What World Travelers Should Know Before They Go: Part 2

Skills Not Taught in Bible School

Also see part 1, What World Travelers Should Know Before They Go.

A while ago we published an article about some of the practical skills would-be missionaries and other travelers would do well to learn or brush up on before they get on the plane—all, it happens, things those of us on the sending side might be able to help with.

I suggested learning to cook from scratch, operate a motorbike, and do basic repairs. I threw in a few more ideas and categories to prime the pump, then asked you for feedback. Here are a few great suggestions that came from reader submissions. Thanks, everyone!

1. Do site-specific research.

Tina from One Mission Society recommends doing lots of research about where you’re going before you get there. Make it as site-specific and current as you can. “I once told an about-to-arrive coworker that we could readily get pork even in a Muslim-dominated country,” she remembers. “True in the city where I was at the time with a fair Chinese population. But in the city where they were going, the Chinese population was much smaller and that was not true. Oops!”

You (or the missionary candidate on your mind) may survive without ham and bacon. Other things you may really need, or need to know about. It’s good to ask lots of questions, then hold the answers with an open hand since opinions may vary or conditions change. The would-be worker would be wise to make an in-person visit (what my organization calls “a survey trip”) to see the place for themselves rather than relying on a barrage of emails, calls, or texts to tell them what they’re getting into.

2. Grow in navigational know-how.

Been lost in as many cities as I have? A few skills can help you get where you are going. Neal Pirolo of Emmaus Road International writes, “Know directions: North, South, East, West… without a compass. Know how to read maps. Know how to find places without a map by using landmarks and following people’s instructions.”

Neal says his wife has trouble with this, yet she’s led more than 50 ministry trips and God has always provided someone who has the knack. Praise God for partnership. None of us can do it all.

But it’s worth learning to get around before you go. “I once worked with a young intern on our field who didn’t know how to read a map,” says a reader named Rachael. “Even though she was just coming for three months, it was really difficult to let her go out on her own—we weren’t sure she’d make it back home!”

Note that these days, the same tools we may rely on to get around in our home countries—like navigational and ride-share apps on our phones—may work or have equivalents in our host countries, too, provided we have our phones charged and handy. And especially when we have some language under our belts. And speaking of that…

3. Get a kickstart on language and culture learning.

Learning a language and culture may be a lifelong pursuit, but it’s worth getting a jump on before you go, as several readers point out. This is true whether you’re there to stay or just passing through.

“Study a bit and learn the culture, at least enough not to insult your new friends, and to learn a few phrases in their language like please, thank you, etc. People love it when you at least try to say something in their language and they will more than likely teach you more if you ask,” writes a reader named Rebecca.

Alan, who has worked with Wycliffe for years, encourages a first-timer to take advantage of today’s language-learning apps to do some basic learning in the major language of the region or country. While local dialects often vary, starting with a language app will help them start getting their ears attuned to the new language.

Alan also points out an essential skill to learn a little later. “Once in a language learning setting, I encourage the person learning to pray out loud in the language as early as possible, so that as they grow in learning the language in different contexts, their ability to do something as basic as praying (which we learned to do in English early on as children) grows along with language skill. I had colleagues who had spent the better part of a year learning French (on the way to French-speaking Africa) who had yet to pray out loud in French, and so they were hampered in their ability in the language in this area of faith.”

4. Learn to be a language learner.

And speaking of language… Rachael works for the Institute of Cross-Cultural Training at Wheaton College. “One of our biggest services is in teaching people to be language learners,” she says. This kind of training can be very helpful, even for those expecting to learn a “major” language for which there may be lots of language-learning resources. She explains:

“Many people think they know how to learn a language (because they took Spanish in high school, even though they didn’t learn too much) or that language school will just automatically teach them everything (though this isn’t true). We help learners become self-directed and know how to fill in the gaps left by a language school, tutors, or various methods to become effective, efficient, long-term learners. I think this is essential for anyone needing to learn a language!”

Pre-field language (or language and culture) acquisition programs vary in cost, duration, and depth. Schools and mission agencies may provide training or referrals. In the U.S., check out Mission Training International the Center for Intercultural Training, and TRAIN International for several good options. You can also find helpful online resources from Global Trellis and Grow2Serve.

5. Deal with debt and learn to live on less.

A reader named Barb who served in Nepal brings up several key points related to the management of money. It is helpful to be mature in this area before launching into another culture. And, like many other skills on our list, these skills may serve you well at home or abroad.

The first skill she mentions is living on less than you make, which requires learning to budget and stay debt-free. “Practice before you go,” she urges. “Debt is often a reason why willing workers are delayed in getting into areas to serve—saving for a rainy day is a lost skill in our culture. The Lord has scriptural wisdom for us on this topic.”

