Shane Salmon, Missionary to Thailand
As a missionary it is easy to find yourself the "resident expert" on the country you are going to. That is, until your feet hit the ground of the mission field. After spending two years talking about the country you are called to, you are finally there, but you are at a loss for how to begin your life overseas. I suggest 5 priorities that will help any missionary succeed in laying a firm foundation for their time on the field.
1. God's Word and Prayer. As much as it seems like the "Jesus" answer in Sunday School you must realize that you are embarking on a journey where you are going to experience the hardest tests of your faith, family, friendships, and possibly even health. Seek the Lord's guidance each and every day by studying His Word and praying.
2. Family. The excitement of finally getting to the field may tempt you to jump into the deep end when your family isn’t even treading water yet. Taking the time to make the mission field a place that your family loves and enjoys will make all the difference. This may mean spending a day a week being a tourist of your city, finding activities your kids can participate in, or searching for that awesome dessert shop.
3. Local Church. A local church is a great source of knowledge and wisdom to a missionary just arriving on the field (where else are you going to find out about that amazing hole in the wall noodle shop?). Connecting with a local church (if there is one in your area) while you are learning the language and culture is crucial. Serve where you can, even when you don’t know the language.
4. Local Life. Social media can be a fun, comforting, and even useful tool. However, it can also be a source of addiction, discontentment, and a place of retreat. Instead of opening Instagram, open your front door and get out into the marketplace, malls, parks, etc. Not only will your communication skills grow, but you will also find God-given opportunities to be His ambassador.
5. Culture and Language. As a missionary, you must become a life-long student of the culture and language on your field. Too often we feel the pressure to speed through language school to begin our ministry that, in our mind, will rival that of the Apostle Paul. Invest the time in your language and culture acquisition and the return will be worth every minute!
This first season of ministry on the mission field may seem daunting, but take comfort in the fact that the Lord has been preparing you your whole life for this purpose. Love God, serve your family, minister faithfully, and learn to laugh at yourself. It’s going to be quite the adventure!
Contact Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org