Long-term missions are invaluable when it comes to living out the Great Commission. This is especially true when reaching unreached people groups. Missionaries who want to pursue long-term missions get valuable training with our Equip missionary training program before they ever get to the mission field. New York City is home to more than 52 unreached people groups. This makes it a prime place to learn about the daily rhythms of missionary life. Through Equip, the Holy Spirit is preparing workers for long-term work as missionaries.
Balancing Team and Outreach During Long-Term Missions
One of the greatest learning curves in the preparation is balancing team relationships with ministry relationships. Long-term missionary teams tend to go one of two extremes. They may focus too much on team dynamics and relationships with believers — to the exclusion of outreach. Or they become so absorbed with building relationships with non-believers that team relationships suffer. Neither of these is healthy or what Jesus intended for his Church.
At Equip, we take an up-close look at how we view the Body of Christ. We also examen the community on our teams and relationships with those we seek to reach with the gospel. Our personal paradigms in each of these areas affect one another as well as the way that we seek to minister. The same things we learn and experience now will still apply during our long-term missions. This year at Equip gives us a head-start on learning the balance of team and outreach.
It is amazing what you learn about yourself when placed in a situation where strangers quickly become your community for 10 months. As a team, we get the honor of sharpening each other as iron sharpens iron. It is an honor, but in the moment it often does not feel like a joy. Yet through the painful lessons of humility, we grow together — which is reason for great joy.
Our growth is not only in or for ourselves. No, it is a growth that causes us to grow into the Head — Christ himself. And the growth we experience in Equip is one that we hope will only continue once we move into long-term missionary work.
In New York City we are stretched in ministry, both internally – how we view ministry – and externally – how we act based on our viewpoint. The internal stretching most often happens through group training and team conversations. The external stretching happens through going out on the streets or campuses of New York City to put in place what we learn.
Both internal growth and external growth are essential in preparing for long-term missions. Yet in the midst of much ministry focus, we can see that our Father has a huge concern for our identities. More than tools and training, Equip can be a year of learning to see ourselves not just as missionaries, but as sons and daughters of the King.
I say “can be” because the choice to embrace identity is usually much more difficult than learning new ways of ministry. Identity turns up the soil of our hearts like nothing else. This is what Jesus intends: he wants to go to the depths of our souls. In rooting out lies, in learning to see ourselves through his eyes, in embracing our identity as the beloved of God — we are best prepared to be long-term missionaries.
Equip is preparing many men and women for long-term missions among the unreached peoples of the world. There are many, many ways this preparation plays out in New York City. For me, learning my identity as a daughter of our heavenly Father is my very favorite part of the preparation process. Balancing team and outreach, which leads to individual and group growth, is a close second. Praise God for his work of preparation to go into all the world for long-term missions as sons and daughters!
Interested in becoming a long-term missionary? Get training with Equip!