Mission to the World: An Examination of the Link between Motivations and Attitudes in Protestant Missionaries Assigned to Senegal, West Africa
McSwegin, Melissa Ann
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My research questions were originally based on determining the effect of living and working in a predominantly Muslim country on the religious beliefs of American Protestant missionaries. However, as I conducted the interviews, I discovered that most of the missionaries reported similar positive changes in their beliefs. Furthermore, they indicated in many cases that these changes could have occurred in any international setting, not specifically in a Muslim environment as I had originally proposed. Outside the realm of this paper, I suggest that this phenomenon is due to the close integration of the missionary community, which provides each individual with a readily accessible support network of people with similar belief structures. Regardless, it was not until after having completed the interviews that I remarked two different trends in responses regarding the rewards and difficulties of the job, as well as the use of specific language regarding Muslims. Based on these trends, I reconfigured my research question into a search for connections between the motivations of missionaries and how these motivations affected the reactions that the individuals have to their jobs as well as to the host nationals surrounding them. Since I determined these questions after having finished the interviews as well as after having returned to the United States, I was unable to draft another series of questions that examined specifically the question of attitudes as they pertain to motivations. Thus, although I feel that my interviews provide adequate data as they stand, I may have received different data had I begun my project with this new question in mind. Nonetheless, the interviews speak for themselves.