When coaching missionaries, clarity and direction are critical outcomes that so much else depends on.
Suzie (not her real name) was so excited as God brought in the funds from unexpected sources for her first ever short term mission trip. She could hardly believe she was really going, but couldn’t wait. Though the plane ride was long, being a part of the group made her feel connected to something larger than herself.
When the team arrived on the field they worked together in unity, sweating together. Seeing the results of their group effort was invigorating. Suzie was infatuated with the newness of everything. The smiles of the children captivated her heart. The intensive ministry schedule made her identify with the apostles who gave their lives to follow Jesus.
But the flight home seemed long and Suzie was exhausted. As she tried to fit back into her world, she felt lonely. When she shared her great experiences, even her best friends and family listened for only a few minutes and then their eyes “glazed over”. She felt wounded by what seemed a lack of interest. Back at church her mind raced with less than pleasant thoughts. How dare they spend so much money on printing bulletins when those people sat on the dirt floor for their worship services.
Short term mission trips are awesome for getting us out of our comfort zone, exposing us to new cultures and customs, and showing us a bigger picture of our God and His work. But sometimes short term missionaries come home depressed and disconcerted. How do they process all the new insights and experiences? Sometimes short term missionaries return home confused, wrestling with the question, “Is God calling me to be a full-time missionary?”
As a missions coach, I love to come alongside a returning short term missionary and provide a safe place to debrief, process, learn and grow. After all, what constitutes a “call”? One thing is for sure — a need does not constitute a call. Because there are needs everywhere. If Suzie thinks God might be “calling” her to return as a full time cross-cultural worker, how does God confirm a “call”?
My own experience as a missionary helps me to listen intently and ask questions to help Suzie clarify what she learned on her trip. We can explore her personal motivation for serving in missions work. What Bible verses is God bringing to mind as Suzie dialogs with God about this?
Once there is clarity on the call we look for the next steps of her development plan. What do missionaries need beside a clear calling? Courage. Perseverance. What else? Some good questions to consider are, “Who do I need to be, or what do I need to do to continue to grow personally?” “Who do I need to go with?” Looking for a compatible missionary sending agency can be time consuming. “What do I need to know?” Do I need more Bible training? Formally or informally? “What support will I need?” “Who will be my ‘senders?” “How do I develop a care team?”
Short term missionaries can go from being depressed and confused to clear, courageous and growing. A missions coach can help. Who knows the eternal impact of that?
Founder and CEO
Advance Global Coaching
Sherri is a member of Christian Coaches Network