The #MeToo movement has successfully pulled back the curtain on hidden misogyny and rampant abuse of women in US culture. #ChurchToo has highlighted the sexism that’s just as alive in American pews and pulpits. Women from churches around the country have shared their stories of being abused, silenced, and sidelined. As I read these accounts, I sympathized deeply. I have my own #MeToo stories and #ChurchToo stories. Yet, I also have #MissionsToo stories and they have yet to be given space in these movements.
The child of conservative missionaries, one of my first memories when we moved overseas was listening to the teary words of my mother’s friend, a woman recently arrived from the United States. “He’s my husband, and he believes that we should be overseas. My role is to be his helpmate and to submit to his leadership, so I am here to help him fulfill the calling that God gave him even though I never wanted to come.”
I was only eleven years old and trained by my community to believe that these words were gospel truth. Still, silent panic welled in me as I realized the implications of her words: a woman could be forced into moving overseas simply because her husband said so.
As I got older, I realized that this, while tragic and unjust, was mild in comparison to many other stories currently emerging from the mission field. Accounts of domestic violence, covered up child sexual abuse, and the alienation of women in missions leadership are not unusual. At its worst, the mission field has been a prison for women and children, conveniently far away from the eyes of caring family and friends, and away from the protective laws and resources available to victims of abuse in their home countries…
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