HE SAID/SHE SAID. YOU SAY? “WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D KNOWN BEFORE YOU WENT?” PART II

Missed Part I? Grab it here!

“I wish I’d known how hard it really is.”

I would have gotten more cross-cultural training, especially focused on the culture to which I was going. I would have taken more time in language learning. But most of all, I needed realistic expectations.

Working in a foreign field is the same as being in a war. I know: I’ve fought in both. And the similarities are striking.

There is not much glorious about warfare. It may look exciting on TV or in the movies, but in the trenches it’s a lot of hard work. And the enemy has ambushes everywhere. Often you can’t tell the enemy from the friendly. And your friends get injured and killed. It hurts.

The culture won’t make a bit of sense. You’ll even resent the people sometimes, or think how they do things is ridiculous.

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He Said/She Said/You Say? “Should I go overseas with an organization?”

Part I: The “Yep” Side of the Argument

Agencies make you more effective.

Agencies differ, but most of them offer these services:

  • Placement. They tell you about openings and opportunities in the countries where they work.
  • Financial support. Agencies usually require you to raise your own financial support. However, they guide you in this process, giving you materials to give to potential supporters and helping you describe what you’ll be doing. Once you’re accepted by the agency, they provide your supporters with tax-deductible receipts.
  • Orientation. Crossing cultures is a demanding experience, both intellectually and emotionally. Good mission agencies can be of great help, since they know the culture where you’ll be going and how best to prepare you. They will recommend a language-training option and help you find your way around the country.
  • Supervision. We all need supervision to guide us in our work, help us learn from our mistakes, and encourage our development.
  • Member care. Early mission pioneers were pretty much on their own. Now more mission agencies look out for their people: their spiritual needs, their intellectual growth, their plans for furlough, the education of their children, and their preparation for retirement.

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He Said/She Said. You Say? “How can I know if God’s calling/leading me overseas?” Part I

I’ve written before that my husband’s and my decision to shuffle our family of six overseas wasn’t perhaps as clear as we would have liked. But when I finally arrived overseas, y’know the funny thing? Everyone’s story and path on how they got overseas was completely different.

None of us had heard an audible voice, to my knowledge. That would have been nice, considering all the times you wonder what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into; all the times you’re second-guessing because the work and the results didn’t look how you thought. Did I hear you right?

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He Said/She Said. You Say? “What do you wish you’d known before you went?” Part I

“I wish I knew how to deal with conflict.”

Answer from Paul, who served in Uganda and Rwanda for two years.

When you want a job you usually put on your best for your prospective employer; it’s like a first date, you hide all the bad and accentuate the positive. Unfortunately, I discovered after two failed attempts to work with agencies, this not a good way to “get married” to a sending organization.

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He Said/She Said…You Say? “Is there any way other than begging for financial support?”

Back in the day when my husband and I were first considering a financially-supported ministry, I was so stinkin’ geared up to raise my own salary pretty much against it from the get-go. And I’d even seen my parents do it (and do it well). In fact, since I knew what it involved, I was like, reasons not to go: 1) We have to raise financial support. (It may have also been reasons #5 and #8.)

But it’s been 14 years now. Just as God used to sell a certain number of books to keep me employed or bring a certain number of tithing Christians to church to pay my salary, he continues to sustain my family through people who catch the vision for what we’re doing around the world.

And there are a lot of reasons I’d call my old self up on the phone and say, Do this. 

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