(This may be another “inside baseball” sort of post.)
It seems that there has been a mental shift in cross cultural ministry. It used to be that a person who responded to the call to leave home and dedicate their lives to another culture for the sake of the gospel did just that—they made a life-long commitment. To be fair, in the early days of missions they didn’t really have such a thing as retirement, and many of the medical and political circumstances that end ministries today ended lives back then, but something else is at work.
Many in this generation seem to be incapable of taking the risk of commitment. A large percentage of people making a “career” out of missions are not willing surrender their lives but prefer to take things a few years at a time. They talk about the fact that God may place a variety of calls on a person throughout their life. That is possible, but these same people tend to also count on such changes. They tend to see hardships or “better” opportunities as signals of God’s call. Circumstances reign.
The greatest need in cross-cultural ministry is people feeling called to ministry from within the culture. Second to that, though, is the non-native worker called to make the new culture their home. Unfortunately, the trend we see now is for people to commit to merely a season—anywhere from two or three years to two weeks. Those commitments can be valid and helpful in their own way, but we need people called to make a new home… for life.