Perhaps Led Zeppelin said it best with their 1969 lyric, “Communication breakdown...it’s always the same. Having a nervous breakdown...drive me insane!”
While on the field, missionaries find themselves in unique situations and sometimes, a quick text or a brief phone call is all that is afforded in any given moment. I was reminded recently of an incident that may have just been a bit of a “communication breakdown.” Perhaps my experience can help you in your relationships and in your communication skills.
Sometimes my work leads me to have to travel many miles from my home base in Brussels, Belgium. On this particular day, I was partway through a long road trip through Eastern Europe, and was driving through an area outside of Mostar, Bosnia. As I approached the ascent of a dangerous mountain pass, I suddenly became aware that the ten black Mercedes in front of me crisscrossed blocking the road. Each of the cars emptied out with all of the men wielding guns and gunfire began to ring out. I quickly sent a text to my wife–who was over a thousand miles away at our home in Belgium–that read, “That moment when all the cars in front of you block the road and gunfire begins!”
Naturally, I snapped a quick picture then put my phone down to assess what was happening and what I needed to do to stay safe. Going through my mind was, ‘I’m not going to deny Christ—but whatever they are for, I am for.’ (Dear fellow grammar junkies: I prefer never to end a sentence with a preposition, but unfortunately, in that moment, my thoughts ended with a preposition. Please be gracious. As you can imagine, it was a stressful moment.)
About 15 minutes later, the spontaneous political protest subsided, and I was perfectly safe. I proceeded up the mountain pass, only to hear my phone chirp. When I was in a safe place to pull over, I looked down to see the following from my precious wife, “That moment when your husband sends you a text about blocked roads and men with guns blazing and he doesn’t follow up!”
Sheepishly recognizing my error, I replied by letting her know I was fine. We chuckle about it now. Communication is so important, especially in a technological age where we can easily engage in a one way conversation and forget about the other end of the conversation. I hope my humorous buffoonery can help you think about ways to avoid communication breakdowns in your own life.