Every job or vocation brings unique challenges and responsibilities. No matter our job or vocation, we can expect some hardship mixed in with success and joy.
For mothers who have stayed home, it may be the exhausting cycle of caring for children. For professionals, it may be the difficulty of frequent travel and endless emails. For people who work in ministry, it is often the challenge of never-ending work and limited funds.
Being a missionary is a unique calling in two ways. Not only are missionaries called to religious life, but they also have heard a further calling to serve in foreign places, bringing Christ to areas and people that are without his light.
For our missionaries, the challenges they experience can be unusual to say the least.
Many Missionaries Have Limited Access to the Internet
Father Giang Nguyen SVD was born in Vietnam in 1983. He immigrated to America with his family in 1991 when he was 8 years old. He began to think about the priesthood when he was in seventh grade and was intrigued when a Divine Word vocation director left a stack of Sacred Heart calendars at his parish. Using a brand-new search engine called Yahoo, he found Divine Word Missionaries on the World Wide Web. “I was one of the first to make contact with the SVDs through the internet.”
Once Fr. Giang was assigned to Mozambique, however, he found fewer opportunities to connect online. That is true for most of our missionaries in the field. Think about it. If you're living with a small community of people on the outskirts of the Amazon or running a school in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, your internet options are limited.
There are of course exceptions. Some of our missionaries are able to be active through email and social media, and because of this they are able to spread the word about the good work taking place and the needs of the people they serve. Father Felmar Castrodes Fiel SVD is an example. He regularly blogs about his missionary life in the Philippines and has more than 15,000 followers on Facebook.
A Lack of Connection Brings Both Good and Bad
This lack of connection is both beneficial and challenging. It is beneficial because our missionaries, leaving the support of family and friends at home, must now learn to live within a new world. A world of new customs and languages and even new foods. A lack of online connection allows them to focus on their new lives.
However, that same lack of connection can be an enormous liability to their vocation. Access to social media and the internet helps our missionaries share their stories and raise the spiritual and financial support that can make their mission a success. And they have powerful, beautiful and exciting stories to share about the work of the Gospel taking place in countries around the world.
In 2019, people expect regular updates, photos, and stories from the projects and persons they care about. They want to feel connected with people who live far away. They want to read their blogs and social media posts.
Because the rest of the world lives online more and more with each passing day, our missionaries and their mission stories need to live online too.
Sharing Stories Through Mission Impact
This is why Mission Impact exists—to help Divine Word Missionaries share their stories with the rest of the world through the internet, social media, our magazine and many other avenues.
When you read these mission stories or submit a prayer request or send a Mass kit to a missionary in the field, you make a connection that shows our missionaries you support their work and calling.
The missionary life is one that can bring great challenges and great joy. It is a life that needs to be shared.