“Support from home often decreases over time, or inflation and access to products shipped from the West may become more expensive,” Barb points out. “Learning to adapt to the local culture often requires living on the products, foods, clothing, and daily rhythms of your national neighbors. Though there may be Western stores, they are usually more expensive and beyond the reach of your neighbors. Learn to eat what is available.”

If you manage your money well, you will be ready to give to others—something missionaries may have many opportunities to practice. Barb remembers how her national friends in Nepal with shared meals and welcomed her family to their celebrations. “We need to learn from their example,” she says. Right on, Barb. We who benefit so much from the generosity of others should also be good givers and generous with our neighbors.

6. Don’t go without a team of partners.

Finally, as Neal points out, nobody should go out as a mission worker without an active partnership team, a group of people as committed to the cause as they are and ready to send them well. Emmaus Road has many resources to help with this. If you serve in such a role, good for you. I hope you do such a good job every missionary wants such a sending team. May the Lord bless you and make you a blessing to the nations.

Header photo by Tommaso Pecchioli on Unsplash.

Question: What (Else) Should Missionaries and Other Globetrotters Know Before They Go?

A huge thanks to all who read and responded to our article about pre-field practical training. Want to see your tips or stories make the sequel? Skim the first article, then respond to this email or shoot me a line. Thanks!

What World Travelers Should Know Before They Go

Skills Not Taught in Bible School

By Marti Wade

G.K. Chesterton was famously asked what book he’d want with him if stranded on a deserted island. Everyone may have expected the outspoken Christian to say, “The Bible,” but he answered, “Thomas’ Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”

Maybe you’ve experienced this tension: a head and heart full of Bible knowledge to sustain you, a story to tell to the nations (and a strategy for doing it), but a sad lack of practical skills you didn’t know you’d need when God led you to serve in a culture far from home. Knowing your way around a spreadsheet, a Greek lexicon, or the New York subway system may not so quickly apply in your journey to the nations.

Or on the other hand, you may have discovered that what you learned growing up on the farm, from your scout leader or grandparent, or in that shop or home economics class has served you well.

So how does one get those practical skills?

The days of “jungle camp” and other in-depth, hands-on pre-field training experiences may have passed for many. But a lot of young missionaries get a taste of what they’re in for on a short-term (or medium-length) mission trip. They may also be able to count on a solid orientation when they arrive on the field, and/or a mentor to walk with them as questions and conundrums arise.

A local friend or host family may be a big help. They know the ropes and can take care of the newcomer. They will also soon see that the rookie doesn’t know how to use the stove or the toilet, greet people, or flag down a taxi.

Can We Help?

What does this sad gap in daily life skills mean for us as mission mobilizers? As we seek to inspire and equip Christians for God’s global purposes, what practical skills may they already have that we can affirm? What experiences can we encourage them to seek out now to be better prepared for months and years to come?

Three Things People Need to Know

Here are three items on my list. Can you help me flesh out the list with added items or your own hard-won experience? I’ll include your input in What World Travelers Should Know Before They Go, Part 2.

1. How to Feed Themselves

Those who starve do not get far. A season in Central Asia helped me learn my way around a tea service, how to handle bread (which is considered sacred), and methods for eating gracefully with my right hand rather than utensils. Stick around very long, though, and you need to know more.

The best way to learn to make the “national dish,” whatever it may be, is from a local. In some places, hiring a cook (or an all-around house helper who can cook) makes perfect sense. But someone who only knows how to microwave processed foods with instructions in English on the box might wish they’d learned to make meals from scratch before leaving home.

Action Step: Mobilizer, take that would-be missionary under your wing. Get them a copy of More With Less or The Expat Cookbook. Give them some assignments or invite them over to make some dishes together. If possible, send them off knowing how to cook a few things that remind them of home using local ingredients.

Next up…

2. How to Get Around

It’s not wise to drive in another country without enough language and cultural fluency to navigate a traffic stop or accident. And many a mission worker never feels up to the many challenges of driving a car in another land. Fair enough. Using public transportation offers its own hurdles but is a good place to start.

And what about a motorbike? A Pew study from a few years back claimed 87% of households in Thailand have at least one scooter or motorcycle, followed by 85% in Vietnam, 85% in Indonesia, and 83% in Malaysia. (See Countries with Highest Motorbike Usage.) Interesting, huh?

The recent book Global Christianity points out that there are 10,000 missionaries in those four countries! I bet a lot of them have stories about their moped mishaps. They could probably sit around the campfire for a long time telling those tales and talking about how glad they are they survived so long.

