I’ve already been asked a couple of questions about furlough and they’re good ones. Here is my response to the question, “Why do missionaries go on furlough?”
Furlough is a time to:
- report in-person to those who prayed and/or gave financial resources. It’s a time to testify of all that God has done and even the ways that God used hardship in the life of the missionary.
- maintain relationships. A missionary’s prayer and financial support comes from those with whom he has a relationship. Furlough is a time to maintain and renew vital relationships with Partners.
- share expertise with churches on how to evangelize. In theory, missionaries are experts at deciphering a culture and finding effective means for making disciples in a given culture. Missionaries could share what they have learned about contextualizing disciple-making. They can serve as consultants to churches in the USA that have a desire to make disciples in their respective cities/towns.
- raise support. Costs increase during the years that the missionary is on his field of service. In addition, it is common each year for one or more Financial Partners to reduce or discontinue their support. Nearly every missionary returns home needing to raise additional financial support before he can return to his field of service.
- heal emotionally. Many missionaries experience extremely difficult or traumatic things during their time away. Sometimes, they need to find a listening ear to give them perspective and help them take steps toward wholeness. Furlough provides a good time for this.
- make memories with family & friends. Most missionaries love the people on their field of service and count it a privilege to serve God there. However, they miss out on a lot of birthday parties, special events and holidays with friends and family. In fact, many friendships wither during this time because “people move on” when they are no longer doing life together. Furlough gives missionaries some time to make memories and do special things with special people so that those relationships survive and thrive despite the distance.
- get training. Missionaries are committed to excellence. After all, a missionary serves one of the most important causes in the world! Most mission agencies offer training to their missionaries during furlough.
- receive medical care. The quality of medical care depends upon the country. Not only that, the language barrier can hinder getting adequate medical care. For these reasons, many missionaries opt to receive their non-urgent medical care, physicals, tests, etc. while they are on furlough.
There are probably more purposes. What have I missed? Let me know in the comment section below.