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GMI missionary Ted Rabenold informs us that there has been a cholera outbreak in Tanzania in a village where he had some of his men working. Here is a quote from Ted:

“Due to a Rukwa valley Cholera outbreak in which hundreds have been infected the TZ government has set up an emergency Cholera treatment clinic in Lumbesa village, located in the mud flats not far from our Nsanga station.

“Lumbesa is the actual site of the first few cases and heart of the outbreak. They hope that it will subside through education (boil drinking water-wash hands etc) and eradication of garbage. I was there when it started and had to evacuate my builders. It will probably take at least 1-2 weeks to get my construction crew back on site again.

“Outbreaks like this occur every few years. Usually when there is a long rainy season during the rice harvest in May-early June. Tons of laborers pour into the valley to help the locals harvest their rice and due to poor planning they go out to harvest without taking drinking water. Under duress they drink standing rice paddy water which has all sorts of fun microbes in it. This and the Rukwa heat can be a breeding ground for these kinds of problems.

Thanks for praying!

I expect my guys back at it again in two weeks tops.”

Please pray for those who have been affected by the outbreak and also pray that the cholera will be contained and not spread.

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Photo courtesy:

What Happens When You Read Missionary Biographies?

Do you think, “I could never be a missionary like that!”

Do you get excited and want to go to the mission field?

Does it whet your appetite to learn more about missions and what it takes to become a missionary overseas?

Does it challenge you to live a life sold out to Christ?

Does it challenge your faith?

Remember you don’t have to travel anywhere to be a missionary. You can be a missionary right where you are in your own home, in your own neighborhood, and in your own circles you travel in every day. It doesn’t require you to travel overseas to share the gospel.

Here is a list of some great missionary biographies that you won’t be able to put down once you start reading them:

PEACE CHILD by Don Richardson



LORDS OF THE EARTH by Don Richardson

BOUND by Vicki V. Lucas


CAPTURED by Carolyn Paine Miller

BRUCHKO by Bruce Olson




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Article and Graphics Credit: Bethany Global University

Written by Lillian Hunsberger

The first of anything always seems to get the most attention. We know who built the first light bulb, or who was the first one to successfully determine energy through lightning.



Some of us might also know who made the first toaster, or the first car. We know a lot of the “first” milestones that occurred in the world. But if I were to ask if who the first missionary was, what would you say? Even if we stick to the New Testament, the answer is slightly unclear.

Some people would say Jesus, because well… the Sunday school answer could never be wrong. Others say, Peter, because he was given the first big sermon that is recorded after Jesus’ death. Still, others say that it would be Stephen because he was the first person seized and martyred for His faith. And even still there are those who believe it’s Philip when he travels to Samaria to preach.

So which answer is correct? They all are, depending on your definition of a missionary; interesting enough the word “missionary” isn’t even in the Bible.  However, it’s interesting to search through the first couple chapters of Acts and see who may actually fit the definition of “first missionary.”

Was Peter the First Missionary?

Peter was a missionary, no doubt. But the question comes to whether or not he was the first missionary. People look at the time when he preached a sermon during the Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41). This sermon was given to the onlookers that saw the effects of the Holy Spirit coming onto the believers. This was a sermon of love, but also of conviction.  Peter was trying to get the people to see the urgency in accepting the truth of Jesus, the reality of the Gospel.

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” —Acts 2:38-39

Explaining the gospel is a really big part of being a missionary, and is so important for an individual to take hold of. But that’s not the only thing that is important to take on the title “missionary”, let alone “the first missionary.”



In my opinion, Peter was being more of an evangelist in this situation. He was speaking to a group of lost, however, this was home to him. The Holy Spirit had just dwelled within them, and now He wanted to show those around Him the love and power that Christ instilled in him.

Was Philip the First Missionary?

The first story that comes up when thinking of Philip in my mind is Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. And this was a time when Philip really encapsulated “missionary”. But that is not the first time that Philip spoke the Gospel. Only a couple verses before the story of Philip and the Eunuch we see that Philip goes and proclaims Christ in Samaria (Acts 8:4-8).

In this situation, Philip did end up getting up and going. Which could help his case in being seen as the first missionary, but Samaria was considered to be “homeland” for the disciples.

