Modern Missions and Troubles We Experience Working Overseas

The Troubles We Experience Overseas

Modern missions and work overseas are complicated, deeply challenging and full of struggles.

Things we never imagined.

Things generations before us maybe didn’t experience.

Yet, things every generation has experienced in one way or another.

“Elayna, wash your feet… I think we just walked through a pile of gecko poop.”

I’d looked down and saw a smashed dark spot and knew that one of our resident geckos had left us a present right in the doorway of the girls’ room.

Sure enough, I had a matching black spot on my foot too.

Gross. So not beautiful feet

These are the minor troubles we experience.

Although, at 9pm, after a long day of other such minor discomforts, they all pile up to one BIG issue. They can seem more annoying than they really are. Which means it is time to sleep. Time to hibernate in our air conditioned room, a treat that only lasts just 8 or 9 short hours.

I washed my feet and finished our end of day routine and I reflected upon our last few days.

We’d had joys and sorrows.

Modern Missions and Troubles We Experience Working Overseas

But at the end of the day, the sorrows sometimes seem to overpower the good.

The struggles and weight of life here.

The greater troubles we experience in this modern mission in West Africa.

Imagine the spiritual darkness… 95% of it… all around you.

Imagine actually living and realizing and comprehending the truth of the 10/40 window and the challenges the Church faces to finish the Great Commission. Imagine living in that window and feeling the lostness around you.

Imagine staring it in the face. every day.

It is heavy. Sad. Dark. Oppressing. Strong.

My dad and I were having a conversation recently about what we were going to have to report at the end of our first term. I was sharing with him a few recent experiences we’d had, talking about the real issues facing missionaries working in this part of the world.


Quickly, a bunch of things ran through my mind.

Things like counting converts and how that is changing in the scope of modern missions. How in these countries, the numbers will be discouragingly low with years and years of hard labor.

How this isn’t new, the struggle here. Missionaries have labored for generations but the ground is just that hard. The troubles experienced are just that big.

The Joshua Project and their explanation of the 10/40 window. Their website states, “The 10/40 Window includes numerous spiritual strongholds. The billions of people who live in the 10/40 Window have suffered not only the ravages of poverty and disease, they have also been kept from the transforming power of the Gospel. They are poignant examples of the truth expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:4, which states that “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Modern Missions and Troubles We Experience Working Overseas

They literally can. not. see. It is a blindness that I can’t describe. I only feel. Jeremy and I sense it and acknowledge it and this aspect of modern missions breaks our hearts.

A few weeks ago, we all had been feeling a little off… headaches, nauseous, tired… for a few days, and a missionary friend said, “Yes. We feel like that a lot. It is spiritual. Pray.”

The next morning, I literally told the heaviness to leave in Jesus’ Name before I got out of bed. And it did.

But the pressure to show you more is there.

And I thought, “All we have to report is how hard this is! How many bad moments we experience in a day. We have so much to learn… we are humbled and daily reminded that our obedience matters and God must do the rest. He opens doors. He puts us in the right place at the right time… and often we don’t even know we were there! He does this. We can’t fake it or manufacture it or produce it. Not here. For real life to flood this place, God must and will do the work.”

And then I thought, “I can’t keep telling them all this. My blog can’t be one hard post after another… I do not want to complain or make them think we have horrible days all the time. We actually have a lot of great days!”

But God whispered, “You must. You must share real days behind the prayer card.”

At the same time, I was reading in 2 Corinthians and reading Paul’s words as if for the first time.

Words that apply to modern missions in the same way they applied to his mission so long ago.

My Bible notes say that the words weakness, grief, tears, danger, distress, suffering… all major themes in this book of the Bible. Paul was writing about THESE very things… the struggles, the hardships, the challenges of his missionary journeys.

In verses 8-10 Paul explains why he writes out their troubles, the realities of their daily life.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

That spoke volumes to me and I heard God whisper again, “Keep telling them. Keep sharing. Don’t leave them uninformed.”

Sharing our troubles, although not comparable to what Paul had experienced, reminding you all of the difficulties, the spiritual darkness, the challenges we face in missions in the 10/40 window… it all has a purpose in modern missions.

These things remind us ALL that we can’t rely on ourselves but on God.

By sharing the difficulty, reminding myself and you that God is at work, MANY will give thanks because we WILL see God do something amazing through the difficulty.

Paul says in verse 12 that “…since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”

Bold to tell you how hard this is, how impossible it feels, how weak we are and how BIG God is so he gets every ounce of glory in this hard place.

Then, in 2 Corinthians 4, Paul goes on to say, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

We will not. Whether we have a thing to report or not, we will not lose heart. No matter the challenges ahead, we will not lose heart. On days we can not speak the language and opportunities pass us by because we don’t have the ability to communicate clearly. When the walls of relationship building are very high and the cultural learning is beyond huge. We will not lose heart.

It is not about us anyway.

Paul continues saying, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed... Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Modern Missions and Troubles We Experience Working Overseas

The Church has the opportunity for a front seat view of what God is doing and is going to do in these dark places around the globe. To give and support and pray. To not lose heart. To keep giving and supporting and praying anyway.

