Building a Missions Mindset: Are You Ready for the Field? (Part 1)

April 15, 2013

Becoming a missionary requires practical resources like time, money, and a means to travel. But becoming a successful missionary requires something equally important: a proper mindset. Without the right mindset, preparation, and heart approach to missions, burnout and discouragement are too often unavoidable. There are several critical questions to ask when preparing for the mission field. Here are the first three:

1.    What is your view of money? When it comes to finances, what is the focus of your life right now? Is money a means to accomplish your God-given purpose, or an end in itself? Here’s the good news: God is in control of your finances. As Hudson Taylor wrote, “God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.” Yet missions requires complete surrender of everything – including your money. Put another way, are you defined by what you own, or by what you are doing for God? (and that could mean being a successful businessman to the glory of God) Are the choices you are making today consistent with the frugal lifestyle and dependence on God that missions will demand? Whether you are a young person thinking about future missions, or a successful entrepreneur following God’s call, these are critical questions to ask yourself before you get to the field.

2.   Where do you find security and safety? Simply put, missions work is often dangerous. Not only because of kidnappings and persecutions and hateful language and wild animals. These are present and real dangers. But spiritual dangers are equally real. Satan hates those who take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. As the Apostle Paul warns, we do not war against flesh and blood, but against principalities and the powers of darkness. Ask a veteran missionary about spiritual struggles, and you will hear stories of depression, heartache, self-doubts, temptations, and a thousand dark, lonely moments when it felt like everything was unraveling despite years of effort. This is a real danger, and a danger that brings many missionaries home from the field in despair.

So where do you find security and safety? In Christ alone. And how do you prepare for the physical and spiritual dangers of the mission field? By surrendering everything – even your “right” to be safe – to Christ, and taking Him at His Word. He has promised, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day . . . a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee” (Psalm 91). In order to be successful on the mission field, you must give your fears to God, and trust Him wholly for safety. Indeed, there is a difference between safety and security; when you trust God with your life and the lives of your family members, you may not be “safe”, but you will be secure. When we find our security in Christ, trusting His promises, we are free to follow Him wherever He calls, without the fears and stresses that so often allow Satan to cripple the lives and work of missionaries on the field.

3.   What are your priorities? In other words, are your decisions today preparing you for the life you plan to live on the field? This is a practical consideration, but an issue of great importance when preparing for missions. Put another way, how do you spend your time? For instance, if you spend much of your free time surfing the internet or chatting with friends on Facebook, how will this change when you become a “missionary”? If you have a hard time fitting in daily spiritual disciplines – prayer, study of God’s Word, Scripture memorization – how are you preparing yourself for spiritual strength and success on the field? Your life will not change dramatically once you leave for a different country. That is why it is so critical to develop spiritual habits now, and to align your priorities with the work that God has for you now. If you live each moment purposefully for the Kingdom of God – whether you are washing dishes, studying for an exam, working in the office, or playing with your siblings – you will prepare yourself well to do the same thing one day as a missionary.

These are some of the most critical questions to ask yourself – and to answer honestly – when planning and preparing to follow God’s call into missions work. There are several other issues that are equally important in developing the right mindset and attitude towards missions, which we’ll consider in another post.

Ultimately, the best preparation for missions is not to make plans for a future life of service and sacrifice, but to start living the “missional” life now. If you envision giving up your life for God in a far country, start by giving up your hopes, priorities, and plans of today. Ultimately, successful missions is not a task or a destination, but a lifestyle – a heart attitude and mindset of self-sacrifice to God, to be used as He directs, for His glory. The story is often told of James Calvert, who journeyed as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands. When in sight of the islands, the captain of the ship tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages!” To which Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.

The biggest hindrance to the missionary task is self. Self that refuses to die. Self that refuses to sacrifice. Self that refuses to give. Self that refuses to go.– Thomas Hale, missionary to Nepal

Nebraska

April 11, 2013

The rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains is behind us as we press on Eastward, making miles on roads that are finally clear of snow and ice. Our last night in Central City was wild; we woke up to howling winds rocking the trailer and loud crashing as the wind tore loose ice and snow from the roof of the RV. On a positive note, the temperature (in the teens) was a reprieve from the night before, when the thermometer registered -4 Fahrenheit!

This morning we headed down the pass, grateful for safety and clear roads. After many hours of rolling hills still showing the recent snowfall, we are now in Nebraska, on our way to northern Indiana. God has been very good; there are no mechanical issues with the trailer, and the vehicle’s transmission has been behaving well, with no further issues in shifting to second or first gear (there were several concerning episodes up in Central City).

The next few days will be full as we make up for time lost during the storm. Thank-you for your teamwork and prayers with us for God’s protection and guidance, and pray with us for safety and warm weather as we continue East.
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Snowbound

April 9, 2013

We’re camped in the Rocky Mountains just west of Denver at 9,000 feet, where snow has been falling heavily for hours. The guys were up at 6:00, trying to thaw frozen trailer pipes in single-digit temperatures, and our prayers were answered at last as the trailer pump rumbled to life and water trickled out of the faucet. With the loan of a portable heater from the thoughtful campground managers, the trailer is up to 65 degrees (it was in the low 50s this morning), and we can enjoy the beauty of the snowy wilderness surrounding us from our snug trailer.

Thank-you all for your prayers for our family — for safety and warmth, and for strength and perseverance in Kingdom work. We were scheduled to hit the road northeast early this morning for more ministry stops, but probably won’t be able to drive on the roads until Thursday. Please pray for God’s guidance as we reschedule the coming week and continue working via phone and email during this down time.

Snowy Trailer

Back in California

March 6, 2013

We are once again back in California, where the green hills and familiar valley roads remind us of how much we appreciate this state where we grew up and prepared to leave for the mission field 10 years ago.

