Question about Guidance for missionaries:
"How long should I plan to go: one year, two years, or longer?"
I'd encourage you to think long-term. Some studies suggest that missionaries typically reach their season of greatest fruitfulness when they've been on the field for seven years, but the typical missionary serves a shorter time than that.
Mission service is diverse. If you are going to serve among minority groups in a place like North Africa or East Asia, you may need to learn several languages. If you serve in a war-torn or unstable area, there may be years when you are off the field waiting for a visa or open door to return. So we need people who can stick with it long term.
On the other hand, most mission agencies also have opportunities where you can serve effectively even if you only stay for a year. English-teaching positions and missionary schools are among those often glad to take people who only plan to come for a year.
In some ways, then, how long should I plan to go is the wrong question. Take your next step, planning to serve God wherever he leads you for the rest of your life, yet recognizing the duration of your ministry in any given local is in God's hand.
Incarnation: Jesus modeled for us how to do ministry and mission. Two years may be long enough to live among a people, develop relationships, and allow them to see and know Christ.
Life transformation: Those that go for two years will develop life-long habits, faith postures, and global paradigms that will affect how they see the world and how they live the rest of their lives in a way that short-term missions cannot.
Seize the season! Now is the season to go and follow Christ to the least reached. Take the time between jobs or before launching a career to go and help propel their understanding and involvement in their role in God's global purpose.
"In commencing my remarks, I take you as you are. You are contemplating a missionary life. First, then, let it be a missionary life; that is, come out for life, and not for a limited term. Do not fancy that you have a true missionary spirit, while you are intending all along to leave the heathen soon after acquiring their language. Leave them for what? To spend the rest of your days in enjoying the ease and plenty of your native land?"
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