The moment was surreal for us. It was the spring of 2015, and my husband, our 2-year-old daughter and I boarded a Boeing 777 to visit what we thought was to be our future home in Southeast Asia. However, when we landed on the ground for our two-week visit, we quickly realized how unprepared we were for the mission field. The teams we visited seemed to be floundering in a variety of ways. But we also realized we did not understand enough to know what was missing or how to fix it.
We were clueless.
This country, in general, seemed like the wrong fit for us. We came back to the U.S. discouraged and overwhelmed. We needed more than theological training — we needed some hardcore missionary training. My husband and I felt the need to sit under the guidance of people who were actively working in missions. We needed to be taught and mentored in effective methodologies for the field. Our family needed help working through our own internal struggles. Only then could we come up with clear-cut objectives, goals and our own philosophy of ministry for long-term effectiveness.
We needed a missionary training program like Equip.
Missionary Training Aids in Long-Term Adjustment
For a family, the adjustment to missionary life in a place like New York City is completely transforming. Learning new healthy rhythms that value ministry time, training time, team time, God time, and then balancing them with healthy family time is tough. Sometimes, near the beginning, it felt almost impossible to wear so many hats. And then I would hear a gentle whisper, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I knew God had led us here and was making our way straight.
While this missionary training program is not for the faint of heart, it has genuinely prepared us for real missionary life. We work crazy hours. It is not a 9-5 job. Instead, we work when our unreached people group is off of work — late nights and weekends. It has given us a realistic picture of what is in store for us in the future.
But the good news is that we have mentors and coaches who are here to do life with us and help us during our first year of mission work. They are helping us process all the changes and the stress and the busyness. This is not something we would have gotten had we moved straight to the mission field.
We are still facing our final move at the end of this training year to Asia. However, past families have reported that the second move is such a small transition compared to the first move. This is because we now have the tools for successful transitions. The initial shift away from everything our daughter knew was so completely foreign to her. Now, she has been introduced to cities and public transport and life in ministry. This will aid in healthy long-term adjustment when we make our permanent move.
Missionary Training Brings Families Closer
The good news is that I can honestly say that our time here in New York City has brought our family closer than it has ever been. We have finally realized we must lean solely on the Lord for strength. When we do, it becomes possible to do this as a family of three and thrive while doing it. We are loving life here in New York City. Every day together is an adventure — whether braving walking in the snowstorms together or playing in the parks to meet new people! We are learning so much and seeing how we are being prepared for ministry. We have a new level of confidence in evangelism that we have never had, and it is second nature to us to bring a Bible story into a conversation. And this cannot help but rub off on our daughter!
Whether a family decides to homeschool their children or put them in a public school here in New York City (like we did), it is possible to get the whole family involved during a missionary training year. We truly believe we will all be better prepared and have a much quicker adjustment time once we reach our destination country this fall because of our missionary training year.