Navigating Reverse Culture Shock for Returning Missionaries.

As you step back onto familiar ground after your time serving overseas, you might anticipate a comforting return to the known and loved. However, for many missionaries, coming home can be as much of a cultural adjustment as going abroad. This phenomenon, often less talked about, is known as reverse culture shock.

Understanding Reverse Culture Shock.

Reverse culture shock occurs when you return to your home culture and find that you are experiencing confusion, disorientation, or even frustration with aspects of life that once were familiar. It’s not just about getting used to driving on the other side of the road again; it’s a deeper sense of feeling out of place in your own culture.

This can be surprising and disheartening, but it’s a normal part of the reentry process. It stems from the changes you’ve undergone while away — in your beliefs, values, attitudes, and even in the way you view your home culture.

Tips for Reintegrating into Your Home Culture.

  1. Acknowledge the Change: Recognize that you have changed and that it’s okay to feel different. You’ve had unique experiences that have shaped you, and it’s natural that this would create some dissonance upon return.
  2. Give Yourself Time: Readjustment doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself as you navigate through this transition period. It’s okay not to feel at home right away.
  3. Stay Connected with Your Mission Community: Keep in touch with those you served with or others who have experienced living abroad. They can provide a sympathetic ear and valuable advice.
  4. Share Your Experiences, But Respectfully: Sharing your experiences can be therapeutic, but be mindful of how you present them. It’s important to avoid comparing cultures in a way that diminishes the value of your home culture.
  5. Find Ways to Incorporate Your Experiences into Home Life: Look for ways to integrate the positive aspects of your mission culture into your daily life. This could be through food, customs, or continued language study.
  6. Seek Out Like-Minded Individuals: Engage with groups in your community who share similar interests or have had similar experiences. Churches, mission organizations, or cultural groups can be a good start.
  7. Set Small, Achievable Goals: Setting small goals for your readjustment can make the process feel more manageable. Whether it’s reconnecting with old friends or finding a new church community, take it one step at a time.
  8. Practice Self-Care: Pay attention to your mental health. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, consider seeking the help of a professional counselor who specializes in cross-cultural issues.
  9. Keep an Open Mind: Just as you adapted to a new culture when you left, try to see the return home as a similar adventure. Embrace the changes and look for the beauty in rediscovering your own culture.
  10. Remember Your Purpose: Remind yourself of why you went on the mission in the first place. This can help you reconnect with your sense of self and your faith as you navigate the complexities of home.


Returning home from a mission is a journey in itself, one that is often underappreciated. Acknowledging and understanding the concept of reverse culture shock is the first step towards a healthy readjustment. Remember, it’s a phase that eventually passes, leading to a richer, more comprehensive perspective of both the world and yourself. Welcome home, and may this new chapter be as enriching as your time abroad.

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