Yes, he was sent off but it wasn’t uncharted territory, it wasn’t new for him. He had followed Christ to Samaria before and even in Acts 1:8, we see the words of Christ telling them that they will be going to all of Judea and Samaria.



We see that Christ had gone ahead and already went through Samaria in John 4, it was as if to prepare them for the Holy Spirit that would sweep through the land in time. There is a peace that must come from going to familiar places, smiling at old friends, working in the same place as you had in the past.

What’s the difference between missionary and evangelist?

So Peter and Philip were defined as an “evangelists” instead of missionaries, and you may be wondering what the difference really is.

It’s not an outrageous difference. But part of it is having a willing heart in order to “go”. This is part of the command that we see in the great commission. There is an aspect of leaving the comfort and finding courage in Christ that forces you beyond being an evangelist.



“So evangelism is speaking the gospel to everyone, especially those in your culture. Missions is realizing there are cultures and linguistic groups that don’t have anybody in them to do that.

And therefore we must make a special effort to learn languages, learn cultures, do all of the anthropological, methodological thought that is necessary in order to be effective culture-crossers to plant a church there who would then do evangelism.” —John Piper

Both are going to be used by God, and both have a major impact on the society. The only difference is one is in their society and the other is on a society across the globe.

Was Paul the First Missionary?

Some also believe that Paul was the first missionary. Personally, I take this stance in the sense that Saul (known as Paul) and Barnabas, who were sent off, to Cyprus (Acts 13:1-13).

After some research, I’ve come to the realization that Christ hadn’t been recorded going to Cyprus. This is “uncharted territory”. Paul wasn’t heading off to a place he had been before, but instead going off to where He felt God was calling him. There wasn’t hesitation or questioning of God. There was simple obedience to “go.”



“To stay here and disobey God — I can’t afford to take the consequence. I would rather go and obey God than to stay here and know that I disobeyed.” —Amanda Berry Smith

Fear is something that stops so many Christians from going, from doing the things that we think God is calling us to. However, looking at Paul, we see that those willing to go, willing to do the will of the Lord, are those that God used in amazing ways.

Was Jesus the First Missionary?

Oh the sweet name that you hear time and time again when you are in a children’s Sunday School Class, or even on a small campus like BGU.



People like Dave DeVries believe that Christ is the best missionary that there ever was. And rightfully so, but you can read more of his beliefs on his blog: The Greatest Missionary Ever. I don’t disagree that Jesus was the first missionary, in some ways. But there is also the idea of considering Christ a missionary at all that doesn’t sit right with me. A missionary is going out and telling people the good news, but the Jesus is the good news.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.   John 1:1, 14

I feel like giving Jesus the title of “first missionary” is limiting Him. It’s as if we are taking some of the glory and power of what He actually did for humanity. He created a path in which we can now become Christians and walk out our faith. God is the only reason why we can actually be a missionary, He is the reason behind it and the reason for it. But He, himself, is not a missionary.

So who was the first missionary?

To be honest, I don’t think it matters who the first missionary was.  It comes down to definitions and different ideas. On Bethany campus, I asked four different people and got four different answers.

What matters is that we have more missionaries to follow in their footprints. We need people who are willing to go and “take the gospel to where it’s not”. No, it’s not going to look exactly like the testimony of Philip, or the story of Paul, or the journey of Peter. But it’s going to be a leading from God according to His will.

We need missionaries, we are always going to need missionaries. Until every person has heard the Good News, until every tribe has the chance to praise His holy name, we will need missionaries.


Don’t get me wrong, the simple act of going isn’t the only qualification to becoming a missionary. Being a missionary is about devoting your life to God and essentially others. It’s about allowing God to work in the midst of the discomfort of being in a new place, and dedicating your future to an eternal mindset.

Being a missionary is so much more than just a job, it’s a calling. Though explaining and understanding that in complete detail would take a lifetime; thinking through the importance of a missionary and the job title is an important first step.

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Mike and Lynn Caraway who have served as GMI missionaries in Tanzania for many years will be traveling to Belize next week to survey that country as a potential GMI mission field. They will be staying with Matt and Lindsey DeYoung, former GMI missionaries who had to leave the field of Tanzania when their daughter Lola was diagnosed with leukemia. Following is an article that appeared in the “One Good Thing” section of the online edition of WZZM13, one of our local news stations in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 17, 2018.

