When Jonathan Weverink married Sheila Dykstra, a CRWM missionary in Nigeria, his commitment to and love for her came with a lot of unknowns.
“We have an approach to our marriage where we take things one day at a time so I chose not to worry much about this uncharted territory that I was getting myself into,” said Jonathan of his move to Nigeria.
Since those first days of culture shock, Jonathan has come to realize three identities in himself that he didn’t necessarily realize came with being a missionary spouse.
1) A Western Nigerian:
Upon moving to Nigeria, Jonathan quickly noticed that in order to be successful at her ministry work, Sheila had to “become Nigerian.”
“In a way I’m married to a Nigerian, Jonathan says. “Her ministry task of improving education here doesn’t mean making it Western. Instead she has had to adapt to the Nigerian way of doing things.”
Now Jonathan is figuring out what that Nigerian way of doing things means for himself while also maintaining his own culture and beliefs. “I’ve come into this country with a set of Western beliefs that I just assume are normal and they don’t exactly work when I come here,” he says.
2) A Missionary:
Before moving, Jonathan didn’t really see himself as a missionary, but he says he didn’t really have a choice but to change this perspective.
“I’m thought of as a missionary here even though I’m still learning the culture, he says.
“In that sense, I think that everyone in a foreign culture is a missionary because everyone enters with a host of beliefs and they’re coming out of you whether you like it or not. It’s just up to you to decide what kind of missionary you are going to be.”
3) A Buffer:
Finally, Jonathan recognizes that even though he’s living in the same house as Sheila—and is sometimes confused with having the same job as Sheila—he still offers an outside perspective.
“I can see what’s happening to her and I can take care of her,” he says. “Sheila is very busy so sometimes I have to put a halt to things that I see as excessive, like a buffer. I can say ‘hey, we aren’t doing that anymore, it’s time for a holiday.’”
When you are praying for and supporting missionaries, consider this fresh perspective from Jonathan when thinking about their spouses.