I spoke about a topic that has become more important to me each and every day:
Seven years ago, Lael and I went through Perspectives and were “ruined for the ordinary!” For the first time we heard about unreached people groups and the biblical basis for missions. We were determined to leverage our short time on earth for nothing less than this great commission to see every tribe, tongue and nation reached with the gospel. We were fired up and couldn’t wait to get out there and do “something!”
And that’s the problem. Our “something” was completely undefined. We had no idea what ministry among an unreached people group would look like. We knew we needed a plan. As George Walker, one of my favorite instructors saw, “We genuinely felt the weight of own not-enough-ness!”
The Needs You Don’t Know You Need To Know About…
That’s where New Tribes Mission came into the picture. We toured the Missionary Training Center and were blown away by how thorough the training was. Now we’ve gone through all four years of their training (two years of Bible school and two years of missionary training) and I can’t imagine what our overseas ministry would have looked like had we left straight for the field after college. There were so many issues we didn’t even know we needed to be thinking through.
Now we have a game plan for things like: acquiring a new culture and language, pushing through culture shock, creating an alphabet, developing a literacy program, setting up a medical clinic, running a house completely off of solar, implementing Bible translation techniques, creating chronological Bible lessons that aim at worldview level issues, understanding an animistic worldview, maintaining a healthy marriage in a stressful situation, protecting our children, taking a newborn church on toward maturity in Christ through strategic teaching, discipleship and outreach, preventing and addressing team conflict, tailoring a unique homeschool curriculum for our girls, avoiding syncretism, modeling discipleship from day one, preparing for emergency situations, leveraging various translation and linguistic software, adjusting to an event-oriented culture while maximizing time management, and counting the cost now. That’s just from the classroom side of things.
I can’t begin to describe all the valuable lessons I’ve learned from daily rubbing shoulders with staff and instructors who have been there and done it. God has used the discipleship process here in at the MTC to not only strengthen my walk with Himself, but I’ve also learned some incredibly important leadership principles.
If you’re planning to go long-term, get extensive pre-field training this side of the ocean.
One more thing. NTM has an incredible language, culture, and translation consultant program. When we’re out in the tribe trying to learn a difficult language and a strange culture, these consultants will come out regularly to help us get unstuck and reach the next level of proficiency. Doug Schaible likes to say that NTM’s consultants are like the wench on a Jeep. When you get stuck, they pull you out so you can get back on the road. I’m so glad that NTM has people in place who will be able to continue equipping us at each new leg of this long journey toward seeing a mature tribal church who is glorifying God.
Thanks again for joining us on this journey!