What’s it like serving overseas as a mission partner for many years? There are so many ways to answer that question!
Let’s start with surprising or unexpected! It was surprising to me when I was called 26 years ago to serve in Papua New Guinea – the land of the unexpected. I went as a community doctor seeking to improve the holistic health of the rural communities. Now I train nationals to teach Bible courses in the communities and write easy English resources to help others to grow in following Jesus – not at all what I expected to do!
The need for doctors where I am remains. Yet, as health is a spiritual issue – most are convinced that sickness and death are because of sorcery or spirits – the appropriate response is to meet that belief with God, and what God says about sickness and death.
It is not always easy to act differently from what others expect and to be sure of God’s leading. Whilst it was a surprise for me to end up a writer and teacher, it is something I love doing and believe God prepared me to do.
There have been so many goodbyes as people come and go. Rumginae, where I serve, had many missionary families when I arrived in 1997; now I am the last expatriate.
Sometimes it has been lonely and difficult – but that takes me closer to God, who is always with us.
There has been so much change, in so many ways. Change in resources – from one shared phone and no internet, to almost everyone having a phone. Change in attitude – an increase in alcohol and marijuana use, and an expectation to be paid for everything. Challenges in relationships in a culture that is indirect and non-confrontational.
Sometimes it has been lonely and difficult – but that takes me closer to God, who is always with us. And there is always an opportunity in every challenge!
I’m humbled as I recognise my mistakes and see how much more I still have to learn. I’m chastened as I realise more and more how much I need God and others to help me, and learn that without Christ I truly can do nothing. As I look back, I realise how much selfishness, pride and irritability remains in me after so many years of walking with him yet, by his grace, God continues to patiently mould and shape me.
… for so much and in so many ways! I am thankful for God’s amazing faithfulness, and all I am learning about who he is and about trusting him, the one who is in control of all things.
Thankful for the faithfulness of my supporters, some of whom pray for me every day!
I am thankful for God’s amazing faithfulness, and all I am learning about who he is and about trusting him
Thankful for all I am learning from another culture – for different ways to look at situations, and at the Bible. Thankful for more understanding of God’s character and his grace.
Thankful as I see more of his creative ability in the different people and cultures (PNG has 850 tribes), the intricate colourful flowers, varied birds, trees, mountains, and rivers.
Thankful for the richness of knowing each one who has touched my life in some way or another.
What’s it like serving for the long haul?
It is such a privilege.
Rosie Crowter has served in Papua New Guinea for 26 years. She works with the national church to provide Bible training and teaching resources.