“I’m leaving the field.” In my short time on deputation and on the mission field I have heard this sort of statement foo often. I have heard it from missionaries on the field and missionaries on deputation who haven’t even left for the field yet. I must preface this by saying some leave as God closes doors and leads that way. I believe that. I know one man who teared up as he told me about how circumstances were leading he and his family to leave the mission field. He did not want to do it and I am convinced he still would rather be on the field than back in the States. His circumstances left him no option. Missionaries leave the field for different reasons and many of them are justified in doing so. Unfortunately this sort of situation is not the norm and there are also many who leave the field for other reasons. “Its not what I thought it would be.”, “This language is so much harder than I anticipated, I just can’t do it.”, “The culture is so cold and we are not accepted.” I think a big reason for missionaries leaving the field is that they were not prepared. They had a dream, and that dream was beautiful. They had wonderful intentions. They wanted to reach others for Jesus. But when they started deputation or when they arrived to the field they found out it was not at all what they had dreamed, hoped, or especially prepared for.
This is the start of a new blog series about preparing for the mission field. Someone who is following God’s leading to the mission field must start preparing. There are many things a man must prepare for as a missionary. “A failure to prepare is only preparing to fail.” Excuse the trite saying, but is is true. A prepared missionary and missionary family has a far greater opportunity of a long term career as a missionary. I want to make clear that I am a new missionary. We completed our deputation in 2 years and 1 week (God did amazing things in those 2 years and answered our prayer to complete deputation that quickly). We have been on the field for just over two years. Our first church plant (and only church plant thus far) is very young and fragile. I do not claim to be an amazing 5 term veteran. I am very new, but I do believe I have been prepared for this. That is not something I am bragging about but something I really thank God for.
Preparing for the mission field includes family preparation, preparation for deputation (raising the needed funds), setting up, learning a language, starting a church, and seeing growth in that church through outreach and discipleship, and training young men (something I am focusing on at this time). Again I am not an expert but I do believe God has prepared me for this ministry, and that includes intentional preparation. I also am in need of more instruction. I am very, very far from ever being at a place where I am not needing more instruction and growth. Maybe you are considering missions, perhaps someone you love is considering missions. Missionaries need preparation.
More to come in the next weeks, check back soon.