You want to go on overseas missions? Great. What should you bring? The list tends to grow quite rapidly. Plus each kid you bring you add at least two bags per kid. We have 4 Boys. We have our own section. I am only kidding—sort of.
Here’s the real question: what preparation do you need before going overseas? Of course you need to have a heart for reaching the lost, the ability to go overseas, and an understanding of and respect for the people you’re going to engage, but what about deeper things? How can you prepare your mind for what ill happen and understand the cost of following this call? These are some things to think about as you pursue missions.
My family and I are in a year training program to prepare people from overseas mission work. We live in New York City and witness to the unreached people groups who are living in the city. We have been here for 9 months. We’ve learned the strategies of church planting techniques, ethnography, cross cultural Bible studies, and more. But to me, the most helpful thing has been preparing for the difficulties that come. Missions is a hard work. People leave family and friends to move to a foreign country. They leave house, career, and worldview. I say this not to scare anyone, but rather to prepare. Jesus told us to love Him more than anything (Matthew 10:37). We are also told that whoever leaves these things will receive 100 fold more (Matthew 19:29). We just have to prepare ourselves.
Six Tasks for the Missionary
This list is taken from a book by Connie Befus called Sojourner’s Workbook: A Guide to Thriving Cross-Culturally.
She gives six tasks for a missionary to do in order to successfully endure the first year of missions work. Manage Stress, Build Behavioral reinforcements, grieve loss, retrain your brain, maintain and promote spiritual formation, and re-identify your identity. Each of these tasks are important and could take hours to explain them all. I will focus on one – the one that was most interesting to me. Grieve loss.
Grieving the loss of___________.
What is worth grieving when you go overseas? Truly there is more than you can imagine. We moved from Oregon to New York City—a long distance to be sure. What could you miss when you’re still in the U.S.? We knew we were going to miss our friends. We lived away from family. What else was there to miss? Lots. The great outdoors for our boys to be boys. None of the people in our neighborhood would come to our house so hosting was lost. Oregon way of life. Spontaneous friends. Social identity. As we listed these off we realized there was so much we really had lost. We also never allowed ourselves to ability to grieve.
Give yourself permission to grieve
Hearing Connie Befus’ talk gave us a new perspective. All those things needed to be grieved. Maybe not cried for or wept over, but at least understood as things we lost. Once we were allowed to grieve them we could move on. Not to say we will never grieved again, but rather we could move forward without being crippled.
So for you who are looking at going overseas, prepare your mind for what will come. Read Connie Befus’ book and know that what you give up for Jesus is not wasted even though it is painful.
Interested in Missionary Training? Learn more about out EQUIP Training program.