Grace Bible College professor Matt DeYoung teaches students in Belize, after moving his family there late last year.

We are going international with today’s One Good Thing. A professor at Grace Bible College moved his family to Central America, and he’s invited some students along.

Matt DeYoung wanted to move his family to Belize. He then approached Grace Bible College about bringing students down there to teach them firsthand about culture and cultural intelligence. While Matt is living there on their farm with his wife, six kids, and three foster children, he’s now also teaching.

In fact, he’s converting some of his property into dorms for students and visiting professors. He calls Belize the perfect place to teach culture. Ten minutes from his house, he says he has friends who are Creole, Garifuna, Mayan, Mennonite and more.

One student who has already been there and back says, “There has never been a college course that has changed my perspective and taught me so much,” for immersing students in new cultures in order to teach them about those cultures, Matt DeYoung, Grace Bible College, and the students willing to go to Belize get today’s One Good Thing.

If you want to know more about the class being taught in Belize, you can read the following press release:

Cultural Intelligence has been a Buzz-Word in academia for a few years and it is just starting to go mainstream with the epicenter of cultural intelligence training right here in Michigan. A local college professor from Grace Bible College is creating the most unique approach to teaching students cultural intelligence and it all started with him driving his family of six and a dog from their home in Grand Rapids to the Cayo district of Belize in a converted school bus to start building relationships with the local community to truly expose students to people that are invested in the teaching of culture who understand what professor DeYoung is trying to do.

“We are all in” laughs professor Deyoung. We bought a farm, we are fostering 3 children and we are committed to building the most unique experience for college students. We want the trip to be authentic, safe and available for all students. That means buying a large property, converting it into dorms for students and a nice place for visiting friends and professors to stay.

We love Belize and think this is a unique way to draw students into Grace Bible College and to teach something I am very passionate about. Professor DeYoung fell in love with the idea of teaching culture because it has played such a dramatic role in his own life. His story involves worldwide travel, international adoption, fostering children from several different countries, living in Africa and now living in Belize. He believes cultural intelligence is essential to anyone in leadership. Cultural Intelligence allows you to better understand your people and use their creative way of seeing the world to solve problems and generate ideas.

Professor DeYoung describes Belize as “the perfect place to teach culture; Belize is a country of only 350,000 people but it is rich in culture. Within 10 minutes of my house I have friends who are Creole, Garifuna, Mayan, Mestizo and Mennonite. The fact that I live here and am invested in the community allows me to provide students with a unique experience that no tourist could ever receive. The other amazing thing about Belize is that there is no language barrier. The people speak English in every village throughout the country.

Matthew DeYoung has been a college professor for the last six years. De Young explains: “I think this trip says a lot about how special Grace Bible College is; Very few colleges or universities would have allowed me the freedom to follow this dream and build something this unique. When he approached Grace Bible College about moving to Belize and developing a trip that helped students develop their cultural intelligence they were amazingly supportive of the idea. Dr. Scott Shaw of Grace Bible College explains that the college supports him. Dr. Shaw went on the first trip, He explained. It was really a unique experience that will allow students to have a really unique, life-changing experience.”

Emma Summerfield is looking forward to going on one of the trips next year. “I have had classes with professor DeYoung the last 3 years. He genuinely loves students and is so passionate about this trip. Everyone on campus is talking about this trip, and how jealous we are of the pictures of students learning culture in tropical paradise.”

Abigail Bickler a senior from Grace Bible College just returned from the trip and explained that “there has never been a college course that has changed my perspective and taught me so much.” Matt has been my professor for the last 4 years. He has been a my business professor in several classes. Before he came to Grace we did not even offer a degree. Today I know that God called me to business and after taking his courses I know that I am prepared to be an incredible employee for any organization I get a chance to work for.

