When a missionary shows up on the mission field in an exotic country among people who speak a language that their tongue often twists to speak and whose culture is in your face, dramatically different from their own, the recipients of the missionary effort do not understand what went into preparation for that mission. They don’t know the sacrifices, challenges and struggles that went into the trip. Many of the missionary’s supporters at home don’t even understand the preparation that is required. In this update, I will let you in on some inside workings of the planning of a long term mission trip. I will DISSECT it for you because I am in the midst of this preparation for my upcoming mission to Thailand.
The preparation for a long term mission trip involves several fronts. I will address eight (8) fronts in this two part series. First of all, the missionary must arrange methods of, and caretaking of her/his PERSONAL FINANCES AND BELONGINGS. He/She must have absolute trust in the person who will do that for him/her. Most payments can be set up electronically for automatic payment, however, at other times, you need feet-on-the-ground, trusted individuals to help you take care of business that crops up. You need to be willing to give this all up mentally and emotionally so that you don’t worry about this on the mission field. If you are someone who likes to be in control of things yourself, this is a difficult task.
If the missionary has a house or an apartment, he may need to give them up or entrust them to someone else’s care. Some missionaries, like me, are required by God to give up every material possession except their clothing. This is also very difficult to do, especially if you had a lot to give up. That is a part of the spiritual preparation because it requires obedience. OBEDIENCE seals your commitment. I believe as the Apostle Paul, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”(Phil 3:7)
Concurrent with the arrangement for your personal finances and belongings, the missionary needs to RAISE FUNDS for the trip. For a long term missionary, this will require funds for living and ministry expenses for several months or years. Personally, fundraising is the most challenging part of the preparation for me. During my professional career, I was always independent and paid my way in all things. I DON’T LIKE ASKING FOR MONEY. However, my current circumstances are such that fundraising is required for my mission. I believe that God wants to give the Church the opportunity to be blessed in the giving. Those who give, pray and support the mission share its fruit. In order to be less stressful, a long term mission needs long term supporters. The missionary must share the vision of the mission and the long term supporter must catch the vision. Together they make a fruitful team . MY VISION FOR THAILAND IS THAT EVERY PERSON WHO HAS NOT HEARD THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST WILL HEAR IT IN SIMPLE TERMS THEY CAN UNDERSTAND.
MISSION ARY/MISSIONARY- RECIPIENT INTERACTION. In cross-cultural missions where there is a difference in language, culture and world view, the missionary must have a co-worker from the recipient culture. The co-worker helps the missionary bridge the cultural and linguistic gap. As part of the preparation, the missionary interacts with the Co-worker of the recipient culture in planning the trip and ministry events . There must always be joint planning to overcome cultural, linguistic and ministry barriers. Many phone calls, emails and other means of communication are necessary to plan and make the mission run smoothly. Sometime the missionary’s vision does not pan out the way he/she envisioned it. This is often due to lack of adequate resources and understanding in the recipient culture. I am now in the process of making phone calls, exchanging emails and messages to iron out the details of my upcoming trip.
MISSIONARY INTERACTION WITH SENDING TEAM. A strong sending/care team is necessary to assist the missionary. It helps the missionary in his/her preparation and supports the missionary to stay on track in the different aspects of the preparation. It maintains regular contact and monitors the missionary’s progress in all the areas that are being worked on. Some of the duties of the sending team is to to track fundraising, spiritual progress in Bible Study, Prayer and hearing from God. They also track progress in travel and ministry planning with the Missionary-Recipient. When the missionary is out on the mission field the sending team continues its work of tracking fundraising and monitoring the physical, emotional, spiritual and relational health of the missionary. This may be in the form of weekly phone calls between the missionary and sending team to make sure the missionary gets any help he/she needs in order to complete the mission. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a familiar voice or see a familiar face on Skype amidst the strange, unfamiliar culture where the missionary finds him. /herself.
Financial supporters are an essential part of the sending team. Without them, many missionaries would not be able to go on the mission field. Prayer supporters are another essential part of the sending team.
Much of the barrier to successful ministry in some cultures is spiritual. Without the Prayer support, not much fruit would be realized. Thailand is known for its resistance to acceptance of the gospel in terms of long term discipleship and longevity in the church. Many say they believe the gospel, but never dart their heads into a church. I believe that prayer was an essential component of my support in my mission to Thailand in 2013 which brought forth fruit in terms of new believers being disciple.
A successful mission requires months of planning, preparations and interactions at home and abroad in order to record success.
I believe that as you read this newsletter, you will have a better understanding of what planning of a long term mission entails. Whether you are a financial, moral or prayer supporter, your role is really important to my mission. Below are some prayer points which I would like you to pray for my mission to Thailand, 2015:
- That God will open doors for the gospel in Thailand. 2 Cor 2:12, Col 4:3
- That the eyes of the unbelievers of Thailand will be unveiled. 2 Cor 4:3-4
- That I will make the Gospel manifest, as I ought to. Col 4:4
- That my speech will always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that I may know how to answer each person. Col 4:6
- Grace for me to review and remember the Thai language that I have already learned, and that I will be able to pick up the language study where I left off.
- For a mighty revival to break out all over Thailand
- For the manifestation of Miracles, Signs and Wonders in Thailand
If you are a financial supporter or would like to become a financial supporter, you can do so by sending a check payable to Living Hope Christian Center and mail to :
Living Hope Christian Center
P.O. Box 99377
Emeryville, CA 94662
Or Online at: www.livinghopecc.us/longtermthailand
Include this Code in the memo section of your check: AO0826TH
(To be continued)