The girl who went missing

We never got round to giving her any training before she went to work in the Congo for three years. 

We Figured she'd cope

Obviously, it’s a war-zone, so we weren’t expecting her time out there to be plain sailing, but we figured she’d cope. There had been a lot going on in church during the months before she left us, what with the summer holidays starting, with kids camps, festivals and time off to navigate. July and August sort of ran away with us when it came to making space to chat with her about leaving for Africa in September. I’m not sure how she had been feeling about the big move, but I assume she had it all worked out.

She didn't actually have a church to receive her when she arrived in the Congo. I hadn’t done any research on the area myself, but it’s a small place, so it was probably pretty straight forward to find a church family to belong to when she arrived. There aren't that many Christians out there I don't think, so it should be simple enough to find some, people know where to find the minorities don’t they?

she would do just fine

I hear survival rates in the Congo are pretty dire, but she had been a bright spark in youth group and very resourceful in helping put on the nativity play at the Christmas service, so we were confident she would do just fine. Yes, I suppose she did face new experiences and challenges out there, with a country saturated with weapons, and westerners seen as targets. But she was a sensible girl so we weren’t concerned.

In hindsight, some practical training in first aid, shelter-building and maybe some language lessons, could have been helpful. But as I say, leading up to September was busy. And the budget is tight. We usually leave it up to parents to sort their kids out anyway, so they could have sent her on some training if they'd wanted to.

Obviously we prayed for her on her last Sunday in church with us. We commissioned her to go and live for Jesus in the Congo for the next three years. How exciting, what an adventure! We hoped she would find some good people, somewhere safe to live, and we prayed she wouldn't get bitten by rabid dogs or get malaria. Saying that, I suppose someone should have mentioned the different jabs and precautions you can get for that sort of thing. I don’t think she actually knew about that either.

It's been six months now

I'm looking forward to hearing from her any day now. It’s been a little longer than I expected if I'm honest. I had assumed we'd see her back in church for a visit maybe at Christmas time, but it’s been six months now and there’s been no contact at all with her. I can only assume she'll write when she is ready, in the mean time I won't bother her.

I tend not to follow the news about the Congo. it's too disturbing. Daily there are new crimes and the death toll is rising with all the civil unrest going on. I'd rather not know what goes on. I'll just be praying she settled in well and is making a difference out there. I'm sure she’s just finding her feet. It is a slight concern that her parents have yet to make contact with her either.

I do hope she is alright.

Still, we did all we could. But she's on her own now, flown the nest. We did all we could.

Imagine if we, as members of the Church family, sent our eighteen year olds off to do overseas mission in difficult and overwhelming circumstances with little or no preparation, training or follow-up? It would be considered a total discipleship failure on the part of the church family, and completely unacceptable and irresponsible. 
Let’s make sure this story doesn't happen for any young person starting university this September. Who do you know who is leaving home for uni? Please help prepare them for this life-change, and get them prayed-for, supported and connected to new churches at studentlinkup.org.

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Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

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