About a year ago, Wayne and I were visiting with his cousin Mark and his wife Joanna in Virginia. Mark and Joanna are now in Prague, working with the emergent generation I think they call it. They are building relationships to share Christ with people. Before that, they worked in a school in Uganda. They are missionaries. Joanna told us once that this question was posed to her, "how does it feel to be a missionary's wife?" I think that she then proceeded to explain that she is not a missionaries wife, but that they are missionaries and in ministry together.
I have been reading a book recently, one required by our mission board, called From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya - A Biographical History of Missions. It tells about missions by telling the stories of missionaries, from Christ's time to the present. I just am currently in the section about the Far East in the 1800's and just finished the section about Hudson Taylor. The section is not titled "Hudson Taylor" though, but "The J. Hudson Taylors". It is about the ministry that he and his wives (yes, he had two - a lot of the women seemed to die back then when overseas) carried out. There is one statement that he made that really encouraged me. "Writing to potential candidates, he had charged:'Unless you intend your wife to be a true missionary, not merely a wife, home-maker, and friend, do not join us.'" Now this can take form in many different ways. Many women that I have met that are on the mission field do spend a majority of their time at home caring for their families, and I'm not saying at all that this is bad. Most of those that I have met who do this are actively pursuing relationships with people around them to share the gospel. They are using their home as a venue for missions. I will do this some, but I will also be involved in a teaching ministry. The point is, as Hudson Taylor said and as the Taylors ministry showed, both husband and wife must want to be there and must have ways to serve God and reach people in the setting they are in.
When Wayne and I met, it was on a missions trip. I had been on several before and knew that the Lord was leading me to missions. Of course, I thought it would be as a single woman ( I had never dated anyone before Wayne, so practically speaking, it looked like I would be single for a while!). It was Wayne's first time out of the country, but he went on the trip because he was becoming interested in missions. So from the time we met, we had a shared vision, and as our relationship grew, so did that vision for seeing God's name proclaimed where it was not known.
Now Wayne and I have different roles, I know. We will be involved in different ministries. I will not be teaching at the Bible College. I do not have a Masters degree like Wayne, and he has had a lot more experience teaching than I have. But I will be able to teach. One reason that we chose Senegal is for the opportunities that I will have. We had several options of countries where Wayne could teach at a college, but in many of those, I would have no opportunity to teach. In Senegal, some of the missionaries have already started a program for training women that I will be able to get involved in. We chose Senegal because it fit both of our gifts and passions for ministry. I also realize that in my role, I will be the homemaker and spend more time taking care of Addie. But that will not keep me from being able to use my gifts in the body of Christ, mainly that of teaching.
Now I'm going to brag on my husband a little bit :) He is a great teacher. I love hearing him preach at churches, camps and anywhere else he has the opportunity to do so. But saying that, I feel very privileged to be a partner in ministry with him. There are many times, more often than not actually, that Wayne is up in front of a group speaking, and I am in the audience. It may be that he is preaching at a church, giving a devotional to a youth group, telling people about our plans for Senegal. I realize that many times, it is his job to be up in front of people, not mine. But here's the great part, he lets me help him! I have not heard a sermon from him yet that I have not already heard before Sunday, or dare I say it, one that I have not helped him write! It is such a blessing for me to be able to help him think through what his is studying, to be able to give a slightly different perspective on a passage, to help him come up with gripping illustrations! And when Wayne is in front of a church giving a presentation on our plans for Senegal, it is so good for me to hear him say "Our vision for Senegal..." And vice-versa, when I am teaching a group of girls or discipling someone, Wayne is there to help me become a better teacher and to give me advice when I don't know what to say to someone. We are partners in ministry.
So if you ask me, "How does it feel to be a missionary's wife?" I will probably tell you that I love being Wayne's wife, and I'm also glad that my longtime dream of becoming a missionary is also finally coming true.
Who Are We
We should be jealous. . . for the honour of His name – troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed. And all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due to it.” John Stott