When you’ve come to the realization that you are being called into the mission field, there many things for which you need to prepare. Regardless of where they are traveling to or what their actual ministry will entail, there are five skills every missionary needs.
Sharing Your Faith
Many soon-to-be missionaries don’t realize just how critical this it is to be able to share your faith with others. Remember, you will be in a foreign land, with cultures, norms, values, and beliefs that are very different from those you’ve probably encountered near your home.
In order to be effective, you must have acquired a solid understanding of your faith and be able to share it comfortably with anyone you meet. This can be especially challenging if you’re also using a second language
If you’ve ever tried to carry on a conversation with someone who doesn’t know your language, you can see how important language skills can be. While having a general knowledge of a language may at first appear to be sufficient, being able to comprehend many of the nuances of commonly used words is important.
Even if you’re going to a location that shares your native language, remember there are probably differences in dialect, word usage, slang, and other linguistic elements. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about the language of your future home.
Missionaries can find themselves in all types of difficult situations because they have misunderstood some cultural aspect of their mission setting. It takes more than just reading a book about culture of your new assignment. You need to develop the skill of paying close attention to everything that goes on around you.
While you may have mastered the language, there are many subtle things which you need to be tuned into. Body language and other nonverbal communications are very important and can’t be ignored. It would be helpful if you could meet some people who are from the land you are going to before you finish your training.
You’re going to find yourself in all types of situations. Something as simple as catching the bus between towns or villages can be a challenge. This is especially true if you find you’ve selected the wrong bus. If you have your own vehicle, you need to know how to service it and make basic repairs. There may not be a mechanic nearby for you to hire.
Surviving in the marketplace can also be a challenge, as you need to determine which common household items you should use and where to buy them. Your home will most likely be different and probably will contain none of the conveniences you are accustomed to having.
How easily you adjust to new situations is a skill you should develop early in your training. For instance, you may find yourself wearing clothing that is customary in your mission community but uncomfortable for you. The food will most certainly be different, and you must learn to eat things you would never have considered eating back in your home place. Many of these foods may not even be available in other places of the world. Being able to skillfully maneuver through these unusual situations will have a direct impact on your success on the mission field, especially in the beginning.
Being a missionary can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. If you are ill-prepared, however, you may find the challenges difficult to overcome. You need to be ready for anything, and these five skills every missionary needs listed will be essential to managing the challenges you encounter.