Professor DeYoung is also fulfilling his passion of creating jobs in developing nations. “I was a missionary in Africa with Grace Ministries International. They are an incredible organization, they taught me everything I know about the way respectful mission work needs to be done.” When we lived in Africa my entire focus was about business as a mission and giving people jobs so there would be less orphans and more opportunity for people. For the last 6 years Matt has been working for as the president and CEO of a franchise organization called Shine. They built their entire business around the Bible verse Matthew 5:16. Matt explains, “I got to watch men and women change their lives by starting a business, I got a chance to coach people through the process. I became more confident that I could coach business people in any size business. When Matt left Shine for Belize it was because he needed to take care of his family. They are adjusting to a new life after God healed his daughter after a 6 year battle with cancer, and because he knew that God had put a leadership team in place at Shine that was so devoted and incredible it was time to use his talents elsewhere.

The DeYoung family is now ready to take reservations for students and guests in Belize. To find out more please contact

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It wasn’t long ago we posted that Steve Sherman had finished two Swahili literature projects and today we are posting another update. Steve continues to work hard every day on his Swahili literature projects which are so needed in Tanzania and other countries where Swahili is spoken. He is using an office at Celebration Bible Church which was graciously given to him to use while the Shermans are here in the States.

Steve recently finished two more books bringing the total to 11 completed books. Planting New Churches is the product of Steve teaching a course at Tanzania Grace Bible Institute (TGBI) for many years. It lays out a 10-step plan for planting churches following the Pauline Cycle as shown in the book of Acts. It is an introduction to church planting designed to be used by a small group of churches to plant another church.

Women of the Good News – 10 Principles to Help Women Fulfill Their Christian Responsibilities was developed by GMI missionary Sue Vinton in the Congo. It teaches 10 biblical principles through the lives of 10 women in the Bible.

We praise the Lord that Steve has been able to produce these books during his time here in the U.S. and pray that they will soon be in the hands of those who can benefit the most by reading them.

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Tom and Michelle Sanchez left the States in January 2018 for Zambia to help the leadership of that country hoping to be able to raise the remainder of their financial support while they were overseas before they moved on to Bujumbura, Burundi. What you have below is an update from Tom and Michelle about their ministries and what they have accomplished in the months since they arrived in Kabwe. The picture above is of Tom at an Operation Mobilization sports training camp serving as the camp doctor.


Hi Team Burundi Partners,

Even as we write our greeting above, we are reminded that our time in Kabwe, Zambia, is short, and we are still looking forward to ministering in Bujumbura, Burundi. As we’re writing this, we’re headed to the airport to go back to the US to get ready for Samara and Phil’s wedding in the Portland, OR, area!  We’d like to share with you some of the work we’ve been involved in over the last few months.

We’ve been called on to help with pastoral ministry at Grace Church in downtown Kabwe where we’ve mentored and counseled Zambian church members and fellow missionaries, many of whom are in their first terms of mission experience. These young families are facing the challenges of raising their children while adapting to life and work in this part of Africa and they view us as veterans of mission life. We believe God has directed us in this opportunity to come alongside them to support and encourage these young families to serve Him in a foreign land.

Imagine a church where each week there is a different preacher, moderator, and one of five different worship teams who may be involved in leading the service. Now throw in the fact that you have about a dozen or so potential preachers and on the worship teams there are short-termers who help out for less than a year and like anywhere, people need to make trades and guest speakers show up that weren’t planned for. We also have the same problem we had in the US of hymns vs. modern choruses, and we can’t forget to add in a Bemba language song or two.

We prayed about where to start reorganizing the services and the Lord supplied a missionary who was an experienced worship leader and was prepared to tackle the job of combining several of the worship teams to reduce the groups from five to three. The larger worship team worked together for the first time during the Good Friday service. We may now have a team that can withstand the necessary comings and goings of its members. We believe the Lord is preparing the way for David and Hailey, the two GBC worship arts students, to have an impact while they are here in June and July.

The Good Friday service is something we put together and once a month we hold a “tea” at our home after the service so that members have a chance to fellowship before breaking up and heading for home. Some of the members are farmers who live relatively isolated lives during the week, so they need a time to get to know and stay in touch with other members. The tea is an important occasion for black Zambians to mingle with the mostly white African farmers and missionaries. We’ve been in dialogue with a potential new missionary family with pastoral experience who may be willing to take on overseeing this unique church after we leave.

Michelle has begun to work with Operation Mobilization and mentors Zambian elementary school teachers on the outskirts of Kabwe. The teachers are considered missionaries, and Michelle is assisting them to write their first-ever newsletters to their home churches. Seeking support and writing a newsletter is a new concept for the 17 teachers at the school. Michelle is hopeful that by coming alongside them she will help them get over the initial hump of sharing the ministry side of their work and giving examples of both struggles and successes.

