Buckle up for a crash course in Mission work 101.
1. Your schedule may start to seem like organized chaos
A lot of cultures do not operate on our nine-to-five schedule. Instead, they center around community, with deep relationship and flowing laughter around 9 pm coffee or chai. I do the majority of my mission work in the late afternoons and evenings into the wee hours of the morning. Schedules often end up being rather tentative and flexible, with people canceling or postponing or simply being unable to meet for whatever reason. I have planned my day around an evening dinner, and suddenly I am free as a bird. It is these moments when schedules feel like organized chaos.
2. You are never as prepared as you think you are
My husband and I thought we would get married and move overseas right away. We are now in our fourth year of marriage and are very grateful we did not leave so soon. We have been able to invest in our marriage and build a firm foundation on all we have learned about mission work and each other. But this is not just a piece of truth for married couples. This is true for singles that have a hunger and urgency to get to the field as well! Every person I have talked to from the Equip program has echoed this statement.
Equip has helped us see the potential pitfalls of church-planting before we got to the field. Equip has given us a new lens in which to view mission work. God willing, it will also keep us on the field longer. It is becoming clear through research studies that the attrition rates for missionary workers are high, but there are measures missionaries can take before leaving for the field to help prevent this, specifically pre-field training that looks at character, interpersonal skills and initial cross-cultural entry attitudes. I feel so grateful for the time spent at Equip. I have realized how much I do not know and accepted there will always be things I do not know. I have been humbled, and have come to better know the places in which I need growth and learning.
3. You will learn more about God than ever before.
As I confront the hard parts of mission work, Satan loves to try to wedge his way into our thoughts. When my schedule changes and people cancel their meetings with me, the enemy may sneak in thoughts like, “You are not doing enough. You are a failure.” When I realize I do not feel as prepared as I thought, he may attack with lies like, “Will you ever be ready? Are you cut out for this?” It is in these moments of attack from the enemy and in my own personal wrestling and questioning, where it feels like I am coming to the end of myself.
This is a scary place, but it is the best place to be. In these moments, I will confront lies about myself and lies about the Creator. It is here where I am able to throw yourself at God’s footstool and be reminded of my identity as a beloved Child of God and my value that comes from Him and Him alone, where I can see the faithfulness and goodness of God. It is here, when God is reminding me of my identity as a beloved Child when I can see Him clearly as the lover of my soul and giver of good gifts.
God is with us
This work is hard work; it often feels like I’m walking through a thick fog with a compass that only works half the time. And yet, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and He promises to be with us always. Mission Work is no easy task. The nature of the work itself is wild and unpredictable! We are choosing to engage in a very real spiritual battle, and we should expect attack from all sides. However, we can rest knowing that this work is not our own, and we are not alone. God who knows our every need and desire, and He has promised to never leave us.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21