We enjoyed our visit to the South Pacific March 20-29. It was a good time to leave Wisconsin with its uncertain weather and soak up the equatorial sunshine of Kosrae. While we were there the ocean provided opportunities for fishing (we did not catch anything), snorkeling and beach combing. The Hunters were gracious hosts showing us the various features of Kosrae and their ministry there.
We were not prepared for the primitive conditions we found in that part of the world. Obviously we have become accustomed to a certain level of amenities in life. It makes us better understand the sacrifice of missionary families who go to these cultures and put up with these issues. The water supply on Kosrae comes from two sources. Bathroom water comes from the river and is unfiltered. At times they have to deal with mud in the water and bathing water is unheated. Kitchen water is rain runoff that is stored in a large container and must be filtered for drinking. While they have an excellent opportunity for fishing and harvesting various foods like lobster, crab and fish, basic foods that we take for granted are not always available. When Dawn Hunter goes to the store bread is not always available. Some things that we regularly enjoy they can never have.
In evaluating the ministry of church planting on the mission field we saw the effects of eight years of ministry in Kosrae by the Hunters. Starting with some interested people they have seen the formation of Grace Baptist Church of Kosrae with a national pastor and a solid constituent membership. At this point the Hunters are allowing the Kosraians to carry out a ministry through their own church. A number of faithful families are actively participating in Grace Baptist. In the future they hope to have a more effective facility for their church, while the present building is adequate at this time. We were encouraged by the good spirit and love demonstrated by the various family groups at Grace Baptist.
The Hunters have been in Kosrae for eight years and have been visited only by family and mission personnel. Since I was Steve and Dawn’s pastor during the time Steve was in college and during the time they were getting their support for Kosrae, Carole and I felt burdened to visit the Hunters. We went more to be an encouragement for them than to have a great ministry in Kosrae. Our missionaries go great distances to take the gospel to the world. I believe that every church should make an effort to visit their missionaries by both pastors and members to see the work and to be an encouragement to the missionaries. They are making a great sacrifice to serve and one way we can show our acknowledgment of that service is to visit them.
Missionary kids (MKs) have unique challenges, which we can hardly fully understand. They are living in two worlds which is a difficult for those of us who are all grown up, but for children and teens this can be an even greater problem. The Hunters children are teens and preteen but they enjoy their home and ministry in Kosrae. When they come home this summer they will face two great challenges. As they visit the churches they will be the visitors each and every week. Also they will face an unbelievable culture shock from island culture to the mainland. A further challenge for MKs is the matter of their continuing education as they reach college age. They often must come home alone to attend college with their parents in a far away, foreign field. We certainly ought to earnestly pray for our MKs that God will help them through this challenging time.
As pastors and church members we need to show our missionary families that we appreciate the sacrifice they are making for the Lord’s work. We can pray for them, we can be faithful in our financial support of their ministry and we can encourage them with a visit if possible. We can also show them cordial fellowship when they come home to report and visit our churches.