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Field Story Recruitment

8 Things I Learned from Being a Missionary

"I can do a lot in my own strength and in my own willpower. But when I get caught up in what I’m doing, it has zero eternal value."

1. I am weaker than I thought, and God knows what He’s doing.
I cannot do anything without the power of God’s grace. We all know that, but do we know that? I have learned that I am a very forgetful person. I also learn things the hardest way possible. I can do a lot in my own strength and in my own willpower. But when I get caught up in what I’m doing, it has zero eternal value. It is just busy work. It is amazing how when I turn back and rely on God’s power and not my own, ministry happens more smoothly, and lives are changed. I am to be faithful in the calling, God does the rest. He is the one who saves.

2. Missionaries are not special.
I am not sure where the idea began that overseas missionaries are the elite of the elite in the church. Let me tell you, I am not. I am just a person trying to do what God has called me to which included going to Mexico for a season.

As missionaries we struggle, we have times of uncontainable joy, we pray for clarity, we question if we’re doing the right thing, we get tired, we miss home, we have good days and bad days. Just like every other believer there are times when are tested. But God is using those seasons in our lives to refine us, if we allow it. We are sinful creatures who are continually in need of a Savior.

3. There is a power in prayer.
“Every step in the progress of missions is directly traceable to prayer. It has been the preparation for every new triumph and the secret for all success.” – A.T. Pierson

Sometimes I forget how powerful prayer is. It’s not always the first thing I run to when something happens. I’m becoming better at it, but I am still a work in progress. Ruth Haley Barton says, “Simply put, prayer is all the ways in which we communicate and commune with God. The fundamental purpose of prayer is to deepen our intimacy with God.”
Prayer is a time when I am focused on being in relationship with my Savior. It is a time I can intercede for others, especially those trapped in spiritual darkness. It is a time that my heart is softened, and it sets me up for being more sensitive to the Spirit.

4. Spiritual warfare is no joke.
Satan and his forces are real. I do not know many believers that would deny that. I have had some dramatic experiences because of spiritual warfare. I lived in a town that is full of witchcraft and satanic worship. It was a very eye-opening experience for me. But there is good news. God reigns, even over the enemy.

5. You may not always see the fruit.
I worked in two very different areas in Mexico. The first one, Mexico City, is a place where people are receptive and open to hear the Gospel. Sometimes we would see immediate results from a conversation about the Gospel. People typically very interested in why a single white girl decided to move to their city, it opened doors for conversation. It was not always easy but we did see results.

In the mountains, life was different. It is a small traditional town. Everyone knows everyone and their business. People tend to be more cynical and less open to the Gospel. It is a place where you might work hard your whole life and not see a new person come to know the Lord. Despite that, we did see some fruit, because God is still God, and He still changes lives.

6. Sacrifice is hard
Sometimes I have a hard time seeing my time in Mexico as a sacrifice. I feel very blessed that I had that experience. I was able to go to new places, meet people and do things most people don’t get an opportunity to experience. So many missionaries have sacrificed much more than me. But I suppose there was some sacrifice on my part. I spent time apart from the people I loved. I missed out on huge milestones for friends and family the States. I didn’t have some of the comforts that I grew accustomed to. There were times of loneliness and longing for something different.

Lots of people, me included, naively think that if you are working for the greatest cause of all - for all the nations to glorify God - then it shouldn’t be hard or a sacrifice. But that’s not true. But that’s not the end either.

7. You have the opportunity to trust God more than ever and He is always faithful.
Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives us the Great Commission. We’re all familiar with it. It says,
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”

Mixed into the commission to the nations is also a great promise. He promises to be with us till the end of the age. He will be there to guide, bless, encourage, protect, provide, and comfort.
There are many examples of how this has played out in my life.

No matter how much you prepare to move to a different culture, you are never fully prepared. You have expectations that are never met, learning a new language is hard, and you don’t even know how to do basic things like getting groceries, paying bills, etc. Those things get easier with time, but you still must learn to rely on the grace of God daily to get through.

Whenever I felt discouraged with the ministries, no matter what the situation was, God always showed up in an unexpected way. Sometimes it was a message from a friend. Sometimes it was a donation that I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes it was watching God work in someone’s life. He is faithful. He can be trusted.

The longer you are on the field the more you realize that you can’t control what is happening. I had to learn to be patient and trust that God will put the pieces together the way He wants, and it will likely look different then the way I want it to.

8. It takes a village.
My life and my ministry in Mexico was only possible because of the hundreds of people who faithfully supported me financially and through prayer. I am not sure I could ever express the amount of gratitude I have for all the people who have believed in me and trusted me enough to send me. Every prayer and financial supporter sacrificed. Every person has a responsibility to the nations. For some it’s going, for others it’s giving financially, but for everyone it’s praying!

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