A statistic that is very troubling to me is that 80% of all missionaries will never finish one term on the mission field, or if they do, they will not return for a second term (a term is considered a three-and-a-half year period). I heard this while I was in missionary school and the first thing I said to myself was, “No way! That statistic cannot be true.” I thought about the testimonies I heard the first day of school by the students. Callings were explained, scripture was read, and testimonies were shared about God’s leading to missionary school. I was impressed. At our graduation exercise everyone was excited to go forth into the ripened fields of harvest. I was sure my class of 1980 would do a great work for the Lord. I believe that as a class we were a blessing to many people in different parts of the world, but the 80% attrition rate held true even for us. Many left the field after six months; most were gone by the one year mark. Out of twenty-eight graduates I can only think of three that are still full-time missionaries. As I saw the fallout, I began to ask why. I also began to think and say, “This has got to be stopped.”
Don’t Let it Happen to You
The sad truth is far too many are leaving the mission field before they finish their assignments. Missionary attrition is a huge problem. If the fields are white unto harvest and the laborers are few, we cannot afford to lose any of the few that are working cross-culturally. Using this blog over the next year, I will address some of the main reasons missionaries do not survive. My hope and prayer is that all missionaries would survive and even thrive on the mission field. I will be using research I collected and published in 1999 in my book, How to Survive on the Mission Field. I will also use Dr. William Taylor’s excellent book, Too Valuable to Lose.
Check in with me about every two weeks and I will have something for you. If you believe you are called to missionary work, read what I have to say and express your opinion. I want this blog to be interactive and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!