We have obtained our work permits and driver’s licenses! It sometimes takes up to six months to procure both. We praise the Lord that this tedious, yet necessary step has been taken care of. Tom had to wait for his work visa/permit to come through in order to get placed at Kabwe General Hospital where he’ll volunteer part time in the outpatient department and nursing school. The nursing school’s academic year just ended and a new one should start in the next few months, so it is an opportune time to find where Tom can contribute to the education of Zambian nurses.

Please pray for unity during these times of transition. Bringing change is always difficult as people see the problems of where they are yet become fearful of what change might bring. May the Lord help us mobilize the early-adopters!

Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers and support! We are so grateful for each of you for holding us up in prayer!

Blessings and Love,

Tom & Michelle

P.S. Please see GMI’s Executive Director Jeremy Clark’s message below.


Having arrived in Zambia in mid-January, Tom and Michelle hit the ground running meeting with and discipling church leaders, thoroughly assessing our ministries and ministry partners, and encouraging local believers.Though they have been there for only two months, it feels like they have been there for years providing invaluable leadership on this field.

Looking ahead, here is the plan.Towards the end of this year, GMI would like for Tom and Michelle to move to Burundi to open GMI’s fourth new field in the past five years without having to return to the States to raise additional monthly support. To date they have half of the $4,619 in monthly support they need. Based on their currently monthly funding, they have enough funds to continue serving in Zambia for the better part of this year. However, they do not have enough to transition to Burundi without having to come back to the U.S. to raise additional funds.

To keep this effective, veteran missionary couple on the field, would consider increasing your monthly support if you are already giving or starting now to support the Sanchezes? You can give online to support Tom and Michelle’s ministry through GMI by clicking HERE.

Pressing towards the goal,

Jeremy Clark

GMI Executive Director

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Please pray for Nicaragua and our missionaries there. The country has been going through much civil unrest in recent days. Throughout the country there have been several demonstrations to which the government has responded using both the police and the military. News reports indicate at least 20 protesters and police have been killed during the last few days. The army has entered various cities and power and water are being cut off to different sectors of population centers. Please pray for peace and wisdom for the country. Also pray for our missionaries as they navigate the social upheaval while continuing to be lights in their communities.

Pictures: The army arrived in the city of Matagalpa over the weekend.

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Jerry and Sandi Bomers recently wrote this encouraging update praising the Lord for the growth of the church in Paraguay:

We have had some excellent moments in ministry over the past month as we just finished our first segment of the men’s Bible study and a women’s Bible study started up two weeks ago in our home. We can already see how God has been using these studies to develop relationships on a more personal level. We’ve had close to 100 people coming to the church at least one time per month now. We would love to see the consistency increase as these numbers are right around 35 adults, but this is a huge praise. In the last month we’ve had three new couples consistently attending. We will celebrate our one-year anniversary as a church in just two weeks.

Pray for God to open doors for a piece of property or larger building to rent as we move into the next year of ministry. We are finding that property and rental space are quite expensive within the city of Ciudad del Este.

Please pray for safety in travel on our two-hour drive to and from the city of Caaguazú. We will be changing the time of the Bible study to accommodate the work schedules of some of the Bible study members there. Please pray for the hearts of the people there to be open to the gospel and also to their call as a part of the Body of Christ.

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This information was first posted on GMI’s blog on February 19 of this year by Erin Kemper, but not everyone has a chance to read the blog, so I am reposting it here because it has such good information to read.


On the post today, we bring you an update from one of Steve Sherman’s ministries about the exciting progress that is being made! Steve Sherman has been a Tanzanian missionary since 1994. Please read and pray!

