Wives of missionary pastors are the unsung heroes of the faith, especially among the small village churches in the lands of Russia. These wives go through many different seasons during their years of ministry.
Seasons of Ministry
In “summertime” seasons, when they are free from difficult hardships and all seems well, their hearts are energized. They have great excitement for the ministry that the Lord has placed before them both. They are filled with a great desire to serve in whatever way the Lord has asked of them and of their husband.
But then “Fall” comes with temptations of doubt and despair. The energy once there begins to fade under the pressures and hardships of life, and joy begins to fade from their hearts as leaves dying and falling from a tree. Temptations come … tiredness, loneliness, anger, bitterness depression, and doubt. The hearts that were once bright are now quite weary.
Whether by personal choices they had made, choices of others, or by uncontrollable circumstances, the “winter time” eventually comes — broken relationships, loss of a loved one, rebellious children, or divided churches. Winters are lonely, especially for the young wife of a village pastor with no one to confide in. These winter times are cold and dark, and leave these wives with heavily burdened hearts.
Hope Springs Eternal
But even these winter times are not without hope, for hope springs eternal! Devotion to Christ and fervent prayer turns burdened hearts into hopeful hearts — hearts that have overcome!
There is a thankfulness to God for walking with them through the hard times, and the victory over these winter times only makes their devotion stronger. These wives desire to take what they learned from these cold winter seasons and plant new seeds of hope in their hearts — hearts that keep their eyes focused on their Savior above.
And this is what I saw over a few days in Belarus, as wives of more than 35 missionary pastors supported through SGA came with their husbands for a time of encouragement. Although their lives have been extremely difficult at times, they had joy on their faces, and that joy only overflowed as they talked of their lives and ministry.
These unsung heroes are the keepers of their homes, helpers to their husbands, comforters, confidants — and at the same time still taking care for the needs of their small churches.
Nadia, the wife of Moscow Regional Ministry Center (RMC) Director, Valeriy K. shared: “The responsibilities of a church planter wife are titanic! Because of financial concerns, and sometimes harsh living conditions, a clearer devotion is seen in their lives, because of the deep stresses they must endure.” Nadia also said: “This devotion was even seen in the younger wives at the conference. They were young, but they showed much wisdom and faithfulness to God and their husband.”
Liliya, wife of Minsk RMC Director, Piotr P. who also organized the conference, commented: “A good missionary wife is one whose husband’s heart is completed and safe in her.” She told us of a sister who did not want to move with her husband to the small village where he felt he was called. She did go, but was unhappy for a time. Through the support of other believers around her and her devotion to be with her husband and honor God, God changed her heart. Her heart was at peace to stay. Her husband’s heart was encouraged and strengthened by her faithfulness and joy.
Liliya also shared of how the wives’ hearts are connected to their husbands and share the same pains. This showed over and over again, as we heard prayer requests from the ladies — not personal ones for themselves, but instead for the needs, for their husbands and the church.
We heard testimony from another dear sister, Gulmyra, wife of Irpen RMC Director Ruslan M., who shared that she moved to a bitterly cold place in Russia with her husband (Chita). She was only 22 years old at the time. She had no family there, and it was lonely. She had a small baby at the time, and the cold blistered the skin on her face. Her husband ministered in different villages five days a week. This meant that he travelled constantly while she stayed at home and took care of their little one. She welcomed him home on the weekends and then prepared him to go off again for another week. She could’ve said she didn’t want to stay, or that it was too hard, but that would’ve discouraged her husband. Instead she stayed, and now that one man she ministered to, in love oversees and encourages many other missionaries in Ukraine and is a senior pastor of another small church.
Seasons come and go in the lives of these wives. There are summer times and plenty of winter times as well. These faithful and devoted women are a great example of devotion to Christ and the certain hope that guides them through difficult seasons.
The constant sacrificial hearts of these women, doing what God calls a ministry wife to do, makes them our heroes of the faith. It is only possible through their love and devotion to our God, who provides them — and us — with our ultimate hope in Him. Please continue to pray for these dear wives. Thank you all for your prayers and your love.
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