When my husband Charles and I were dating, Pastor Duttry was preaching through the book of Ruth. It was a terrific series and we listened with great excitement. God was preparing us for our journey together. As a missionary wife, it is my role to love and support my husband so he can have confidence that I will follow him wherever God leads him.
“...Intreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgeth, I will lodge:” RUTH 1:16
This verse is so applicable to the missionary wife. Still, while Charles is the head of our home and leader of our ministry, there is more to the role of the missionary wife than just following my husband. Here are three ways in which God allows me to help in His work.
It is my pleasure as a missionary wife to aid my husband in exemplifying love to our people. There is no Biblical foundation in Uganda therefore they have little concept of love. The Luganda word “jagaIa” means to want, to like, to love. Their language does have a separate verb for love. Can you imagine love being synonymous with want? As love is associated with giving (John 3:16), I often prepare something for a church member that I know they will like. For instance, Carol enjoys caramel corn and Mark enjoys cornbread. You know the old saying, “Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven.” As a missionary wife I need to be an example in exemplifying love. This can be accomplished through acts of “giving.”
Seeing love displayed is so uplifting. In June of 2013, my son Charles Jr. was hospitalized overnight. My husband spent the night at the hospital with Charles Jr. Mark Nagaba (a faithful man in our church) spent the entire night at the hospital as well even though he had to go to work the next day. What an example! Nothing illustrates love better than the giving of your time.
As a missionary wife I find it critical to build relationships with people. My home is always open for fellowship. Recently, Charles has been dealing with a medical situation. When we were unsure of Charles’ prognosis, we had a prayer meeting at our home. I served popcorn and juice. The kids played outside while the adults prayed. It brought great joy to hear our wonderful, faithful men pray for Charles, their preacher. It was dark outside by the time we finished. None of our guests would accept the transport money Charles offered them to get home. This was extraordinary in a culture that does not often express love! Building relationships can be an expression of love.
Our home is our first ministry, so the children’s education consumes a lot of my time. Our children are homeschooled using the Abeka Book® curriculum. We use this curriculum because it is very thorough. When we are on furlough, we place our children in Milford Christian Academy (MCA) at First Baptist Church of Milford, Ohio. This allows us to check their progress and also helps our children develop socially. We feel it is important that our family stay connected with our home church and its Christian school.
In 2015, MCA changed their uniforms to a new style. We happily accepted some of the old style uniforms that would fit our children for the next few years. We even have a separate room in our house for homeschool. We believe the school uniforms and a specific room for teaching helps build a more formal learning atmosphere. We begin school on August 1st and end in April. Holidays are celebrated and I bake something extra special for each occasion. I have picked up many festive tablecloths (on sale) to help us keep track of the seasons in America. Valentine’s Day of 2016 was especially memorable. A sweet lady from our home church in Milford sent a box of Valentine treats. Her thoughtfulness meant a lot and reminded me of my favorite verse, Matthew 6:26. God cares about every aspect in our lives, even the little things. The day before the treats arrived, I had told the Lord that I wished the children could have a nice class party like they had in America. God had answered my prayer before I had even prayed! It takes a minimum of three weeks for a package to arrive but God had everything worked out.
Teaching Sunday school is another opportunity to be an educator. I have a very special student in my class named Isaiah. Isaiah is interested in every word that I say and never loses eye contact. Isaiah then goes home and teaches the Sunday school lesson to his mother. Many times parents will hear their own children more than they will hear another adult.
Correspondence is a vital part of the life of a missionary wife. I make an effort to respond to anyone who writes. We certainly need the prayer support! There are precious Christian ladies from supporting churches that send me email messages. These ladies have become dear to my heart. It is good to communicate with other missionary wives. Jeannette Joyner calls me almost every Tuesday, even on furloughs. She bakes wonderful cakes for our birthdays. We can relate to each other and share our concerns. She has been a missionary wife for over thirty years and her key advice to others is to have a Plan B. A magnet on her refrigerator reads, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.” It is my goal to emulate her and reach out to new missionary wives.
I also try to stay in touch with grandparents. We keep them up to date with plenty of photos. I love taking pictures of my children (they grow so quickly).
One of the greatest lessons I have learned as a missionary wife is that your location does not determine your spiritual condition. I heard this while listening to a sermon by Pastor Barry Rackley. At the time, I had two children under the age of fourteen months, so I could not sit through an entire church service. I was thinking, “If I just had the convenience of a nursery (like in the States) or if grandparents were nearby, I could grow more as a Christian.” Brother Rackley’s statement gripped my heart. Spiritual struggles are faced everywhere and growth is a choice.
Remember Moses in the wilderness? He was there by God’s design (for training). “And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him…And he said, Here am I.” Exodus 3:4. Moses was prepared for the next step of obedience. Perhaps God is calling you to the mission field. He will take you there, one step at a time. Dr. Charles Keen once said, “Missions is the highest form of our gratitude.”