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The Life Preparation of the Missionary
If a missionary could, they would tell you that it takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and funds to prepare for life on a foreign field. In my life, I can see where God began preparing me when I was a child. My family traveled a lot. I have been in 14 different countries, most of them third world countries. I grew up in Panama Canal Zone where things were very poor. My dad had the philosophy, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Therefore, he made me learn how to speak Spanish. They had open air markets in the republic, and my mom would go there to buy fresh seafood. We spent much of our time outside of the Zone and learned about the different culture. My parents were adventurous about that. Little did I know it at the time, but God was already preparing me to be a missionary.
I didn’t go to Bible college until later in life. It took me 5 years to complete a 4 year program. This is because I worked for the government while at the same time attending school. The government sent me on many working trips all over the country. I made 32 trips for the government. When I was at home, my pastor put me in charge of the Jr. Church. I didn’t know it at the time, but this practical training was preparing me for traveling and preaching. It was preparing me to get ready for the field. So, there is the element that God begins preparing a person for what He is going to call him to do, early in life. But this is not all.
When we were called to the mission field. We were faced with a ton of work, just to tie up loose ends here in America to be able to leave. There were jobs to quit, accounts to be settled, house and cars to be sold, personal possessions to be liquidated or stored. This says nothing about school curriculums to be bought, shots to be gotten health exams to be taken passports and visas to be applied for, and much more. It is a life investment into the field that you are going to. If a missionary could, he would tell you of these things because he values the investment he is making into God’s calling, but he can’t without being misunderstood. It is not like taking a trip to some foreign land. It feels more like burning your bridges so that there is no way back to your old life. Not by design, but by necessity. The missionary is not only moving to a new life, but he is leaving an old life behind, and this is difficult for him to explain.