My wife is a 3rd generation missionary, her grandfather is entering 50 years on the mission field, and her parents have been missionaries for 25+ years. Now we are missionaries, raising our kids in a foreign country.
Many things have changed about being a missionary over the years. 50 years ago you came across the globe on a boat. It took an entire month. 20 years ago you got 1 phone call back home once a year because of the cost. Life was much different.
What has changed the context of missionary life more than anything? The internet.
Here’s a list of things not possible for a missionary 10 years ago:
- I can text my mom and dad back in the States 24/7. For free.
- I can video chat with my family in the States. On my cell phone. In the car.
- My boys know my parents well, because they video chat every week. Did I mention for free?
- I can watch anything on TV in the States, in my living room in South East Asia. (slingbox.com)
- I can watch live church services from our home church in the States.
- I can see pictures of my niece and nephew in the States practically the moment they are taken.
- You can watch live videos of our ministry in the Philippines. (RIP “prayer letters”).
- After you visit us on a mission trip, you can stay connected to the people you meet here.
- I can give a live video report to your church on our ministry activities. For free.
- I can manage bank accounts, transfer ministry funds, and exchange money. Instantly. For free.
- I can download the latest ministry resources and books straight to my tablet, in under a minute.
No doubt the internet is overused and addictive to some. But for missionaries in the 21st century, I can’t think of a greater thing.