MissionNext Blog

What About My Physical Health on the Mission Field?


There are many potential diseases and dangers that can affect your physical health when you are serving overseas on the mission field. They may include malaria, HIV Aids, Ebola, TB, syphilis, sleeping sickness, whooping cough, measles, MS, Autism, Diabetes and many others. Our saints in the faith who have served, or are serving abroad, face these threats to their health every day. Today’s threat of terrorism and political persecution is real as well. “OK. You scared me. No overseas assignment for me. I will stay and be a missionary right here at home.”

Is that what our Great Physician Yahweh-Rophe – the Lord who heals, desires for us?

If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.” – Exodus 15:26
In Mark 16:17-18, we read, “In the name of Jesus, the sick are healed.” If there is healing, there must be sickness throughout our entire world. Imagine a person raised and living in a germ-free environment who is then forced to live in a dump full of sewage and waste. Jesus existed in a perfect sin-free environment and chose to come rescue us in our sin-filled, dark world—He came from light into darkness. He was not only tempted as we are, but took our place on the cross to make us righteous in Him, through faith.

Christ came to be what we are so we could become what He is.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Christ cares for us wherever we serve or live. Our physical health on the mission field and everywhere else is under His watchful eye.
“Casting all your care upon him; for He cares for you.” – I Peter 5:7

Mission agencies care about your physical health on the mission field

When my wife and I joined a large mission agency, we were required to take term life insurance and contribute to a retirement fund. At the mission center, a Medical and Dental Clinic was available that cost about one-third of medical services off site. During our thirty years of mission service, the advantage of the agency’s medical, dental, vocational and counseling benefits, helped our lives to be healthy and productive. We were open and transparent with leaders and fellow missionaries and felt that we were in a caring family environment. It is interesting to me that while we were in mission service we had fewer health issues then before missions and after. We know that God allows sickness for His glory, drawing us to depend on Him and showing others who He is. Health issues are God’s loving yard stick to measure our relationship in Christ. Before, during and after serving in missions we should strive to maintain good health as we remember that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual health and warfare

At a MissionNext event, I was going to give a presentation to mission agency recruiters on relational recruiting. We had a team leadership meeting the evening before,  and I went right to bed after a time of prayer for the next day. In the middle of the night I was awakened with a cold sweat, dizziness and overwhelming fear. I tried to get up but slumped to the floor, unable to talk or move to the phone for help. Three hours later after crying out the name of Jesus, I regained my strength and went to breakfast. At breakfast I shared my experience and was told that Satan will often attack just before a time when he knows God will be glorified. But God is greater. The presentation was well received and Jesus was honored. Praise God! Our God will keep us safe in Him wherever we serve. His desire is that we help fulfill the Great Commission. Keep on keeping on. The best way to find out what health services mission agencies offer is to talk to them! Start by filling out a profile to see which ones will be a good fit for you and go from there! 
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Mike Gallagher spent thirty-six years with Wycliffe Bible Translators and then served with MissionNext until his death in 2021.

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5 thoughts on “What About My Physical Health on the Mission Field?”

  1. We served in the Philippines for only three years on one of three centers in technical support. As Communications Director I traveled to all three sites as well as taking flights to remote villages and ocean-going ferrys. Our two remote centers were self contained with security, good communications and our own water system. While where we lived would be considered a developing country per se, we were still some distance from formal medical help. The issues we faced were not so different from the US save for being far from a hospital, and the activity of a fringe terrorist group in some more remote areas.

    We received good pre-field medical training, as well as hardening ourselves as targets. … [We did have security and health challenges. (Edited for brevity.)]

    Our daughter has served many years in Africa with the Peace Corps and other NGOs and they all took extreme precautions for her safety, but she still had to be evacuated from three countries where she served, and she continues to serve in Africa to this day.

    Our God is our protector and healer wherever we are, whether at home in an urban center, in the countryside or in a remote jungle village. While missionaries do experience more risk than the average person living “back home” we wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Our God is an awesome God!

    • This is a great comment. I have always been deeply moved by the Apostle Paul who remarked, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24 (NLT)

    • Sometimes waiting on the Lord is good. In the mean time you can be fruitful where you are. From John 15:4 we learn, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” From the same Jesus talk at John 15:7 it is “If you remain in me and my words remain in you … ” Let His word dwell in you richly.

  2. Ps 119:71,75,76 talk about how affliction is good because it presses us into the Lord. I don’t enjoy affliction, but by God’s Word, I know that it is good for me.


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