What Missionaries Wish Short-Term Volunteers Knew…

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
2 Corinthians 2:14-15

✴ I recently sat down with a retired missionary, whom we will call “Sam”. He worked with an Unreached People Group in a restricted area of the world. I wanted to know, “What do you wish short-term volunteers knew before they come to the field…?” We talked about many subjects which will be the content for future EquipTips.

Our first subject was ‘Lostness’. Sam most wanted volunteers to know how to connect to and hear from God. This may sound very basic but unfortunately a large number of volunteers don’t know how to be still and listen to Him. “God reveals a model for reaching a people group that isn’t necessarily transferrable to other people groups or areas of the world. It’s not a formula, so you must be able to walk among the people and hear what God is saying in relation to the level of ‘lostness’ you are in.”

Sam encourages volunteers to be prepared for whatever level of ‘lostness’ God takes you to, by being so connected to the Lord that you will not become confused or rattled when things happen on the field. You will first turn to Him when the oppression of the enemy starts to press in on you.

Many years ago I was asked to join a short-term team, that would serve in the northern mountains of Thailand, after someone was unable to go. We were doing English camps in two remote villages that were highly steeped in Buddhism. Although this was the hardest trip I have ever experienced, due to the level of lostness and spiritual warfare, it was also the most precious one I have experienced with the Lord.

After the first day of camp, a fellow team member and I were escorted by a villager to a house in the village. It seemed the whole village was gathering at this house. Because we didn’t speak the language, we assumed they were going to do a culture show for us. We were wrong!

After being brought to an open door of the house and left by our village friend, I didn’t know what else to do but to look inside the door. What I found was shocking! There was a young man hanging from the ceiling. Now, I had an immediate decision to make. Did I believe God or not? Did I trust God or not?

Thankfully, I KNEW He didn’t bring me to this place to make me an emotional wreck. He brought me to this place to be His representative, His ambassador bringing peace and healing to a hurting world.

We found out that the landlord of the house we were staying in had also lost a son-in-law to suicide. The house was empty because they believed it was now filled with evil spirits. I held the hand of this sweet woman and prayed, through an interpreter, that God would heal their broken hearts…for the one who had taken his life that day and the one who had taken his life earlier. I prayed that they would come to know the peace that only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Healer of all.

As the interpreter prayed, I heard a sound which caused me to open my eyes. There was a small boy looking at me through the railing of the steps. I didn’t know him and when he saw me looking at him he ran away.

We finished praying and opened our eyes. This same little boy came running toward me, jumped through the railings of the steps into my lap, and threw his arms around my neck and gave me the biggest hug I have ever had. Although this was one of the hardest things I had ever gone through, it was an incredibly clear sign from God that I had done what He needed me to do. This little boy was God’s messenger to me. He didn’t know me. I had never seen him before. God sent him to say, “You did what I needed you to do. You lifted up My name and made it known that healing and peace come through Jesus Christ.”

I don’t know if my sweet friend ever came to trust in Jesus as her personal Savior. I do know that I still pray for her after 12 years. I hope I see her in heaven someday!

Sam urges us to:
1. Instill a value of being so connected to Him that it is carried wherever individuals go, allowing the Holy Spirit to show them how He wants to connect with a particular group of people to bring them to Himself.
2. Read “Hearing God” by Peter Lord
3. Be a learner of the culture you are walking. Let them teach you what they believe and allow God to show you how to engage them based on their worldview.
4. Field workers are not looking for authorities, but teachable spirits. Individuals who have the heart of God and want to see the people through His eyes.

*Sam is a pseudonym

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