I use to live as a lay missionary and only lasted six months. It is sad to say living with Christians can be extremely difficult. You would not think so, since to follow Jesus is to love one another as He loves us. I remember the lecture we had from the bishop. He was telling us that some lay people have approached him over the years telling him that we needed to be led by a nun or a monk, and he made it very clear he was not having it.
We Start out inexperience Needing a Teacher
He did not explained what their argument was, but if it was the same argument as mine, it would have been this. The community before joining the missions probably all just read some famous saint and we all wanted to imitate that persons, only to find it was far harder than any of us ever could imagine. We were all totally unexperienced with community life and unaware of the dangers we would eventually fall into, because we did not have a leader who knew about it and therefore we could not be lead out of it.
The leader of the groups this Bishop chose quiet often would boss people about, but not lead them in any way constructively. There is a big difference from a leader and a bossy person. And of course these people had no experience of living in a Christian community either. We needed somebody to lead us that had years of experience in community life and was strong enough to lead us.
Being a good leader is not easy, a great deal of pressure is put on the leader from the group to do what is unhealthy, because of pride mainly. We do not like people pointing out our weakness and the person who is brave enough to do it, is often unpopular for a while. Leaders need respect and co-operation from us.
Putting People on a Pedestal
I noticed time and time again in my short stay that new missionaries would all arrive on the mission fields and marvel at all the missionaries that were there before them. Thinking they were all saints and they wished that they were like them and then about three weeks down the track the same missionaries that they were marvelling at, they would not be able to look into their eyes, because there was so much hatred. We saw them once as a great saint now reduced to a great sinner.
I remember a new missionary arrived and I knew she was putting me on a pedestal. I was not flattered, because I knew in a few weeks she would not be able to look into my eyes, because she would see my sinful side so strongly that she would despise me, which did happened.
We had no one to explain what was happening to us. That was one of the main reasons we needed a nun or a monk with years of experience to teach us what was going on and that it was a normal problem we were facing. And showing us how to deal with it. As a result we were burnt out very quickly and only a very few missionaries stayed their full time in the thirty years that the missions was in operation.
Married People can have this Problem too
Married people have this problem, but no way as bad as living in a Christian community that is dysfunctional, because in a sense you are married to the entire community. I have never married so some people might say how should I know? I did asked a women lay missionary, who had a happy marriage and was then a widow. She agreed it was harder, but like I said she was happily married.
People who have happy marriages have worked hard for it. Their happiness does not fall into their lap as the movies would like us to believe. I said to her that I was blessed by being raised in a happy family and now God wanted me to know what a dysfunctional family felt like. So what was the major problem? I believe the lack of understanding of what Saint Paul teaches. We are not fighting flesh but principalities in high places.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground….
We needed the time to spend together in deep prayer every day. Praising God from our hearts. Missionaries are quiet often work orientated. It is important to nourish yourself spiritually and learn to rest in God, or you become burnt out. Of course good and healthy communication with one another is necessary.
Talking over things that is distressing for you, often takes courage, because everybody is too polite. Another reason for a good leader. Sometimes we need to be told to talk things over and sometimes we need a wise person who is able to discern when this should happen and watch over us while this is happening. Much like a parent needs to do sometimes. Making sure there is no childish behaviour of denial and tantrums.
God Confirmed what I was Thinking
Many years after I was meditating about our sinful nature and I remember saying ‘we are sinful people learning how to become good.’ God let me feel His presence and He was very happy with my conclusion. I believe He was saying that is how I should look at it. You are a sinful person learning how to become good and that takes a lot of practise.
In each one of us we have our own demons to fight. For example if we see pride in a person, we have to remember the person is not that demon, but the image of God. Their real personality is the same nature God has, because that person is made in God’s image. The demon has entered because of the fall of Adam and Eve.
We have demons through generational curses and lot of us have them through different traumas, and through the curses people have spoken over us and the curses we have spoken over ourselves and of course every time we give in to sin we let the demons in that way. They are only some of the ways demons can enter.
Not Confusing a Demon with the Person
If you can remember it is the demon and not the person you can forgive people a whole lot better, than if you see the demon as the person, which I am afraid is how most us see other people and ourselves. I believe we are basically an empty vessel with a free will. We either let God’s Spirit live in us or demons. Every time we express selfishness we are allowing demons to express themselves in us and through us.
Every time we express love, gentleness, kindness etc. we allowing the Holy Spirit to live in us and through us. So everything that is good in us we cannot brag about, because it is the goodness of God living in us. We cannot even think of a good thought without God’s help. This is how I see things. I hope you will pray on it and ask God to enlighten you.