By: Dr. Brad Frye, Program Director and Latin America Director
This is the third and final part in our series on roadblocks to missions. In part one, we talked about calling and responding to God’s call to missions and we identified the six roadblocks we believe hold people back from pursuing the call to serve overseas. In part two, we specifically addressed the roadblocks of the need for more veterinary education, the issue of debt and paying it off, calling and how to discern where God might be calling you. In part three, we will address the roadblocks of spiritual preparedness, family and raising children on the mission field, and separation from family.
Spiritual preparedness – I am not ready
As one prepares for cross cultural missions there can be a lot to learn as one develops new language skills, learns a new culture, and develops ministry skills needed for the task. Most Veterinary professionals have spent at least 18-20 years of their life just getting their veterinary degree. Adding additional years’ bible schooling and language can seem like a daunting task. Having a growing faith is critical and additional bible training is import but much of it can be done as you prepare for the mission field and by committing to the lifelong pursuit of learning. As you look at how Jesus called his disciples he did not often call the educated but he equipped the called. Don’t wait to be confident in your skills but do engage in developing your spiritual discipline and understanding as you prepare and serve. Also choosing to serve with teams of others that have training and skills that complement yours can be a great way to build a team.
Some great steps a person can start to take to prepare spiritually are: participate actively in your local church by leading bible studies, serving on the mission committee, or enrolling in your local Perspective in World Mission course. Learn more about the biblical based approach to poverty alleviation through books and courses from the Chalmers Center.
Raising Children on the mission field – Will it be safe? How will we educate them?
Moving internationally, especially to the developing world, often holds some special concern. This can be particularly so for parents and grandparents of young children. These concerns are often about safety and schooling. While these are legitimate concerns sometimes our view of education and fear of the unknown in another culture can be an entanglement that takes our eye off the race God has called us to do. Just the opportunity to live overseas can be a great educational opportunity as education is much more than just schooling. If parents have a goal of their kids returning to their home country for university education, then they may need to pick educational options that equip them for that. In CVM, 50-60% of our families have chosen to homeschool, followed by using mission or international schools to provide for their children’s education. Often parents who said they would never homeschool have embraced it as a great option and have continued it once home.
Family – separation from grown children, parents or relatives
Every season of life has needs that surround family and these can be challenges to responding to the mission field. We see Jesus address some of these issues with those he called to follow him in Luke 9:59-62. These are real concerns and there is no formula for dealing with these other than to pray, gain advice and check our hearts for correct motives and trusting God’s provision. For the single person they can be concerned with finding a spouse on the mission field, for the married couple they may have concerns about a safe place to have a baby and for those with children is it a safe place to raise children. For those with older children who return to their home country for education or to establish their own families the separation can be a challenge for their parents. Also this is about the time your own parents may be getting older and need help. The bottom line, there is never a perfect time to go so don’t put going off. These are all legitimate concerns but make sure they are not just distractions for responding to God’s call. If God is calling you He will give you peace and ways to deal with these issues in order to be faithful to the call God gives you.
We have briefly addressed some of the more common roadblocks to missions. There are many more that could be addressed. If you would like more information on this topic, please try the following resources:
- Global Mission Handbook by Steve Hoke or Bill Taylor. This is great guide for those considering cross-cultural mission work
- If you want to see what other missionaries are saying about this topic check out askamissionary.
- Attend CVM’s mission orientation at Shortcourse each August in Kansas City where we spend several days addressing these issues and helping Veterinary Professionals explore or start their race toward cross-cultural mission service.
CVM also has a number of missionaries that would be willing to mentor you through this process. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.