We received a couple of encouraging emails this last week. Sometimes you wonder if others see as much value as you do in a project that you are investing so much effort into. We know that the Grace Church of Tanzania wants us to develop and publish this literature because they are the ones who asked us to do it in the first place. But it was still exciting to see a couple of individuals step forward last week and offer their time and effort to help edit these books as an unpaid ministry. They told us, “We see so much value in this project that we want to be a part of it as an offering of service to God.” Both of these men were students of ours at TGBI who then went on to get higher educations. We praise God for the way in which he works in people’s hearts. We are also thankful for the reminder that this work is valuable. That said, we have two more books to report as finished. Steve finished the second of these just this morning translating it from Congo Swahili. Both of these books were written by Dr. Bill Vinton while working as a missionary in the Congo. The two books are:


“1 JOHN”

Teaching that Strengthens Your Christian Life


In this book Bill explores seven purposes that John had in writing to Christians with teachings on fellowship, sin, joy, God’s protection, love, forgiveness, and assurance of salvation.



God is Active in Your Life!


This booklet is a study on the book of Ruth which encourages Christians that God remains active in their lives even when it does not seem like it. It also explores the kinsman-redeemer type and its theology as it pertains to Jesus’ need to die for the sins of his fellow humans.

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You are either seriously considering missions as your new vocation or you finally gave in and have made that commitment to pursue missions full time. Now you may wonder what you can do to get prepared for such a life-changing venture. Once you apply to Grace Ministries International, you will go through different orientations, perhaps specific training geared for your ministry, and probably language studies.
However, you are wanting to know what you can do before all that happens to better prepare yourself and your family to serve the Lord around the world. Maybe you have not even contacted us yet, but you still want to get ready for this next chapter in your life. Here is the best piece of advice I can give: live here and now like you will live there and then. Let me explain this by taking you through a few areas of life where you can begin to live now like you will as a missionary then.
Do Ministry Now. Serving the Lord is the Christian norm. It is not a special calling nor is it something you begin doing after you pick up your luggage in customs in your new host country. It is something you do now and forever because you are saved. Not writing to pastors or missionaries, but to everyday believers in the church at Ephesus the Apostle Paul writes, “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). We were called through Christ’s death and resurrection—the ultimate and only sacrifice available for our sins which had eternally separated us from God. That’s quite a calling! Not only does this implore all of us to live honorably and righteously before God in this world, but if you want to serve the Lord on the mission field, you need to practice now what you hope to do then. Are you discipling others now? Are you teaching or leading Bible studies? If you are inclined to serve or
are talented at administration, how are you using these gifts for the Lord now? Do you share the gospel with others or are you waiting until you reach the field before you exercise your “calling” to do so? God desires that all men be saved (2 Timothy 2:4) and He has given us the privilege of sharing the gospel of the grace of God until He returns. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity now!
You may have a full-time job which you believe makes it nearly impossible to give much time to the Lord. Remember, when you are on the field you will be the full-time missionary encouraging people who are working 40, 50 or 60+ hours a week to give of their time to the Lord. Not only do you want to practice good ministry habits now, but it is not a bad idea to put yourself in the shoes of those local believers with whom you will be working on the field.
Practice Self Motivation. Much of mission work requires initiative and intrinsic motivation. There usually is not going to be someone around telling us what to do or how to do it. While not all of us are leaders of others, we can all practice a degree of independence. What I mean by that is simply getting the job done as if it depends on us alone, doing it well as if no one else is looking, and seeing it through to the end. This is a skill and a work ethic which is learned and refined through practice. Here is a small example. No one told me to create this brochure. I saw the need, began the project, asked others to help, and now you are reading it!
Hand Over Ministries. If you are in ministry or doing ministry, what are you doing to hand over your areas of responsibility to others? In a practical sense, you may very well be leaving your ministry and heading to the mission field soon. So, who is going to carry it on when you leave? On another level, training others to do what you do (and even doing it better) is excellent practice for missionary life. As a missionary, the ability to train others to do a job and turn them loose to see it grow and flourish is a valid measure of success on the mission field.
Relationships. Practice good relationships now. You have all kinds of relationships at the workplace, at church, in your neighborhood, within your extended family, and in the community. When you get to the mission field your world, in a relational sense, will get a lot smaller. You may be working with only one or two other missionary families. You will not have a family network immediately available to you nor will you have that wide circle of friends you have here in the States. So, having healthy relationships
is all the more important. You cannot be indifferent to your relationships on the field as we might be more inclined to do here in the States knowing that we have other people, friends, or family members we can depend on for help or friendship. Practice treating people here as if you depended on them there. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