Todd is hard at work in an intensive stint of ministry and counseling. His enthusiasm over the past several months has been contagious as he has focused his time on his primary calling: drawing men and leaders to whole-hearted love and obedience to Christ in the context of the church and family. This time in California will be no different. The work is challenging spiritually and emotionally at times — Todd has multiple meetings scheduled each day, and is often up late at night writing and calling those whom God has put in His path (despite full days of work in CA, his long-distance ministry continues). Thank-you very much for your continued support and prayers for strength, wisdom, and discretion in this vital work for God’s Kingdom.

On a different note, Austin and Isaac are rejoicing to have the California Bar Exam behind them, and are awaiting results (they will receive results in mid-May). Thank-you so much for praying the guys through this test!

 

Peach Blossoms

 

Prayer Letter

August 16, 2012

The following is a letter our oldest son wrote in his quest for a committed prayer team and in his search for caring benefactors.
Essentially, he is finding out that it “takes a village” of support to obtain the medical skills he’ll need for rural village work.  This isn’t a one-man mountain – you can’t conquer Everest without sponsors and Sherpas. And while this is not an arm of the Field and Hearth Project, we are including this letter here with the prayer that God will touch the hearts of likeminded people who share Curtis’ vision for spreading the gospel to the underserved through medical missions.

Dear Friends,
I am writing to share a need for which I would really value your prayer. As many of you know, I am pursuing medical training with a vision and call to long-term medical missions as a surgeon. I am three weeks away from submitting my application to medical school, and have one more hurdle to overcome before I can do so: finances. I have paid for all of my pre-med studies so far, in part via distance legal work and in part with an investment loan from a godly mentor. I need the final $7000 by the last week of August in order to be competitive in the 2012-2013 application process.

If you would like to help defray the significant costs in undertaking this huge endeavor, I would love to have you onboard as a partner. I am a disciplined student and a devoted follower of Christ, heading out on a long journey; to the best of my knowledge, these are uncharted waters (going from home education through distance undergraduate premed studies to medical school).

I would really appreciate your prayers, not only for the finances I need by the end of August, but for wisdom as I complete medical application narratives and medical research requirements, for strength to keep my eyes fixed on Christ in the face of this daunting financial challenge, and for ample legal work ahead as I await entrance into school. I firmly believe that God has called me to this path, and I believe that in His timing, I will become a missionary doctor to be used by Him.

Thank-you for your many words of support and encouragement thus far. Please let me know if you would like to receive my monthly newsletter.

In His grip,
Curtis

Support information: if you would like to help financially, please use the donation button on this page or write to us for our snail mail address.

Writing Trouble in Oklahoma City

August 7, 2012

We arrived here yesterday. This morning, I am sitting in a coffee shop writing the missions newsletter…major writer’s block has enveloped my mind.

Prayer for Field Workers who Love the Quebecois

June 12, 2012

Psalm 121
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help; my help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth…He that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Late in the night I read this psalm and am comforted. It is my go-to psalm when I need reminding that the mission work that we do is His, and as we yield, becoming willing hands and feet and hearts on earth to do His bidding, He works through us to accomplish His will. I do not need to work manically; I do not need to fret or stew over the lost, over the enormity of the task of sowing and harvesting vast fields. It is He who is Sovereign. It is He who will not sleep, and who will keep us.

I am filled with peace at the thought of God’s watch over us. Our recent trips to hospital in the middle of the night were under His watch. He guided doctors and nurses. He calmed my heart. He gave grace. He alone has the power to heal. And in those wee hours of the morning, He gave us an awareness of the stillness of His presence.

Our house-on-wheels is full of busy students during the day, and busy emailers as their Papa is in Quebec City and neighbourhoods for the week. We, along with you, are his prayer support team.

Above all else, I hope that our home is a House of Prayer.

What does this look like in your home?

Out of the Snow, Into the Icebox

February 22, 2012

Thought you might enjoy a few news articles, pictures, and videos of our recent ice storm. What wonderful memories we made, playing games by candlelight, reading aloud by the fireplace, and helping and being helped by kind neighbours.

http://www.canada.com/Hydro+Quebec+slowly+restoring+power+Magdalen+Islands/6150913/story.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/02/13/magdalen-island-power.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/02/14/pei-magdalen-ice-storm-584.html?cmp=rss

Mail Situation

February 8, 2012

The mail that was hung up in Canada Customs is still somewhere in Nova Scotia (we believe that it is in Sydney – an official told us that they found the latest box that came across the border, but the box was broken and its contents could not be found anywhere)…no mail has come since our last post here, which means that we have had no mail arrive from the United States since early January.

We believe in a Sovereign God who rules over when our mail arrives. We rest in His wisdom. Curtis is unable to get started on pre-med Biology until the textbook arrives; this could delay his entry into medical school. God knows this too.

Mail-sent financial provision has also not arrived. Again, God knows. What tremendous comfort there is in resting on Him.

We appreciate your prayers more than ever.

Request for Prayer

January 20, 2012

As a few of you know, we are anxiously awaiting mail that has been held up at the border for Customs Clearance. Curtis urgently needs the Chemistry/Biology curriculum and Science labs that are in those boxes from the University of New England. Each passing day without syllabi/textbooks means that he will have a day fewer to complete his assignments. He has a February 27th deadline for the two remaining courses; if he works six days a week once these courses arrive, he will have very few days to complete a semester’s worth of Chemistry and Biology.

Curtis is also waiting for news on the status of his application to medical school. This is a faith-stretching month for him, and he/and we are firm believers in both the sovereignty of God and the ability of God to work miracles. Please join us in prayer.


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