In Defense of Missionaries on Instagram

By Anonymous Global Worker

My original idea for the title of this article was, “In Defense of Photos Posted by Christian Workers Around the World”. Glad I have an editor! The thought came from an honest conversation with a pastor. He was sharing how he felt tension when seeing missionaries posting photos of their fun, food, and travel. “Is that all they do?” he would wonder.

 

The pastor’s initial response would then lead to more disconcerting ponderings. The line of thinking went something like this: “Man, that must be the good life. They travel. They eat good food. They drink good coffee. They see cool places. They’re lives are really interesting. But do they ever really work? Why are we supporting them to travel the world?”

As a global Christian worker with a Instagram account, the conversation made me feel tense as well. Just last month I had a work trip to a pretty unique city on another continent. It was a well known city with some famous landmarks. Since it was a work trip, I had meetings almost the entire time. But anytime I travel to a new place I like seeing the sites, trying new food, and looking for new local coffee shops.

And yes, I’ll admit it. I like to take pictures of it all. And I like to post, instagram, and tweet them. It’s my way of sharing these experiences with others.

So I guess I’m a contributor to the pastor’s tension. And I find myself asking, “Should I (and global workers like me) stop sharing?”

I don’t think so.

And here’s why.

Christian workers raise support to serve globally. Supporters want to know what’s happening in their ministries. They want to know that their investment in the kingdom is being used wisely. But the reality is, global Christian workers often cannot securely post pictures related to their ministries. It would be putting themselves and the people with whom they work at risk. That means the only pictures safe for posting—as trivial as they might seem—are related to parts of life that are distant from their day-to-day work. It doesn’t mean fun, food, and travel are all they do.

If you are a supporter who ever senses the same tension toward global Christian workers, know they are most likely working in settings where cameras cannot go. Fight the urge to become bitter, and instead use their photos as a reminder to pray for them. Pray for their ministry. Pray for their travels, which are often critical to cross-cultural endurance. Pray for them to get soul rest and have fun without guilt. Pray for them to be faithful witnesses even in the midst of whatever they’re doing in the photo. Think the best of your brothers and sisters in Christ, trusting that hard work is being done.

On Instagram it might seem like global Christian workers just travel the globe. But that is not all they do.