Question about Missionary Training for missionaries:
"What are some steps commonly overlooked by aspiring missionaries?"
1) The confirming call of the church and the Holy Spirit (see Acts 13:2-3). It was the confirming call that sent Paul and Barnabas, and that kept Timothy in Ephesus. And it is often the memory of the Church laying on hands and setting them apart for the work of the ministry that keeps many missionaries on the field today.
2) Pre-field training. Every agency has their pre-field orientation, a time to go over policies and procedures. Too few engage in true pre-field training. A one-week trip to Mexico is NOT pre-field training! Assumed, that skills and experience specific to the type of work the person will do on the field have already been mastered, additional pre-field training should include:
Principles of cultural adaptation
Introduction to language acquisition
Principles of interpersonal relationships
Principles of spiritual warfare
Enculturating the gospel and teachings of Christ
Primary health care
3) Partners! Paul commended the Christians in Philippi for being "partners in the gospel" in six areas of care that he asked for, and the six areas of care that every missionary needs today. Member Care is getting more attention today, but the actual building of a team of partners is still a long way from being the norm.
Study to know your area (country) of mission work and its people and culture; many mistakes can be avoided this way.
Without a prayer and support group, both back home and abroad, you will almost certainly fail. We could never have accomplished what we have without the prayers and support of our partners back home and in country.
Finally, be sure you fully understand the laws of the country(s) you will serve in, in terms of travel, residence, and employment. It's often very difficult and expensive once you arrive in-country to accomplish needed paperwork.
From a practical perspective, you will have many expenses and financial needs for the ministry that you don't anticipate (travel, office supplies, resource materials, etc.). Most sending agencies will help you understand and plan for these needs, but don't overlook these critical ministry expenses and don't push your agency to send you before you have adequate support. My wife and I made the mistake of beginning ministry without developing an adequate partnership team, so we are constantly torn between the demands of our work and the need to raise support. Potential partners will feel a greater urgency to send you to the field than to help you stay on the field, so develop an adequate support base before you begin serving.
From a spiritual perspective, you need the support of a strong team behind you. You are entering the battlefield and need reserves behind you. You may have sufficient income so you don't need financial support, but people will pray harder and be more committed to your ministry if they support you financially. When people financially support your ministry, you form a bond that grows over the years and you truly become partners in the gospel. I believe these are divinely appointed relationships that God entrusts to us, his servants. Yes, support raising is hard work and requires us to humble ourselves before the Lord, but you will miss a great blessing if you don't build a strong partnership team.
From those studies he learned a principle that has been a guiding light to successful ministry overseas: The mission is the vehicle that carries the message; the study of missions is learning how to deliver the message. But, without the message the mission is pointless.
Educate yourself in the how, but also in the what. Otherwise you will be like Ahimaaz in 2 Samuel 18:19-30 who ran faster, but had no message when he arrived.
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