Some of you will recoginize the Re-entry stress part from the Livesay Haiti blog. It was so good that we wanted to share it here too. Nathan wrote this for our church newsletter and added the re-entry stress part. Enjoy!!!
By Nate Yonker
Have you ever heard anyone say the following, “ I went on a mission trip and my life has never been the same. I just can’t get those people out of my mind!” This is a phenomenon called “re-entry stress. This is a very real feeling that people have after traveling abroad and seeing the poverty that most of the rest of the world live in. The following is an article I took off a blog a while ago. I could not explain it any better than this.
Re-Entry StressThis is the process that you may experience upon returning home. Re-entry stress or reverse culture shock, generally is experienced to a greater degree the longer one has been in another country. Disillusionment with America and American Christianity play a part in any re-entry stress that is experienced.Initial ReactionsIf this is your first trip outside your home country you will be exposed to things you have never experienced first hand before, such as the plight and poverty of many in developing countries. It is not uncommon upon returning home to become disturbed and even bitter toward America’s opulence and waste.When you return you will be excited to eat the “Big Mac and large fries” you have been craving. Your family and friends will be proud and excited to see you an you will experience a “high”. You have just conquered the unknown, been used greatly by God and you will be the center of attention. Soon, however, this “high” drops and re-entry shock may begin.Following are a few examples of possible reactions you may experience. Be prepared to deal with life back home in light of your new experience. All short-term ministry/missions workers will experience some degree of re-entry stress.1. Self-concept – Any life-changing experience can cause you to re-evaluate who you are in light of the experience. Questions about the meaning of life and its direction may be a part of the re-entry process. You may decide never to go outside the United States again or you may discover that there is a call on your life to ministry outside the United States. Questioning life can be good, but the uncertainty of the answers may cause some stress.2 Value Change and Choice – Clashes between you and those to whom you return may occur in several different areas, such as material possessions, family life, racial prejudice, national priorities in ecology and politics, and Christian community conflicts.You may face the problem of integrating what you have just seen with what you see around you at home.
Your eyes may be opened to the shallowness of Western Materialism and you may want to react by telling others they are wrong to own so many “things”, eat so much food and waste so much.3. Expectations – You will have had many expectations for your trip about the culture and language differences, the new and exotic country and God’s purpose for you making the trip. However, you may not have expected the reactions you may encounter when you return home. You may find that you feel like a stranger now in your own country. You may have expected your family and friends to be as excited as you are about your experience and become hurt if they show little or no real interest about something that has made a tremendous impact on your life. Realize that many will just not be able to understand what you have been through. This seeming lack of interest can reinforce in you an opinion that American Christians are just not interested in the rest of the world and are simply lovers and pleasers of self. You must guard yourself from becoming resentful toward family, friends and American Christians.4. Sense of Loss – You may experience a sense of loss over new-found friends and places or from being disconnected from the rest of the team. Your recent experience is not the nitty-gritty reality of everyday life. Being in a strange country, away from all familiar cues and the security of familiar faces and places can facilitate a tendency to become extremely close to fellow team members an when you return home you may experience a sense of void. It may take sometime to readjust to your life as it was before your trip. You may also feel a loss of purpose and self-importance. God has just used you greatly to minister to the needs of others in a different country and when you return this purpose may seem somewhat lessened.
For those of you who have been on a mission trip, you are nodding your head in agreement right now. For those of you who are getting ready, or thinking about going on a trip, you are most likely questioning whether this can happen to you. For those of you who know someone who has been, or is going on a trip, you might be understanding them, and what they are going through a little better. If you attend Lighthouse that is about 100% of you!
Mission Mobilization was started 9 months ago. We had a simple vision. If we could inspire and enable people to go on mission trips, not only would the Gospel be preached and the Kingdom advanced, but when people returned they would have a fire in their soul that could not be extinguished. This summer alone, 42 people will be dealing with “ Re-entry stress .” This could prove to be the most exciting time Lighthouse has ever experienced! Are you ready to join in and have your whole perspective of life changed? Many more trips will be available in the future. Next month I will tell of some ways you can get involved without having to leave the area. Take some time this summer and talk to one of those returning and find out how God has changed their life. The fire of revival has started to burn, lets fan the flames together and let God turn them into a roaring inferno!