How do you live in a healthy community as a traveling missionary? Two years ago I talked to a well-known evangelist who travels all around the world, and one of the things he struggled with is building community.
He was completely honest with me and told me that it’s absolutely possible to travel to different countries, have a home base, and live in a community with people, but the most important thing when it comes to living in a community when you’re a traveling missionary or minister is being intentional about your relationships.
It sounds oversimplified, but that really is it. The way he stays connected with the people he cares about the most is by using modern technology like Skype, Whats App, FaceTime, etc.
Over the past three years, I’ve traveled to Mozambique, South Africa, The Middle East, France, and Spain, and while I was in ministry school in Mozambique, I made friends there who were from at least 6-7 different nations. When I came back to California this year in June, I realized that most of my friends I made in California had already moved on. Having friends from so many other nations and not having hardly any friends in my own hometown was pretty tough to be completely honest.
Because I don’t have a car and my bicycle will only take me so far, I had to figure out how I was going to rebuild my community so that I could get to a much healthier place in my personal life. Then I finally remembered what the evangelist told me a while ago about using technology to stay in relationship with a community of people who know my heart and what’s going on in my life.
Over the past month, I’ve skyped with a friend in Singapore, a friend in The Middle East, a friend in Mozambique, a friend in France, and a friend who lives on the East Coast in the United States. While I don’t plan for my community of friends to look the way it does right now forever, it works for this season.
I do have some friends I meet with locally, but whenever I need missions advice, feedback, or counsel, I like to connect with my missionary friends from other nations as well.
Would I recommend only connecting with people who live in other countries and not making friends locally? No. If at all possible, I believe it’s best to make friends locally, but if that’s not possible currently for whatever reason, we should be focused on and working toward making that a reality at some point. In the meantime with technology the way it is nowadays, there are plenty of options to stay connected with friends from other parts of the world.
It’s true that we can’t always get what we want when we want, but it’s truer that when we trust in the Lord, He’ll give us relationships that’ll be richer than we could ever dream of.
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