The Missionary Wife

II. In the Home

By Mrs. John Oss

Some one has said that the home is a castle where the man rules as king and the woman reigns as queen. But it is the everyday life lived in this castle that makes for success or failure in the destinies of the family, regard­less of their calling. The home life of the mis­sionary family has an important bearing on the success of their work, and everything should be done to make their home in a foreign land a vital factor in giving the last gospel message.

The home is, or should be, a city of refuge. It is here that the busy missionary worker finds quietude and rest from his many activities. So the home in a foreign land should be all that it is possible to make it under the conditions in which one is called to labor. The breakdown of the sanctity and the ideals of the home is one of the questions that is alarming leaders in every land, as it is recognized that collapse here will surely have its influence on the people of tomorrow. How important, then, that the missionary home in a distant land be a living example of all that is good.

The home of the isolated missionary, working perhaps alone or with a few associates, at some distant post, means even more than it does in more favored countries. As the missionary works away at his task, there are many influ­ences that depress. The impact of the non-Christian religions and the everyday native life that he sees on every hand, as he lives among strange and uninviting conditions, often tend to depress his spirits. As the tired missionary returns from long tours into the interior, or from daily work in the cities, what a comfort it is to step across the threshold into a home where he finds ideals that are high and elevat­ing and comforting.

The missionary wife, therefore, plays an im­portant part in the success of her husband's work. The keeping of a comfortable home, neat and clean, is not only a great help to the mis­sionary family itself, but is an example to the people among whom it is their privilege to labor.

As I think of the missionary home, and some of the ideals that should there be lived out, and what can be done to make it all that it should be, I am reminded of the following quotations from the Spirit of prophecy:

"The first great business of your life is to be a missionary at home."--"Testimonies," Vol. IV, p. 138.

"A well-ordered Christian household is a powerful argument in favor of the reality of the Christian religion,—an argument that the infidel cannot gainsay. All can see that there is an influence at work in the family that af­fects the children, and that the God of Abraham is with them. If the homes of professed Chris­tians had a right religious mold, they would ex­ert a mighty influence for good. They would indeed be the 'light of the world.' "—"Christian Service," p. 208.

"The restoration and uplifting of humanity begins in the home. The work of parents under­lies every other. Society is composed of fam­ilies, and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are the issues of life;' and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation, is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences." —"Ministry of Healing," p. 38.

In the Sacred Volume we have the instruc­tion, "Let all things be done decently and in order." 1 Cor. 14:40. The missionary home should be a place where everything is done in an orderly way, and on time. In the busy life in the mission field, with its varied activities and the lack of appreciation of the value of time or regularity among the people with whom one has to associate day after day, there is danger that irregularity will creep into the daily program of the home. But lack of order and regularity spells disaster. There should be a definite time for rising, for family worship, for Bible study; for serving meals, teaching the children, and doing missionary work; for self-improvement, recreation, and everything con­nected with the daily program.

One of the problems of the missionary, and particularly the missionary wife, is the problem of training the children. This is often difficult where the family is isolated and there are few or no school privileges. Under these conditions the missionary wife must become the instructor of her children in their early years. This train­ing is oftentimes made more difficult by the presence of servants who are so often needed in a foreign land. There is a tendency for the missionary children to look to the servants to do many things that they themselves should do, and that are necessary in their training. The children should be taught how to do definite things in the home, and should have an all-round training in the practical duties of every­day life.

"If married men go into the work, leaving their wives to care for the children at home, the wife and mother is doing fully as great and im­portant a work as is the husband and father. While one is in the missionary field, the other is a home missionary, whose cares and anxie­ties and burdens frequently far exceed those of the husband and father. The mother's work is a solemn and important one,—to mold the minds and fashion the characters of her chil­dren, to train them for usefulness here, and 'o fit them for the future immortal life.

"The husband, in the open missionary field, may receive the honor of men. while the home toiler may receive no earthly credit for her labor; but if she works for the best interests of her family, seeking to fashion their characters after the divine Model, the recording angel writes her name as one of the greatest mission­aries in the world."—"Gospel Workers," p. 303.

"Let not parents forget the great mission field that lies before them in the home. In the chil­dren committed to her every mother has a sa­cred charge from God. 'Take this son, this daughter,' God says, 'and train it for Me. Give it a character polished after the similitude of a palace, that it may shine in the courts of the Lord forever.' The light and glory that shine from the throne of God rest upon the faithful mother as she tries to educate her children to resist the influence of evil."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 37.

This brings me to perhaps one of the most perplexing of the problems of the missionary wife,—how to deal with the servants that are so often needed. I oftentimes wish we could dispense with these servants, and could our­selves do all our household duties; but there are so many things that need to be done amid inconveniences that it seems necessary at times to have these servants whose help can be had for a small sum of money, so the wife can give herself more fully to doing actual mission­ary work.

The subject of dealing with servants is so large that it can be but touched upon here. In a word, I would say, Avoid extremes,—that of turning too much responsibility over to them on the one hand, and that of too minute han­dling of them on the other. It is my observa­tion that the best work is done by servants when definite responsibility is placed upon them and their work is outlined in such a way that they are held responsible. Care should be taken to see that the cook serves only wholesome, balanced, and well-prepared food, so as to pre­serve the health of the family.

One should be kind to servants, but should also take care not to become too familiar. We should always remember that what our servants see in our homes and in our daily lives is passed on by them to the people with whom we labor, and that what they say either hinders or helps to a definite extent in our missionary labors.

"The greatest evidence of the power of Chris­tianity that can be presented to the world, is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. This will recommend the truth as nothing else can; for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart."—"Testimonies," Vol. IV, p. 304.

The missionary wife should therefore help make the home in the mission field a telling force for the message. It should be a place where the missionary can secure rest from his toil and find ideals that are high and elevating. It should be an object lesson in every detail to the people among whom it is planted, and should point all that come under its influence to Him who is "the way, the truth, and the life."

Shanghai, China.

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By Mrs. John Oss

November 1935

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