Okay, so you arrive on the filed. You are beyond excited. You have prayed, dedicated yourself, travelled thousands of miles, presented what God has placed in your heart in hundreds of churches, and you have either packed up, stored, or sold everything you own to get to this moment. As the plane touches down on the tarmac you can barely contain yourself. What is this going to be like? Maybe you visited the country on a survey trip or a missions trip some years ago. Perhaps you are thinking of all the wonderful memories from that trip. Maybe you are thinking of how beautiful all the pictures you saw of this country you will now call home. You get off the plane, grab all of your stuff and start the process of leaving the secured area of the airport.
Everything is beautiful (or in some cases maybe it isn’t as beautiful as you imagined). For about a month you may love everything about it. But soon, things start to change. This beautiful country is not so beautiful anymore. These sweet people are now taking advantage of you, the foreigner. The pictures you saw never expressed such dishonesty. The water makes you sick, the food that was so good the first few weeks just isn’t like the food “back home”. The dream starts to turn into a nightmare because you realize that this isn’t a 2 week mission trip, this is now your life.
What I am describing happens. The missionary’s dream of the mission field is just not the reality. So how can we combat this? I think the very best way is a 6 month internship with a veteran missionary. I know this seems like it “slows things down” on the missionary’s timeline. But this will prepare him and his family for what real life on the mission field really is. I can tell you that the above story was not our families experience, and I can tell you the reason for that was because of our internship. My family and I completed an internship in Peru/Chile in 2012. We learned a lot. We lived the good and the bad. We experienced the sickness from the water (not fun), we enjoyed the incredible food, we understood what it meant to miss family and friends back in the States, we lived our lives on the mission field. This prepared us for our ministry here in Argentina in so many ways. When we landed in Argentina, we did not have unrealistic expectations of how life would be, we knew what we were walking into, at least as much as one can know.
- We knew that trying to get around not knowing the language well was going to be hard and trying.
- We knew nationals would laugh at our attempts to speak.
- We knew that language learning is not fun (the only people who enjoy the process of learning a language are the people who have never done it).
- We knew that setting up would take much longer than we want it to.
- We knew the food would be different and the way of life would be totally different.
- We knew that culture shock was real and would be experienced in a few short weeks.
- We saw the “behind the scenes” of a ministry on the mission field and even helped serve in that ministry.
We knew all of this because we had already experienced it. Some say that experience is the best teacher. Although many missionaries can go straight to the mission field and God use them greatly without ever completing one, the truth is the vast majority of us would be better off going on the 6 month internship. It is not a necessity, but it is a great option. That being said we hosted interns in Argentina. Robert and Emma Becker are now on deputations as missionaries to Argentina. They were with us for 6 months. They arrived not knowing almost anything in the language, they didn’t know how to get around, they didn’t know how to use the buses, trains, or taxis. They didn’t know how to buy food. Through their internship they learned how to do all of that. They also served in the ministry here. They grew in their faith and prepared for the ministry. This young family is now ready to go to the mission field without any preconceived beliefs of what life on the mission field is. They are ready and will be successful on the mission field (they also are booking meetings right now, here is a link to their website: heisglorified.blog). They are prepared for ministry on the mission field.
You can be prepared like this as well. If God is working in your heart about the foreign mission field, consider an internship. Let us know if you have any questions. We will happily provide you with more details.