Confessions of a Missionary on Home Assignment

by Shan Reed

I live a lifestyle as a missionary that can be a challenge. I love being a missionary. I love being in ministry. I love Japan, my other home.

I do not love home assignment.

There is a lot of background to all of those statements in the first paragraph, but since we are blogging through the Bible, I will stick to what today’s reading reminded me about my attitude and role as a missionary on home assignment.

In today’s reading, Luke 17-21, chapter 18 especially stuck with me. This chapter has much to say to me as a missionary on home assignment. I have to admit, though, I read verses 1-8 many times before I actually heard what Jesus was saying to me.

Life in Japan as a missionary is not easy.

Well, compared to other parts of the world, our living conditions are quite good, equivalent, in fact, to the U.S. However, life as a missionary has little to do with living conditions. Life as a missionary has everything to do with spiritual conditions.

I learned about prayer as a missionary.

shanI had prayed before and thought I had a stellar prayer life until I moved to a foreign country where I could not communicate with people around me. Suddenly, the way I had approached prayer before seemed childish and naïve. I truly learned how to rely only on God.

Now that I have been in Japan for about 14 years, I have learned how to communicate, how to get around by myself. In short, I have become self-reliant. I don’t need God. I am doing very well on my own, thank you very much.

Then I “get” to go on home assignment.

I visit churches, friends, and family and try to fit back into American life. Confession: I do not like home assignment. Sure, it is great to see my family and friends. Sure, I love to talk about Japan every weekend in a different church. I do not enjoy being away for such a long time from my home and the ministry where God has called me.

Often as I prepare for home assignment and first get back to the U.S., I have these poor attitudes. As the years have progressed, I have become more open to home assignment.

Then this week, Luke 18:1-8 got stuck on my radar. (Plus the rest of the chapter, which also has much to say about prayer!) My attitude toward prayer was brought under the microscope of God’s thoughts. My attitude toward home assignment was also brought under that microscope.

I understand the importance of prayer for ministry in Japan. I know that my prayers alone are not enough. I know that there are people around the U.S., in my supporting churches and other churches, who pray for me and for the ministry in Japan regularly.

We need these ‘persistent widows’ to cry out to God day and night.

God hears our prayers. He wants us to come before Him day and night. He will listen. When I take time from ministry in Japan to be part of ministry in the U.S., I share stories, I share how God is at work, and I share how we see God preparing us for ministry in the future.

Hopefully, through this sharing, the ‘persistent widows’ catch the vision and passion and bring us before our loving God.

Through this passage I was reminded to pray persistently. I was also reminded, “What is impossible with men is possible with God,” (v.27), and that when Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 41), we can give a direct request and expect a direct reply.

What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Have you asked Him?

Have you asked others to pray with you, persistently?


Note: the shirts that Shan and her friends are wearing can be purchased at and will also be on sale “in person” at the Sonshine Festival in Willmar, MN.