In Africa there are great needs and horizons of possibilities across the continent to go into unreached areas and places where little witness is being seen. From cities to villages, men and women are crying out for hope and desiring to know God personally. If you are sensing the call form God into cross cultural missions you need to know that preparation and having an awareness of what God has actually called you to do is vitally important before you go one step further. Jesus spoke of “going to the nations” yet he also said it was important to “count the cost and also to make sure you have what is necessary to build the structure.”
It is essential to consider that as we “go,” we have influence and effect others that we will minister to for good or for evil. It is critical that we take time to evaluate the necessities in order to know that we have not rushed in too quickly and unprepared, but instead we are fit for the task ahead. It is God’s heart that we bear good fruit from our ministry, and that the fruit effects people’s lives.
Below are just a few points to consider. These are ideas that we have found helpful and in many ways, are areas that we wished we had been a bit more prepared in.
1. Spiritual Preparation
What we have to recognize is that we are engaging a very real battle that is more spiritual than physical. From a western perspective we have to begin to train our hearts and minds for battle in a culture that is mostly spiritually minded.
- Being aware of the spiritual battle is non-negotiable and we must have a developed prayer and devotional life. This will be the foundation from which your daily life is lived.
- You also have to ask yourself, “How do I deal with stress, fear, anxiety and issues of purity?” A large part of the Gospel message going out to others is the way we live.
We found that the enemy will increasingly attack our heart and the areas of weakness that disturb our relationship with Him, which in turn affects our relationships with others. The attacks mainly happen through events in our daily walk.
It is so necessary to make steps towards understanding a culture and how to relate and minister differently than you are used to. You are in effect moving into someone else’s home and need to begin to understand how they work and live, not attempt to fit or fix them in your own agenda.
- You should make it a point to be aware of who you are going to, the challenges and possibilities of their culture, and how you can fit in as a servant leader. Some of this is done through reading books or communicating with missionaries presently there.
- Find out how the culture deals with relationships, money, and time. Each of these can be detrimental to ministry life and healthy relationships.
It’s important to recognize that these areas are so incredibly important since the ground where ministry intersects with the practical as well as relational needs is relationships. We weren’t always good at this but it requires a “learner” and “humble” mentality. We learned much through failure.
3. Family preparation
When you set off to enter into the mission field you must know how to minister to your family in a cross cultural setting. We found it helpful to approach the mission as a team rather than a group following one person’s vision. I am sure God has a specific and unique call on each of our lives and that He is sending “us” as a family.
- Depending on the ages, how do you plan to prepare and engage your children in the mission so that it is a group effort? Ongoing open conversations are extremely helpful in understanding their hearts.
- How do you plan on involving the kids in the culture and ministry or protecting them? Their time in the host culture is incredibly enlightening and helpful to their relationship with God and others. Assist them in finding their place.
- You must regularly ask; “Do I have a strong, growing and healthy marriage?” Ministry can often put incredible strains and a third culture increases that.
Sadly, we saw many families struggle and a number of marriages strain due to the stress and challenges of the mission field. God has called you but not at the detriment of your first ministry. These are also ongoing things to develop and healthy relationships on the field with other leaders and soul care is so important.
4. Home Team Preparation
Personally we have found we are only as good as those that stand with us. We cannot go about mission alone as if we can individually take this on ourselves. It is vital to have a good group of wise, consistent, and helpful people around us that can encourage, counsel and assist us in such a way that helps us to succeed and see a bigger picture.
It’s important to have an adequate financial balance with accountability structures, a prayerful group that stands with us and a relational team base that care for us personally and that know us and give us a sense of genuine transparency.
- There should be a balance between faith and finances, where we are trusting God for provision but not going out blindly, as well as accountability of the money that is coming in and where it goes to.
- We need to be actively interacting with a group of people to pray and connect and is there genuine transparency on your part to a group who are able to care for you soul.
This is obviously a summary of things to begin to think and pray through as you begin your great adventure to a place where God is moving in tremendous ways with some incredible people. Enjoy the process and let’s see what God will do with each of us!
African Friends and Money Matters – David Maranz
Leading Cross Culturally – Sherwood Lingenfelter
Runaway Radical – Amy Hollingsworth
Spiritual Warfare – Jerry Rankin
Cross Cultural Servanthood – Duane Elmer
Daring to live on the Edge – Loren Cunningham