation spiritually than she was with her mother. It has been heart wrenching for me to watch. I encouraged Juanita to get that child back, but the child made a fuss and Juanita decided to leave her. The child does not know yet who is raising her and what the repercussions of that could be, but I know, and Juanita knows. Juanita just lacks the desire to do anything about it. Another layer of sadness. I again encouraged Juanita to bring her child to the city with us so we can get her uniforms, and encourage her to live with her mom again, and Juanita said she would.

The next day on our way to pick up the kids we stopped at the house where the child was and the caretaker of her came out and gave me a piece of her mind. Telling me I had no business taking the child to the city because she is watching her now (regardless of whether Juanita wanted her to go or not), and she has given her school uniforms. She then told me harshly that I’m to have nothing to do with the child and proceeded to spew out a couple of lies about me. This person is 16. Hardly someone old enough to take care of a needy child, and not old enough to be speaking to me in such a way. But not even her parents can control her. And here she is taking care of one of Juanita’s kids. She then asked John and I to leave the child alone. We drove off and I burst into tears. Not because I was embarrassed or angry but because I was so sad that the child would grow up with such a caretaker, and that I would have to let it go for now. We did all we could, and now anything we do will further hurt the situation, so we will continue to pray. Then, the nasty lies she said about me came creeping into my head like a sneaky snake. Would I indulge myself in pity? Oh, how I wished I could! But I knew they were the enemies lies and I could not. I allowed myself to cry hard.

I said to John later, “What a mess, should I have gotten involved?” and John said “What if you had not gotten involved at all? The other option was to ignore the situation and would that have been right? You did the best you could with what you had.” Thank God for a steady husband for this emotional wife.

So what do we do now? Well, we help out Juanita and her children when we can, show kindness to the caretaker of Juanita’s daughter when the situations arise, and pray…. hard. And ask you all to pray for this messy situation…hard. You see, God is telling me that I am now powerless to do anything, He wants me to step aside and let Him show His power I believe. He will get all the glory when everything works together for good. He is saying to me, “Mel, you are weak, but I AM STRONG. Trust me to work it out, I can clean up ANY mess.” Sometimes God allows us to help Him clean up a mess and other times God wants to clean it up on His own or allow the mess to run its course. Either way obedience and discernment are required. What glorious lessons I am learning here. Glorious and messy.

9 thoughts on “When Being a Missionary gets Messy

  1. Jennifer Bjorgen

    Wow, Mel, I am so excited to see how you are learning to trust the Lord and growing in wisdom and discernment. You are so right, sometimes we just get in God’s way and need to “stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.” I do understand your burden for this family, though, and will be praying with you for them.
    Wondering how the devotional at the ladies’ meeting went yesterday?


    Grandpa and I just got off the phone from talking to mom Bj. You are correct in your trying to help Juanita’s daughter. Now you know how the stituation stands. The teeanage MOTHER needs the help more than the child. So now God is has the master plan and may use you and John to Implement it.

  3. Evan

    I think you and John handled it with great compassion and wisdom. We will be praying hard!

  4. Donna Chapman

    This child’s name is written on GOd’s hand and He will not forget her or abandon her. We join you in prayer for Juanita and the child. I celebrate the fact that you and John are willing to get down and dirty in the trenches of life with the poor and abandoned. James 1: 15-30 May you have peace.

  5. Katy Short

    John’s grandmother once told me, “God never uses a bandaid to fix problems.” I have often thought of that when I tried to fix something and was severely thwarted at every corner. So be patient and pray while you sit in His waiting room. (That is another Marge-ism.) God will fix the problem in His will and way, and you will grow too as you watch Him work .

    I know it seem like a bunch of cliches, but they are true anyhow.

  6. Paul & Phyllis Hull

    We are doing a study called “Experiencing God” by Blackaby. This weeks lesson is on responding to God immediatly but also to wait for Him as he prepares us to do the job. I want to jump right in and fix the problem whether I’m prepared or not. We will pray and see what God is going to do about this “messy situation”.

  7. Valerie Wilson

    Bless your heart, Melissa. I would continue to work on Juanita’s heart. It’s really up to her to rescue her child. It’s all a process but God is in control and things will be as they should. Thanks for sharing so openly, what you and John are doing in Belize is no easy feat. If it were, more of us would be doing it. Feel the power of God working through you and let Him push away your doubts and fears.

    Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?

    Lots of love to you, John, Evangeline, Ellis and Baby E #3


  8. Jodi

    Hey Mel and John,
    Thanks for sharing Mel…wow, what a situation and you guys did do the right thing with getting involved, and also for sharing with us so we can pray along with you and for you! God is already steps ahead and ready for what is to come and will be there with you, the child, Juanita and the 16year old that the child was left with….we will be praying for everyone involved for sure! Hang in there sweetie!

  9. Darlene Millican

    Thanks for sharing this, Mel. I certainly understand & I’m glad we know how to pray with you about this matter. Please keep us informed. We do have a BIG God.
    Hope you are feeling better now. When is the baby due?
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

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