I enjoy meeting missionaries that are serving long-term in other countries. I love hearing stories about the challenges and rewards of crossing cultures to share Jesus and hearing them tell about how they were called to go on the mission field long term. The stories they tell are varied, unique and often entertaining.
Similar to a business owner having an elevator pitch I have three questions I ask missionaries when I meet them. Here are my three questions:
1. Why [location they are living]?
Why Guatemala? Why Tanzania? Why the Middle East? Out of the whole wide world what was it about this place that caused them to devote their service there. Sometimes there is a family connection, or a past short-term trip that turned long-term. But, there’s always a back story that has interesting twists and turns to arrive at the present day.
2. What do you do day to day?
Most long-term missionaries I’ve met are go-getters so they have a lot of things they are involved with. It may be local sports clubs, discipleship, small business ventures, or even agriculture. I remember hearing from a guy who lives with his family in the center of Africa and how he teaches pastors to take old wine bottles and craft them into centerpieces that are then purchased by local hotels. This small enterprise provides income for them to continue their pastoral training. What a cool idea!
Most places around the world are used to Americans dropping in so locals aren’t phased by visitors. Getting connected, being effective and building trust takes work and intentionality.
3. Who have you connected with?
The entire reason for going is to connect with people. It’s fascinating to hear stories of God appointments and random meetings. Some missionaries connect with high ranking government officials, while others connect with homeless orphans. Some missionary friends lived in Mexico among a very small people group who had their own language. Other friends lived in Spain and connected with British expats.
The next time your church has a “Meet the Missionary” event don’t miss it! Go and hear what God is doing in other parts of the world and ask a few questions. You’ll be glad you did!