The act of calling; – usually with the voice, but often otherwise, as by signs, the sound of some instrument, or by writing; a summons; an entreaty; an invitation; as, a call for help; the bugle's call. —Webster's Dictionary 1913
According to the meta-study ReMAP, between 1992 and 1994 one missionary in twenty prematurely left mission service each year. This implies the loss of half of all missionaries every thirteen years. With this in mind, it is widely thought that a clear sense of call serves to prevent such dropout. This detailed and compassionate study of Mennonite women missionaries in Central Africa finds this to be true—in the short term. But in the long term, the sense of call itself tends to turn on the call—resulting in burnout and dropout. Through extensive field work, the author charts the course of missionaries who remodeled the call—turning its burden into blessing. This is embedded in a careful theological analysis, drawing on a wide sweep of Mennonite thought and praxis.
“I soon became aware that many of the missionaries in my case study were struggling. The more I investigated, the more I became aware of missionary breakdowns and even dropout. Of course, there are intense stresses attached to missionary life—but the more attrition stories I heard, the more I began to wonder whether there may be a connection between the women’s interpretation of their call and their significant missionary wear and tear.” —Mirjam Scarborough