The following is a guest blog entry [Editor: Used with permission] from, serving in the Phillipines. I found it extremely helpful as I seek to understand and address attrition rates among missionaries. No one starts on the long and expensive journey to minister cross-culturally to end up either sick or emotionally distraught and hopeless. Nonetheless, it happens all too often.
I trust you find it as insightful as I did. Thank you Brian and Bailey. Find their website here.
Shortly after we arrived in the States, some of our friends (both missionaries on their first term) started having somewhat mysterious major health issues that have brought them home to the US to get checked out. Doctors are mostly baffled by the ailments because there is no clear cause. It’s truly puzzling. Then I came across this post on another missionary’s blog which quantifies stress based on a modified version of the Holmes-Rahe Scale. After reading this, it’s no wonder missionaries are so weird!
Just for fun, I took the unmodified, original, Holmes-Rahe test for Bailey and I and scored 532 points. My results were accompanied by this warning, “OVER 300 POINTS: This score indicates a major life crisis and is highly predictive (80%) of serious physical illness within the next 2 years.”
The test I took didn’t include any of the bonus features we deal with like:
-- “Cross-cultural living in a community where we don’t speak the language”
-- “Almost crashing into someone or something in the truck several times every day on the way to work”
-- “Flying small planes onto jungle airstrips while Bailey flight follows”
-- “Knowing that every time I fly or work on the airplane I have the potential to make a bad and fatal decision”
-- “Instructing kids what to do if a cobra wanders into the yard while they’re playing” [Editor/Keith: I have not dealt with any cobras in Europe, but I have dealt with a number of snakes. Ha.]
[The following is a link to a helpful article] from this blog and I feel it is right on point. Our hearts are heavy as we see so many missionaries suffer from strange illnesses that are impossible to diagnose. Not all are stress related, but it makes you wonder. It isn’t just missionaries either. We see many of our friends, family and supporters who are struggling with unimaginable stresses in the US as well but are pushing forward and walking with the Lord through it all. In the end, we all lean on the same God who’s reputation inspires us to blaze on with the assurance we get from Jesus’ words as he sent out the first round of missionaries, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
[Editor] Thank you for sharing the insights, Brian and Bailey. This is the link to their original post.