Family and Marriage. The same is true for your immediate family. The missionary life will draw your family closer together in ways you never imagined. However, if you do not learn how to deal with the stresses of life as a family now, the tensions you experience on the field could also potentially have the power to pull your family apart. One valuable discipline you can practice now is serving together as a family as you would then on the field. You will get to know your spouse’s and children’s strengths and weaknesses and how to set them up for success and avoid failures. Coming at the subject of relationships from another angle, if you are single and want to be a missionary, why would you ever date someone who has no interest in missions? You are certainly free to change your mind and decide you do not want to serve as a missionary, but if it is important to you and you think it will be for some time to come, do not settle for someone who does not share your same goal. On the flipside, if you are married and you want to be a missionary, but your spouse does not, you cannot force him or her to share your goal. All you can do is share your desire, pray, and wait.
Finances. You are not going to be rich on the mission field so practice living here as you would there. If you have debts, aggressively pay them off. Not only is debt one of the biggest impediments to people serving overseas, but by disciplining yourself to pay off your debt much sooner rather than much later, you will naturally force yourself to live on a reduced income. Even if your debts are paid off, put away as much as you can into savings. Not only is it good to save, but once again you will see just how far you are able to live below your means. Begin to look at spending in a different light. What do I want and what do I really need? What things must I have and what things are dispensable? You may have never thought about this before. The reality is the options for clothing, food, household items, and electronics will be drastically limited by the lack of availability, different options, or the increased cost of obtaining some of them. Instead of being shocked by what you cannot purchase then, reevaluate your wants now and find out what it is you really do not need.
Health. Living on the mission field typically leads to a healthier lifestyle. You tend to eat better and exercise more if nothing else because people walk to more places than people who live in the States. Start exercising and eating healthier now. Moving, adapting to a new culture, and learning to live in new surroundings are tiring enough. Why not reduce some of the physical stress by getting into better shape now which will certainly help you then? Not to mention, being healthier now will lead to fewer physical problems down the road.
Education. Aside from the requirement to have at least one year of college-level Bible education to become a GMI missionary, you may simply want to further your biblical knowledge. If you are going to teach, you need to learn. If you are going to train, you will want to be equipped. While this applies to your knowledge of the Bible, it also applies to any other area of teaching or training you anticipate doing while on the field. Furthermore, take what you learn now and put it into practice here. You are not automatically going to become a great teacher/discipler/equipper there if you are not doing it here. Ask other mature Christians whom you know well what areas of your ministry you can improve upon or where you need to step up your game so you can serve effectively on the field. This might require additional training or more ministry experiences.
Language Studies. Education also encompasses language learning. You are not going to become fluent or conversant in a language using Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, or poring over grammar primers and vocab cards, but it is a start! If you know the language of the region where you want to serve, start learning it. Sure, you will need to go to language school, but why not make it easier by learning as much as you can now? You will develop a basic understanding of the grammar and some vocabulary which will help you
acquire the language that much faster meaning that your meaningful ministry will also begin that much quicker.
Perspective. This might be the hardest thing to do now which will prepare you for life when you are on the field, but it is time to change your perspective about what really matters in life. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is by considering all things in light of your eternity with Jesus Christ and the eternity of the lost around you and around the world who do not know Him. When you do so, most other issues in life will fall into place. Paul often thought through these kinds of issues even as it pertained to his own life. He says in his letter to the Romans, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). Essentially, his passion for his lost Jewish, countrymen was such that he wished he were the one separated from Christ, not them! From prison he writes to the Philippian Church, “But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-25). Do I want to die to be with Christ or live for the purpose of bringing others to Him or closer to Him? That is an eternal perspective.
When we think this way our possessions, income, comforts, and conveniences do not seem all that significant any more. They are no longer pursuits which drive us day to day, but Christ and His salvation for others takes preeminence in our minds. What begins to happen is that when you think in this manner you declutter your life. In essence, it becomes that much easier to pick up and go. No longer do you have the attachment to so many physical things you do not think you can part with, your routines, habits, and endeavors which might hold you back. Having an eternal perspective frees you to enjoy your heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:19) while moving about the earth He created to share His salvation and His Word with the people He created.
Now get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
Grace Ministries International • PO Box 9405, Grand Rapids, MI 49509 • 616-241-5666
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