There is no shortage of ideas about what missionaries do. Some are accurate but many are not. Here is a quick tongue-in-cheek overview of what people think missionaries do (Download PDF).
What Supporters Think Missionaries Do
What Local People Think Missionaries Do
What the Secular World Thinks Missionaries Do
What Missionaries Actually Do
The Pictures that Got Left Out
I shared the above series of cartoons on Facebook and a people chimed in with other suggestions for what the pictures should have been. A missionary colleague commented that in Japan, "the second image might be two guys riding mountain bikes in suits with helmets on and black backpacks."
And the last picture about what missionaries actually do drew some friendly objections. A missionary friend involved in overseeing Bible translation projects liked the cartoons, but with this caveat, "Except what we're actually doing is sitting in front of a computer working on drudgery like editing training materials to be used in local translation, evangelism." No one cartoon can capture it all, and another person observed,"Funny, the missionaries I know are ACTUALLY doing things like helping prostitutes trade slavery for financial freedom, fighting trafficking, partnering with established local churches, teaching English etc."
And although nobody that I know commented on this, one missing picture from this series is what local Christians think missionaries do. I thought about this for a while and just couldn't come up with anything good. I'm happy to take suggestions in the comments section, though!