Daniel and his friends stood out amongst all the other wise men in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court, because “God gave these four young men knowledge and skill in both books and life. In addition, Daniel was gifted in understanding all sorts of visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17, The Message). Like Daniel and his friends, missionaries need specific knowledge and preparation in order to thrive on the field, and be properly equipped for fruitful and long term ministry.
What should you should have in place for effective cross-cultural ministry?
Here are six things you should prioritize:
1. Abiding with Christ
Firstly, you should have an attitude of abiding in Christ by spending lots of time with Jesus every day. These abiding times include personal worship, prayer, Bible study and meditation. This spiritual discipline is the foundation for longevity on the field. Without Jesus and His strength we cannot accomplish much. John 15:5, I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (NIV).
2. Clear vision and role
You should have a clear vision of what God has called you to do, which includes a broad strategy and goal. You should be able to explain this clearly and passionately to others so that you can invite them to become part of God’s plans by supporting you. Habakkuk 2:2, Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it (ESV).
3. Accountability structure
Joining a reputable missions organization will help you to be accountable on the field. Such an organization will be able to provide you with missionary training, help you prepare to go to the field, and give you cross-cultural guidance and pastoral care once you are there. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (ESV).
Missionaries who go the field fully funded and with a strong prayer support team behind them usually thrive on the field. Financial and prayer supporters give an additional level of accountability, and together with them you will be better equipped to fulfil a God-sized vision. Luke 14:28, For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and compute the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? (NIV).
5. Missions training
Going to the field without cross-cultural missions training is like a doctor who wants to operate without equipment. When we talk about missions training, we are not referring to Bible school or seminary training. While those are important for missionaries, research has shown that cross-cultural training has a direct effect on the fruitfulness and longevity of missionaries on the field. Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (NIV).
6. Committed to language and culture learning
You should be committed to dedicating enough time for language learning before you start with ministry. Full-time language learning should be no less than six months, and even up to two years depending upon the language. Without proper language and culture knowledge a missionary is like a blind man trying to make his way through a busy street. 1 Corinthians 9:20-22, To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some (NIV).
Have you done any of Didasko Academy’s free online missions training yet? If not, have a look here.