During our first term on the mission field, our family lived through two wars. There were missile attacks, terrorism in the city where we lived, family trips to the bomb shelter, and one scary time when a rocket exploded over our car. We lived in an elevated state of anxiety, but in the middle of all of this chaos and fear, we found practicing these five things helped give us a sense of peace by putting God in the center of our lives:
- Continue with “normal” life and ministry as much as possible. We decided that if we were going to stay, we should continue to minister even if it took us to more dangerous areas. God continually reminded us of the bigger picture and why He called us to that place, and we grew very close to our national friends and partners.
- Set boundaries. For my mental health, it was too distressing to read the news, so I relied on my husband to tell me things that were pertinent. I chose to operate in faith and focus on things that were in my sphere of influence.
- Take a Sabbath and extra down time. We guarded our one day off per week and took more time with our kids. With that extra time, my husband — an avid outdoorsman — took time to learn to fly fish, and I — a musician — took time to teach myself the guitar. And as a family, we planted a garden. From buying the seeds in the store to digging up the soil to plant, it gave us such joy to teach our kids about gardening and how things grow.
- Don’t ignore the mental and emotional effects. We are not unscathed from all we went through. When there is a fire drill, I hate that my small children instinctively run and hide under a desk. When a motorcycle revs its engine, our adrenaline still surges for a split second because it sounds just like a siren starting. By age four my son knew what missiles were and that terrorists were launching them to try to kill people. I have to watch my own cynicism towards certain people groups — something I have never struggled with before. It is important to recognize these effects in ourselves and in our children and to counter negative attitudes with prayer.
- Trust God for the peace that surpasses understanding. During the hard times, we leaned on God and truly came to understand that Jesus is our daily bread. He is enough. We serve an amazing God. Even though life is really hard sometimes, He is always good. Always.