Read Is Missions a Joke? Answering the critics.

Our report will be that He has done great things. Our report is that we keep our eyes on the unseen, eternal impact of our obedience. Our report will be of thankfulness for a #buggingyouteam that literally goes with us in prayer and in giving every single day. Our report will be of things to come here in West Africa.

We are honored and blessed to be in modern missions, sharing Jesus around the world. Thankful.

It is our prayer that as we keep you informed, keep you walking in step with this process and share from behind the prayer card, you will grow in understanding, grow in faith, grow in prayer, grow in giving and give God ALL the glory for ALL He has done.









  1. Jenilee,

    Thank you for sharing from the heart. So many times we feel we can’t share these thoughts with others. Our family is currently serving in Nicaragua and I can say that some days are harder than others. However, the difference for us in the area we serve is that people are so receptive to the Gospel. Praying for you and your family!

    1. yes, some days are harder than others. So much good but the rough stuff seems under a microscope, looking bigger than before. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Thank you for continuing to share! I continue to stand in awe of the strength of your whole family I’m such a difficult place to live. I think your blog touches far more people than you know and I hope you will continue to share it all- the frustrations and the joys !

  3. So true. I had one of those days yesterday, nothing too major, just a lot of little things in a hard place. It is hard, and it is a blessing at the same time. Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by the privilege of seeing the light of God shine in a dark place.

  4. Share with openess. Share with boldness. Share about the 10/40 window that is so misunderstood and so underfunded and SO unreached. Share. God will go before you to soften the hearts of those stateside who don’t “get it”, who have never lived it, and who quiet frankly may think you are just crazy. Share it because if nothing else your stories of the hard times and how God has carried you through will help missionaries after you the newbies who will share their own stories someday. Your stories and you blog help open the eyes and hearts of people back home and God is using you, not only in Africa but around the world to whoever reads your blogs.

  5. Beautiful truth in this post. Just got back to Haiti after 6 weeks of traveling around the states, speaking at churches, sharing the hard things, sharing the good things. Sharing what God is doing in so many lives here. One person asked me what miracles I have seen on the mission field. I told him that one thing I have learned in Haiti is that even though I want God to work in LOUD, OBVIOUS ways, that’s not always how He chooses to work. Sometimes His miracles are in the quiet, tender moments that you don’t notice unless you are looking. Sometimes the miracles are in the little things, like the smile of an 8-year-old girl who feels loved for the first time in years.
    And these little things are actually HUGE things.
    Keep your eyes on Him! Keep telling your story, their story…His story.

    Love from Haiti,

    1. “Sometimes His miracles are in the quiet, tender moments that you don’t notice unless you are looking” yes… thank you for sharing your experience, your story here, with me!

  6. This was a perfect timing read for me. I have just been overwhelmed lately by the list in ministry being expected of me. Expectations of familiarity…. it’s what I have done for years. Rachel will do it because that’s what she does. But there are other things I am looking at again in my list of ‘to-do’s’ and wondering and praying if that is still my job to do. What is the truth of what I am to do? I’ve been contemplating all of this when I came across your post in my inbox. I don’t always read but today I clicked over. (That prompting of the Holy Spirit) And this is what I found…. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” That is truth, Jenilee. The truth I needed to hear again today. I feel hard pressed on every side, but I’m not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…. though outwardly I feel I’m wasting away… inwardly…. I must to stay in the place of being renewed day by day with His Presence. He is what sustains. He is what keeps us going. We fix our eyes on Him. Not on what is seen but on what is unseen, for what is unseen is eternal. Thank you, Jenilee, for this reminder.

    1. I love that prompting of the Holy Spirit! I’m SO glad you clicked over and thankful, blessed that you heard God’s voice through those verses. What a great encouragement to know that we can be renewed, day-by-day, in His presence. So nice to hear from you!

  7. It helps us to know the true battles you face, as well as the joys and victories. We will continue to pray for the light of Christ to break the darkness.

  8. Thank you for posting this. I am going back to Mozambique in October to be a missionary nurse at a children’s centre. This post was encouraging for me to know that I am living a live of purpose. I love the verse you posted (verse 8-10). it is one i will send my prayer supporters to encourage them.

    1. yes, it encourages us to be real and share our struggles, knowing that God has a purpose in it all. He is at work! Praying for safe travels for you. Thanks for sharing that with me!

  9. Jenilee, thank you for this post. I’m currently lying down in a bed surrounded by a mosquito net in African summer with no air conditioning. I have been in Malawi only a month and can feel the spiritual darkness so thickly. I am trying to let my faith overcome my fear as I am here for two more months. Thank you for showing the side of missions many people don’t see. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and I want you to keep me in yours, too!!

    1. Absolutely… you can do this because God is WITH YOU! Pray, sing, trust… it is truly learning to let your Light shine, yes? Thank you for sharing that with me. I’ll be praying!!

  10. Thanks Jenilee for sharing your families struggle on the mission field. You are right God will eventually bless your obedience. The hard part is waiting on his timing. May God continue to bless and protect you and your family.

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