Fellowship Missionaries in Southeast Asia

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

While few of us personally know of anyone who has died for their faith, we have some great examples within our body of those who have died to self for others. They left behind family, friends, and their church, giving up all western conveniences and comfort. If we’re honest, we might be quick to say that we would die for our family, but would we give up our air-conditioning, reliable internet, and drive-through coffee for those we don’t even know? Fellowship missionaries, the ’H’ family (we are intentionally not using their names for security reasons) have given up all that and more.

Mr. and Mrs. H have four beautiful girls, ages 3 to 9, and have lived in the island region of Southeast Asia for eight years. They spent the first three years in the provincial capital learning the national language and culture. They then spent roughly a year researching where the need for the gospel was the greatest and how best to live among and engage with the people in that area. They decided on their location because it has a large people group with a rather homogenous language.

Having spent the past four years living among these people, Mr. and Mrs. H are both fluent in the national language and are now in the process of learning the local language. Mr. H understands most of what is said and can carry on basic conversations. Mrs. H is more limited in her ability to make progress due to her time constraints of homemaking and homeschooling. Despite these constraints, mastering the language is of primary importance to both.

In addition to language challenges, the culture is also very different, but the family is slowly learning to understand it as well. They’ve learned that the local people are non-confrontational and are quite nuanced in their expressions. They will not tell you what they think you don’t want to hear, so it can be hard to know what they are really thinking and feeling. Also, there is no privacy. Everyone is in your business!  And the community has expectations of you that must be fulfilled like participating in local events. Saying “no” to these invitations is not an option.

Coffee beans drying in the sun
Coffee beans drying in the sun

To help build relationships and for the ‘H’ family to live in this country without suspicion, Mr. H runs a coffee processing company. The company is now in its fourth harvest and Mr. H is slowly learning different aspects and challenges of the business. Unlike most businessmen however, Mr. H’s goal is not maximizing profit! He wants to spend as little time as possible in running the business to focus on mastering the language and building relationships to share the gospel, which is their primary goal. However, Mr. H still needs to compete with companies who are more fully dedicated to their business. He finds the ever-changing landscape of business permissions and paperwork to be a frustrating process. Not surprisingly, because he has a foreign-owned business, he faces greater scrutiny and requirements than local companies.  Mr. H must constantly balance the needs of the company with his evangelism goals.

Fresh picked coffee beans
Fresh picked coffee beans

 Mrs. H has her own set of challenges living in this country. In many ways daily living is much harder there. All the cooking happens almost entirely from scratch for everything they eat. She makes her own bread and tortillas. She makes frequent trips to a local market to buy most of her vegetables. Also, while Mr. H pitches in as he can, most of the homeschooling responsibilities for the two oldest girls fall on Mrs. H. While homeschooling them, she also must come up with clever ways to keep the two youngest girls busy. There are no options of homeschool co-ops or even going to nearby parks. The girls do sometimes play with some of their neighbors but compared to American children the girls have a very limited life as there is nowhere to go and little to do. So, Mr. and Mrs. H are dedicated to coming up with creative ideas for building a life together as a family.

Shopping for vegetables
Shopping for vegetables

Another challenge is that the family is isolated when it comes to interacting with other international families. Besides one family who works with them in the coffee business, there are only about five to six international families across the island, with the next closest family living five hours away.

Nonetheless, there is much they are grateful for like the motorcycle rides Mr. H goes on with the girls.  They all enjoy searching for lizards, especially monitor lizards which can grow over four feet in length. 

So, when we think of the ‘H’ family’s long-term sacrifice and investment before they even begin the process of having conversations about the gospel, many of us will wonder how they don’t get discouraged. Mr. H answers,

“If we were to look at this as a job or a task, it is not emotionally sustainable (particularly if you start counting the cost to family who didn't themselves choose this).  However, we see it more as the Father's leading us here to pursue a larger task (His name and Son being known), but the means of that is not simply in big picture tasks being accomplished, but in the daily opportunities He brings our way to be a light and a blessing to those He brings us in contact with.  This is not a job or a task He has given us, but rather the life He has called us to faithfully walk through WITH Him (not for Him).  If you look at this as hurdles, steps, and goals, few can sustain this path for the long term.  However, if you look at it as His process, His journey, and becoming what He has for you, then it is never a matter of 'not yet' or 'if only' or 'when I...' but rather what does He have for me today and how can I love and serve Him today?” 

When asked how we can pray for the family, they responded,

“I think my primary request would be that the fruit of the Spirit would be felt and evident in our lives.  Of course, there are practical business permissions that would be helpful, language progress that is key, and wisdom for family that is necessary.  However, if we are showing and experiencing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then the Process and Journey He is bringing us on will be honoring to Him and is accomplishing His will, which is all we ever hoped for.”

To learn more about the ‘H’ family, contact Suzan Hicks ( ). If you would like to financially support the Outreach Ministry that serves our Global & Local Partners and Missionaries, click here to easily and safely donate.

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