Action Step: Got a friend heading somewhere motorbikes rule the road? Help them get off to a safer start. A friend told me she took a two-day motorcycle endorsement course before she left the U.S. to serve in Southeast Asia. “My parents were the ones who thought of it and paid for me to take the class before I went,” she says. “Best going-away present they could have given me!”

And that leads to…

3. How to Do Basic Repairs

“I know someone who met Don Richardson many years ago,” adds my friend. “He was in awe of this missionary giant and asked him what he wished he’d known before going to the field, expecting something brilliant and deep about missiology or the character of God. Don’s answer was, ‘I wish I had learned to repair small engines!’”

While many modern life skills may be less relevant in some contexts, a basic ability to use tools and make repairs comes in handy worldwide. Basic plumbing and electrical know-how may also be essential in places where people still fix things rather than throwing them out.

This is not my strong suit. Any mechanical skills I had in the decades I was single have gotten rusty since I married a man who knows what he’s doing. But you may be different. You may know things, things you can teach your mission-minded pal who may not have grown up with such knowledge. Give it some thought.

Action Step: Why not encourage your friend going into missions to contact folks in the field and ask what would be helpful to learn before they go? Maybe they could head to a local college that offers community classes. Or you could design a course together using free YouTube videos, online articles, or _______ for Dummies books.

What Else Does a World Traveler Need to Know?

I raised the question on Facebook. A savvy colleague jumped in to add the following:

“Cutting hair, driving a manual transmission car, speaking softly, packing efficiently, how to avoid getting pick-pocketed and other basic personal security tips, journaling, basic first aid, staying nutritionally healthy, basic internet security.”

Wow. I am pretty sure he could have continued for quite a while in that vein. What would you add? My two bits: how to build a fire that won’t go out and how to hand wash and mend clothing—skills I’ve seen short-termers struggle with.


The point is not to become omnicompetent so you never embarrass yourself, depend on others, or experience frustration in another culture. That’s not even possible. Nor should we encourage people to set their sights on avoiding all inconveniences or living just like they did in their home country. The fact is that every expatriate will have to adapt, shelving old skills for a season and dusting off or developing new ones.

The point is this: Let’s not send people to the field handicapped by a lack of practical skills “everyone knows” in the place they go, skills they may currently lack but could get a head start on before leaving home.

On a final note, this may also be a sneaky way to involve more people in your mission mobilization efforts. Tap folks in your church or community who may not realize they have something to give on the mission front. Teaching a missionary to bake bread, ride a motorcycle, or change a tire could be just as valuable as getting themselves a passport or writing a check to a mission agency.

Got a story from your own experience or a word of wisdom for those mobilizing and mentoring tomorrow’s missionaries? Send it my way, and we’ll fold it into Part 2.

Practical Mobilization: 7 Ways to Change the World in 2023

…And a roundup of resources to help.

Read or share the email edition of this article.

1. Surrender yourself to God.

This first one is not new but it may help make way for a new you for God to use as he pleases. This a covenant prayer from the Wesleyan tradition. And evidently, it’s often been used as a way to realign one’s heart at the start of a new year:

“I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you, praised for you or criticized for you. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service. And now, O wonderful and holy God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, you are mine, and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, Let it also be made in heaven. Amen.”

Download graphics or watch a music video.

2. Get to know the global Church.

Each year, Gina Zurlo, Todd Johnson, and their colleagues at Gordon-Conwell’s Center for Global Christianity in Boston publish a snapshot of global Christianity in its historical context (1900-2050). If you want to know where we are, statistically, in 2023, this is a good place to look.

What makes it into the one-page document continues to evolve, but it includes mid-2023 projects for the global population, cities, world religion, the distribution of Christians by continent and tradition, Christian missions, Bibles, Christian finance, and the status of world evangelization. Note that their source, the World Christian Database, uses a wide definition of what it means to be Christian. Some other sources take a different approach to this and a few other categories.

Download the Status of Global Christianity 2023. It just came out. Savvy mobilizers and mission advocates who want to avoid trotting out old or inaccurate data should take a look. It may change how you think about the global Church.

3. Dig a little deeper.

There’s plenty to chew on in the Status of Global Christianity document, but you may have questions. Read the related article from the International Bulletin of Mission Research, which this year also looks at data from something called The Women in World Christianity Project. Since few religious bodies track gender info, it’s a formidable task. But they calculate that global church membership is at least 52% female, and considerably higher in some groups. For example, 63% of all church members in Mongolia are women. What might that mean for our mobilization efforts and global partnerships?

