Facing the Problem of the Missionaries’ Children -- By: Jack B. Churchill

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 07:2 (Spring 1966)
Article: Facing the Problem of the Missionaries’ Children
Author: Jack B. Churchill

Facing the Problem of the Missionaries’ Children

Jack B. Churchill

[Rev. Jack B. Churchill has been a missionary in Argentine with the Foreign Missionary Society of the Brethren Church since 1949. He is presently on furlough in California.]

At a recent conference the following question was put to some missionaries: “Why are some missionaries’ children such brats?” Such bluntness provokes reactions. It is not the purpose of this article to assume the role of the missionary parent and defend or excuse. Nor will it be to join in the spirit of the person who asked this question. Our aim will be to direct attention to the over-all problem that this rather tactless question brings up. While no one solution can be given, a frank discussion and some positive suggestions may be of help. One missionary parent, when approached on the subject said, “I cannot give you any of the answers, but I can tell you a lot of the problems.”

This article is not being written to arouse undue sympathy for missionaries and their children, nor to increase the height of the “pedestal” that they are often placed upon. More than missionary families are involved here. The pastors and the congregations that support missions have a definite stake in the well-being of their missionary families. Therefore, the purpose here will be to point out some of the particular problems that missionary families face, as parents and children, in the years they are on the field, and to view the complications that develop upon return to the States.

When a missionary couple goes out to the mission field, its witness to Christ and the Christian life is more than that of the two individuals. Something else has been added. It is their joint witness as a Christian family. Here is a place where one and one makes more than two.1

These words from the pen of a recognized authority on missions point out the value of Christian family life on the field. In certain areas of the world family ties are very weak according to Biblical standards. A missionary mother in New Guinea describes this when an oil company representative appeared to recruit workers.

Real drama took place at the water’s edge during all this…I can’t see how some of these married men can go off without more than five minutes’ thought, to be gone for so long. Three of them have wives expecting babies within a month or less. They do not seem to feel any responsibility toward their families even though they are Christians and love them.2

In some Roman Catholic countries one of the most common criticisms made by the pe...

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