Well my friends, all good things must come to an end. To quote my homeboy Tolkien, “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” But alas, here we are at the end of two years after oceans and mountains, laughs and tears, and a whole lot of God doing some pretty neat things (usually in spite me me!).
To my friends, family, and supporters: thank you! This journey was incredible primarily because you were a part of it. Let’s keep this thing up!
To future Goers, I’m sorry. I can’t sum up everything I’d like to say to you in a succinct blog post. I’ll do my best, but if you’re ever in Texas let’s meet up then we can really hash this thing out. But, in the spirit of giving it the good ole college try, here goes:
Before You Go!
1) Invest – In people! Support raising isn’t a means to an end, in fact in many ways it’s the most important aspect of your ministry. Spend time getting to know, ministering to, and building authentic relationships with the people backing you. It makes a huge difference when you get to the field!
2) Learn – take advantage of any training your company offers, and if you have time get a head start on some of the basics of the language you’ll be learning. I hope you like learning, because you’ll be doing a lot of it the next two years.
3) Expectations – Write down what yours are. Bring them before your organization. Be open with them and communicate, they’ll hopefully gently guide you through them and it could save you a lot of headache in the future.
4) Leave – Finally, when it comes to leaving, fight to leave well. Even in the midst of chaotic families, people telling you your crazy, and everything else; leave in love and if possible, peace.
As You Go
1) Go Together – People advised me on this, but it didn’t quite click. If you can Go with someone, do it! Having a peer in the same boat as you on this journey will stretch you like crazy, but also be one of the best helps you can have! I’m blessed I eventually landed with another Goer.
2) Learn the Language – It won’t always be fun, but dive into it if you can. It’s one of the best things you can do in terms of your ministry and also equipping you with a future skill.
3) Pray – There’s power in it, I’ve finally really seen that after years of walking with Jesus. I can’t bundle it up in a nice theological box, but God works through prayer. Pray for your friends, teammates, the lost, your supporters, your family, yourself. God works in it and changes you in the process.
-Two years is a short time…two years is also a very long time.
-The rest of the world is terrible when it comes to Tex Mex.
-Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it will be easy. Sometimes it’s just straight hard, not fun, nor fulfilling. Press into Jesus.
-With that being said, let’s say it again: press into Jesus! God spent the first 6 months showing me just how little I had to bring to the table and how incapable I was. It was the hardest part, but in the end was the most necessary. Jesus said “He who abides in me bears much fruit.” I can look back on these 2 years now and see whatever fruit there was, was ALL because of Jesus!
-Teams/Organizations aren’t perfect. In fact, they’re full of fallen and broken people just like you! Communicate, fight for unity and love despite disagreements.
-Relationship – I met a missionary who had been on the field for 36 years when I got back to the states. He told me, “I’ve been through all the trainings and strategies they could throw at me (and those are good things!). But In the end, the only thing that made a difference was relationship. After all, that’s what our Lord used to come get us, why should we expect to rely anything different?”
Being a Goer was hard - the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t regret it. The suffering and hardship you’ll experience overseas for two years will allow you to see Jesus in a way you wouldn’t have had you stayed. If you’re hesitant about going, I’d say go for it! There won’t be a better time for it than right now.
Stay near Him, and Godspeed.