My Story: Surrender–and the Dreams We Give Up

By Denise Rhoades

I had turned 40 in the spring of that year–and was still single. As in, never married. I had miraculously become a follower of Christ five years earlier (less than 10% of people do at that age. So yes, it’s a miracle!). I had briefly lived as a global worker in West Africa and was about to finish a Master’s in Missions. I felt only one gaping, jagged hole in this jigsaw puzzle of my life: a dream I’d held for nearly as long as I’d been alive. I wondered where I’d lost pieces along the way: for a husband. A family.

Path to a White Flag

On Labor Day weekend that year, my church was hosting a singles retreat in Branson. I had decided to not go; a friend cancelled on me last minute. But then there was my pastor’s wife. It’ll be fun!

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FREE PRINTABLE INFOGRAPHIC: 5 WAYS TO PRAY FOR GOD’S WILL AS YOU CONSIDER GOING OVERSEAS

It was a big “aha!” for me when I realized God wanted me to do his will even more than I did.

I used to think I needed to be alert for the smallest sign, the slightest indication of what He wanted. Wasn’t that being surrendered? I thought. But for me, I was a bit afraid of missing the signs. I ended up traipsing around on spiritual eggshells, deciphering some Christian version of the tea leaves.

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My Story: Culture Shock, Mayonnaise, and the Last Straw

BY CARL BUSER, RADIUS INTERNATIONAL ALUMNUS

That was the last straw. I’m done with this country. I’m ready to punch this guy in the face, I said to myself silently.

One more time, I spoke slowly–patiently, even–into the phone. “Sir, please, just make the sandwich like you always do. Except this time, just don’t put mayo on it, like I asked. It’s the same sandwich! It’s just that in the process, mayo won’t be added!”

“I am sorry sir, but we do not do custom orders. We do not accept returns or refunds either.”

I now attempted to yell in this new language. “I WILL THROW THIS SANDWICH THROUGH YOUR WINDOW. I DON’T CARE IF YOU WON’T TAKE IT BACK!”

He hung up.

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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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#BestoftheBestFriday: Your First Year; Staying Emotionally Well; Aspiring to a Leadership Role

 

Getting a Great Start: Five Best Practices for Your First Year on the Field

Pioneers USA weighs in on your first year there: How will you wish you’d spent it?

While you’re at it, don’t miss this wise post from A Life Overseas: Tips For Your First Year.

Staying Healthy Overseas: Emotional and Mental Wellness

Elizabeth Spencer writes, “It is easy to get burnt out while living overseas. I know that, you know that, but are we doing enough to make sure we don’t get burnt out? The answer for me is almost always ‘no.'” Here, she offers wise advice to create longevity and health in your global work–reminding us all that there are many things, but only one is important (Luke 10:41-42).

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Prayer: A Voice When Words Fail

By Denise Rhoades

Arriving in your host country, you’re eager to get started.  But it’s been six months, and language learning has been killer. Your new language has three different n sounds made with varying positions of your tongue.

It’s exactly what happened to me as I relocated to West Africa. I recognized that a deep sharing of Jesus as their sin-taker and life-giving Savior with my new Muslim friends was going to be more like a marathon than a sprint.

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#BestoftheBestFriday: Answering the Critics; Language Learning Infographic; Africa & China’s Unique Dynamics

Is Missions a Joke? Answering the Critics

There are some well-aimed critiques being leveled at global work lately, which may make you question the validity of this work altogether. Amy Medina from A Life Overseas addresses some of the most painful and poignant criticism by authors/bloggers/podcasters like Corey Pigg, Emily Worrall, and Jamie Wright–the latter of whom writes, “I came off the mission field with a new mission which is to burn down missions.” This one is a must-read…and may explain a tiny bit of why Go. Serve. Love has recently released our self-assessments. Well done, Ms. Medina.

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My Story: Prayer like Oxygen

I hadn’t been following Jesus that long when I wheeled my bags onto a West Africa-bound jetliner. For seven months, I lived with an unreached people group. Together with other global workers, we were teaming up to create an oral Bible.

Suddenly, I tumbled into a world where prayer no longer seemed like a “good” thing to do. It felt a little more like…oxygen.

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How Ready Am I? FREE Self-Assessment for Global Workers, Part III: Relationships

When I moved overseas, my capacity shrank. See, the Africa slice of my pie was simply…ginormous.

Everything took about three extra steps. Need to brush your teeth? You might not want to use water from the tap. You’ll need to fill your water filter or boil it; if your water’s off for the day, you’ll need to haul it in from outside.

As this blogger posted on Go. Serve. Love a few weeks ago, surviving can feel like 90% of your life. It chomps into your availability for, say, work or ministry. My husband felt like he was only able to accomplish about 50% of what he’d normally be able to accomplish in his job.

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How Ready Am I? A Self-Assessment for Global Work, Part I

When I was 23, an editor position opened up at the publishing house where I was working. In the vein of having integrity, I approached my boss with my interest in the position.

“You don’t have the chops for that job,” he told me point-blank.

His blithe directness, to be frank, chapped my hide. But looking back now, there’s no doubt in my mind he was right. I’m not sure if I have the chops for that particular job now. Yet it did make me take a look at the job itself and gradually appreciate just how off my self-assessment was–as well as my understanding of the job itself. And honestly, I buckled down to eventually be the kind of person who could qualify for a job like that.

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