It’s the middle of the night. You’re in a grass hut in the middle of nowhere listening to the sounds of wild animals sniﬃng and snorting outside. The hyenas are yipping and yapping loudly. It’s scary and it’s not what you signed up for.
In the morning you feel it’s safe enough to venture outside and you ﬁnd yourself sitting among a group of people whose language and culture you don’t know. Worse still, they clearly indicate that they don’t want what you are ‘selling’ and there’s only camel’s milk for breakfast.
While some missionary workers can be found in situations like this, in today's world this scenario is probably the least likely.
More likely you will be living in a downtown apartment in a major city in Asia, Africa, South America, or even in Canada. Or you could be in a house in rural village. You won't be living large, but you'll have access to most amenities. You are part of a multi-disciplinary team who have diﬀering skillsets. Your team members may comprise an IT geek, a graphic artist, a nurse or a water engineer. There are even good schooling options for your children. What's not to like?
You've spent 12 months in language and culture study and in that time the team has helped you build relationships in the community where your skills are being used and appreciated.
Your relationships turn into friendships, and you naturally begin to talk about the spiritual aspects of life. Friends and workmates see that the way you live is diﬀerent. They begin to want to have what you have… an intimate relationship with Christ.
Is it always like this? Do you see hundreds or thousands of people coming to know Christ through your eﬀorts? Sometimes, but not often. The reality is that living and being Christlike does not automatically lead to converts. There could be days, months or even years where you see no-one come to Christ. There could be a lot of spiritual opposition. And sometimes being a Christ-follower can be risky.
But the really good news is that it’s less about what you do and all about what Christ does – in His timing, not yours. Christ prepares the hearts and minds of the people He’s calling. What He needs from you is your presence on the ground to be His obedient servant.
You never know how the seeds you plant and the small contributions you make will go on to grow, multiply, and aﬀect the hearts of hundreds of people long after you are gone.
And then you see beggars on the street, emaciated children, whole families living under a plastic tarp that is their home. They’re surrounded by thousands in the same position. How do you deal with abject poverty while you live with your 1st world comforts?
There are no simple answers, but you know that you can turn to your coach who has ‘been there, done that’ and returned for more. They will guide you, encourage you, pray for you.
You’ve heard that you need to fundraise. That’s not you. It’s scary even pick up the phone and talk to people, let alone hit them for money.
Relax. God has already gone before you. He’s already prepared the hearts and minds of those that you contact but yes, you need to do your part. Fortunately, SIM have coaches that can guide you through the process. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Hmm. This can be an issue. Sometimes family – particularly parents – are concerned for your welfare and safety. They want to see their children succeed and lead safe, happy lives. The want to interact with their grandchildren.
Sometimes members of the family are unwell, suﬀering from health challenges or simply aging. You feel guilty leaving them.
The fact is that almost every missionary worker faces these issues and challenges. Of course, every situation is diﬀerent, but your SIM guide can help you through this process.
You will likely still be able to enjoy some of your favourite comfort foods, but probably not as often as back home. You’ll soon learn to appreciate food from other cultures and chances are that over time you’ll begin to love the local food…so much so that you’ll miss it when you come home to visit family and supporters.
Best of all though, sharing a culture-based meal with your new neighbours will be the fastest way to form deep and lasting relationships. You’re going to be poor and miserable.