“A call to the ministry is a call to prepare.” I remember hearing these words over and over through my years of Bible College. It is true. I think it applies to missions as well. We can say that a call to the mission field is a call to prepare. Our last post dealt with preparation in culture adaptation. We will be focusing on an internship for this post. When we speak of an internship we are talking about actual time on the mission field with a veteran missionary who is working hard and seeing results. This is a time where the intern experiences culture shock, learns the language (at least for the time he is there), learns the ins and outs of church planting and man training from the veteran missionary, and gains experience by assisting in the churches on the mission field. I believe this to be a most important part of preparation. Let me tell you about our time as interns.
Leslie and I (with our 3 daughters) spent 6 months in Arequipa, Peru and 5 months in Santiago, Chile. Here are some of the things I learned during our internship…
- Language: While there we learned the language for 6 months. We arrived knowing almost nothing. We started learning from a teacher who did not know any English. Each day we would put into practice the things we learned. Over time we began to converse more and more. We got a taste of the difficulty and the necessity of knowing the language.
- Culture: Arriving on the mission field is exciting. In a month, the excitement wears off and you are left with life in a culture you just don’t understand. Little things become big. Things like going to the pharmacy take great effort and cause confusion. The temptation is to look at the different things that the country does as “strange” when in reality it is the norm and you are the “strange” one. During our internship we learned to overcome many of these differences and difficulties.
- Learning: For me, I think the greatest thing I received from my time as an intern was learning from the veteran missionary. The two men we were with were incredible men, seeing God do great things in their ministries. Multiple churches were being started, men were being trained. I learned to look beyond just “planting a church” and to look far down the road at what my life invested on a mission field could yield if I gave 40 years. How many churches would be planted? How many men could be trained? How many lives would be changed by the Gospel? To do the most for Jesus, this would not be a 5-10 year portion of our lives, it will be our lives! We also experienced ministry with people on the mission field. We served in the churches, interacted with believers, and learned how to do ministry on the mission field.
Preparation is very important to those who will give their lives to another people. It is much more than just “jumping on a plane and moving across the sea.” It is learning to become one of the people you are reaching for the cause of Jesus! A great way to prepare for such a task is to intern under a veteran missionary who is actively training men and planting churches.