When I first emailed the volunteer coordinator for Doors I explained my heart and why I wanted to see what they were doing in Uganda. Ever since my freshman year trip to the Philippines, my heart has grown a passion for mission work but I wasn’t sure when or what the next step would be. That is why I ended up in India for two months, which didn’t answer any of my questions about long term mission work then left me with even more questions.
So I explained this and she said she was going to schedule me some one on one’s with other organizations and missionaries so that I can talk to them, ask questions and hear their stories.
I honestly had no idea what that would look like before getting there, I just trusted God was going to map out my trip just the way He wanted it to be.
So let me just say how amazing it was. I got the chance to talk with amazing people who chose to listen to God’s voice and follow Him over seas into crazy situations. Some were single, some married & some with kids. Different ages & different purposes but all for the same God.
This was hands down my favorite part about the entire trip & every person came to our meetings with something to share with me. So all I had to do was sit & listen & cry just a little because of their God Stories.
So here is their advice, all thrown into a list.
Advice to the one interested in long term mission work.
1. You are seeing this idealistically. Your time over seas will be hard. You will not change anyone’s lives, God can, but it will not be quick changes. It will require showing up, repetitively.
2. Fight fears with prayer. This is the only way to survive.
3. Balance relationships between expats & locals.
4. Do you want to be a “missionary” or a Christian open to what God wants you to do?
5. Read “When Helping Hurts”, this article & watch the documentary “Poverty, Inc”.
6. Before you leave, build your resume. Do mission training, become certified in something. Prepare in whatever way you can.
7. When overseas, set your rules & follow them. These rules are meant to be your constant way of keeping yourself safe. These should be built with the culture in mind and should serve to protect you (& your things).
8. You are not going to fix things. You are going to serve.
9. Sometimes a bandaid is all you can do.
10. Have community. Have community at home to remind you why you left. Build community where God places you. This is going to be hard and you won’t make it without this.