See one writer’s takeaway from last year’s Status of Global Christianity report in 7 Encouraging Trends of Global Christianity in 2022 (Lifeway Research). That’ll preach! You might also stop and peruse Lifeway’s Fast Facts data roundup, mostly about Christianity in the U.S. See something there that could inform your ministry focus?

4. Do you do data? Gather with others who do.

If mission data is your jam, you are a select tribe. Don’t go it alone. Consider attending the second annual Mission Information Workers conference. It’s all online, several hours a day April 17-20. They’ll be looking at mission data standards, training, data gaps, ways to better share information, and more. The conference is sponsored by the Community of Mission Information Workers, Lausanne Research and Strategic Information Network, and Harvest Information Standards. I heard about it from Joshua Project.

5. Pray for these 12 countries.

Zoom back out; this one’s for everyone. What do we do with what we know? Take it to heart. Let it change us. And turn it into prayer. Here’s a good example.

“Nearly 75% of the world’s unreached people (3.6 billion) live in 12 countries,” says Jesus Film Project. “We invite you to join us as we engage in strategic focused prayer for those 12 countries. Each month we’ll introduce one of these countries and share prayer requests to address its specific needs.

“You can join us by downloading a prayer guide or exploring our family prayer resources. Throughout January, we are praying for Indonesia.”

Learn more and download what you can use. The materials look great and are fairly organization-neutral so you may be able to share them in many contexts. I like their prayer card with the QR code; we’re using something like that with our prayer team for Pioneers. Maybe your church or ministry team could do the same.

By the way, the 12 countries (alphabetically) are Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.

What do you say; can we pray for these places?

6. Prayerwalk your neighborhood.

You may remember the saying: Think globally. Act locally. But we can pray locally, too. Navigators has a new ebook to download called Praying Through Your Neighborhood. It includes a 30-day prayer guide with scriptures, ideas for how to turn your stroll around the block into an opportunity to pray, and a prayer map you can use to keep track of how you’re praying (and who you pray for and with).

It’s free but you’ll have to give the Navs your email address to get it. That could be worth it: they put out a lot of helpful content about sharing the gospel, making disciples, and spiritual growth.

7. Let your light shine.

Maybe God is starting to show you he’s put you and your family where you are for a reason. If that’s true, what does it mean for how you engage your community? Read Your Home: A Lighthouse (Rob Rienow, for Weave).

Seeing yourself as a light in the darkness may be daunting, but as the article says, “A lighthouse can still shine even with cracks and missing bricks. Our families are no different. We can still shine for Christ even though we are struggling with conflicts, anxiety, and discouragement. Talk and pray as a family about how God can use your home to be a light in this world of darkness.”

Making Thanksgiving Count for the Kingdom | Practical Mobilization

In this edition:

  1. Thankful Habits: 30 Thankful Prayers
  2. Get in on a Great Giving Tuesday Giveaway
  3. From the Archives: Making Thanksgiving Count for the Kingdom

Read or share the email edition, or scroll on for more.

Dear friends,

Ever feel like you don’t have enough? Enough time, enough money, enough energy for all you want to do or think others expect from you? It can be so overwhelming. If you’re like me, you might easily fall into a mindset of scarcity, focusing on losses, limitations, and all that you may lack.

A recent sermon reminded me of God’s abundance. He always has more than enough, more than we will ever need. And scripture suggests that when God throws the party there are going to be leftovers, too—an overflow of provision (see 2 Kings 4:42-44, Psalm 23:5 John 7:37-38, John 10:10, and John 15:5).

Let’s live in light of that abundance, full of gratitude and hope for the days to come, and ready to invite others to the table.

This edition includes several tools and ideas that may help.

Marti Wade

Thankful Habits: 30 Thankful Prayers

Source: Navigators

Could you use some help turning your heart toward gratitude?

“At the beginning of your day or at the end of your day, start the habit of thanking God for your blessings and praying these verses out loud. Invite a friend or your family to join you for 30 days of thankful prayers.”

Read 30 Thankful Prayers and download a PDF that includes both the prayers and the scriptures. It’s a simple tool. Who could you share it with?

You might also be interested in a 30-day Biblical Basis for Missions reading plan from the Center for Mission Mobilization. Too daunting? The same document includes a seven-day plan.

Get in on a Great Giving Tuesday Giveaway

Source: Pioneers-USA

Our October 26 edition of Missions Catalyst included a review of Steve Richardson’s new book, Is the Commission Still Great? It explores eight perceptions of missions and missionaries that discourage many Christians from embracing and engaging with God’s global purposes.

Leading up to November 29, also known as Giving Tuesday, Pioneers is giving it away for free. Get a copy for yourself or a friend.

