Confession #147: Are you ready to be a missionary?
Last month, on two separate occasions, I had the opportunity to meet with three different people who are all trying to decipher God’s will for their lives: Is He calling them to Haiti or not?
It’s a conversation Hunter and I are all too familiar with. We’ve been there ourselves and have helped others walk through the process too. We understand the excitement one feels when God is calling them to serve in another country. After all, we felt it too.
While meeting with these potential missionaries, all three asked me one similar question: “What do we need to be ready for?” It’s a question I so desperately wished I had asked before deciding to become a missionary. In reflection, today I thought I would share 5 things Hunter and I wish someone had told us to consider before becoming missionaries. Not that we would have changed our minds, but had we known, we would have moved with much more accurate expectations.
1. Are you ready to give it all up? Now I’m not just talking about the obvious. Of course you are going to give up comfort, family, your favorite foods, and home. You know that going in and chances are if you are considering becoming a missionary you are okay with the sacrifice. But I am talking about much more. Before packing your bags, please decide if you are ready to give it all up. Your pride, time, personal space, freedom, choices, safety, health, sanity and much more- are you willing to give those things up as well?
2. Are you ready to not being liked? Hunter’s first memory of Haiti is walking out of the airport on our very first trip and being flipped off by a young boy. Since then, we have had multitudes of people not like us. I realize as missionaries you are going somewhere to help people, and naturally, you’d think they would like you for that. But turns out, that is not always the case. Some people won’t like you because you won’t give them money. Some won’t like you because you won’t hire every member of their family. Some won’t like you when you require them to do their job. Some may not even like you simply based on your skin color and nationality. Are you ready for that?
3. Are you ready for spiritual warfare? Let me be a clear as possible: When you go out into the world to love people and bring glory to God, God will go with you, but so will Satan. I know we don’t like to admit that, but it’s the truth. And you need to ready. It has never failed, the more good we try to do, the more Satan tries to tempt us, distract us, and send evil forces our way. On the mission field we have gotten to know the power of God in might ways, but we also have seen Satan at work in ways we never experienced in the States. Before becoming a missionary, please make sure you have your spiritual armor on. You are going to need it.
4. Are you ready to not know anything? Hunter and I often tell people that the longer we are in Haiti the less we actually know about Haiti. Meaning, we came here thinking we knew a lot but overtime have come to realize we actually don’t know much about anything. And we have had to accept that. Are you ready to live in a place where you may never understand the culture? Where you may never fully know the language? Where you may not know much of anything or understand anyone? For some, going to live as learners rather than knowers is difficult, especially if they were knowers at home. So before going, ask yourself, are you ready to not know anything?
5. Are you ready to grow and stretch no matter how painful? For months I have been dealing with leg pain. Although nothing is for certain, my doctor and physical therapist agree that it is probably sciatic nerve pain stemming from my lower back. One of the exercises I have to do everyday is lay flat on my back and massage various pressure points with a tennis ball. Those five minutes of my day are excruciating. Seriously, I want to cry almost every time. But the relief I feel once the time is up is so worth it! It’s the same on the mission field. Wherever you go, be ready for all your pressure points to be pushed. Instead of running from the pain, however, I encourage you to stay, stretch a little, and let the painful times grow you and strengthen you. If you want to be a missionary, don’t expect easy times ahead. Decide in advance if you are ready to grow, no matter how painful it may be.
Moving to Haiti a little over 5 years ago, I wasn’t ready for any of these things. Now, obviously, I survived. But oh how I wish I had someone to give me the heads up. If you are someone who feels God leading you to a life overseas, please take the time to ask yourself: Are you ready? If the answer is yes, I don’t know, or no and you have some questions, please feel free to send them my way. I’d love to help you as you consider your calling as a missionary.
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