See also 12 Great Gifts for Great Commission Lovers, all currently on sale from William Carey Publishing.

Making Thanksgiving Count for the Kingdom

From the Archives

By Shane Bennett

Here in the US, our most American holiday is right around the corner. Thanksgiving presents a chance not only to re-calibrate our own gratitude meter but also to reach out to people we’ve considered connecting with but haven’t been able to trip the trigger.

Thanksgiving is innocuous, non-partisan, and safe. Even the most mild-mannered can break the social ice with, “What are we thankful for?” The more intrepid can follow up, “Who are we thankful to?” It’s a ready-made opportunity to get more comfortable talking about God. And should a sermon threaten to break out, there’s football, board games, and more pie.

If this idea is intriguing but intimidating, check out my super-short Five-Step Plan for a Killer International Thanksgiving Dinner. This will get you going in the right direction. Fill in the details by ransacking this beautiful and ridiculously helpful site with ideas for cross-cultural hospitality, The Serviette. These guys give the body of Christ a wonderful gift. Enjoy it.

Also from our archives, see Five Reasons to Go Big on Gratefulness.

How to Inspire God’s People for Their Global Destiny

Part 3: Inspire the Heart

Bevin Ginder, GlobalCAST Resources

This article is the second in a three-part series looking at core principles of mission mobilization: ways to inspire God’s people for their global destiny.

Part 1 reminded us that people around us pick up on our passions and watch our lives rather than just listening to what we say.

Part 2 pointed out the importance of explaining the biblical basis for missions and the remaining task and engaging people through stories.

Now let’s look at inspiring the heart.

Inspiring the Heart: What Does It Take?

When it comes to inspiring ourselves and inspiring minds, we see there are things we can do. But what about inspiring people’s hearts? Brothers and sisters, we need to recognize that this is God’s territory. He is the one who created the heart and who understands the heart even when we don’t understand our own. And he is also the one who can change the heart.

And when it comes to missions, people often need a change of heart.

Christians Need a Conversion to Missions

A man named A.T. Pearson said, “Christians need conversion to missions as much as a sinner needs conversion to Christ.” A bit shocking. What do you think? What is he trying to say here? One thing we already know about conversion to Christ is that the Holy Spirit does it. We don’t save people! We can sow the seeds, but Holy Spirit converts. Could it be that the same principle is true in mission mobilization? Is it the Holy Spirit who brings that moment of revelation?

Secular Humanism Says…

For a long time, I did mission mobilization with what you might call a secular humanist presupposition. Secular humanists have this idea that people are basically good. If a good person is doing something wrong, it’s because they didn’t get the right education. This is the thinking: if you give people the right information or training, they will do the right thing. Good information will lead to good choices and decisions.

But I discovered it didn’t work. I would do a great job sharing information and nothing would change. Maybe more information is not the issue. When you look at the world today, there has never been more access to information, ever. We have so much at our fingertips. But has that allowed us to be better human beings? Do we see less war, injustice, corruption, and immorality? Even just looking at my own life: How many amazing books have I read? How much have they actually transformed my life? Information does not necessarily lead to transformation.

We Have to Rely on the Holy Spirit

We can make a lot of disciples who can give the right answers, but what they understand hasn’t changed their hearts. We may find this in ourselves, too: We know what’s important but don’t live it out. I’ve become convicted and convinced that I want to be a disciple who not only hears but also obeys the Word and applies it. It’s so much more valuable to get a little bit of information and apply it and obey it than to get a lot and not apply it. The world needs disciples who act on what they know.

And this is where we need the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who adds revelation to the information we receive and brings it to our hearts so we can say, “Whoa, that’s for me.” He helps us apply it in our life and gives us the ability to be transformed from the inside out, not just by stuffing our heads full of more information.

There’s No “Heart Switch”

It would be nice if we could just turn on a switch in our hearts (or someone else’s) to have a burden for the lost, to really want to reach out to a group like the Fulani people of West Africa. But it turns out there is no switch like that. I can’t flip the switch. What I can do is say, “God, can you give me some of your heart for the Fulani?” When we do mobilization, we need to remember we can’t give people a love for the lost, and they can’t drum it up for themselves either. What we can do is tell people about the lost and our love for the lost.

Often, in the past, if I did that and it didn’t bring change, I would get frustrated and judge people. “I’ve told you this so many times! Why don’t you care? Why don’t you get it?” Have you ever felt that way? That’s another reason we need the Spirit’s help.

Evangelism and Mobilization Have Something in Common

When it comes to evangelism, we’ve been taught that our job is to sow the seed. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” It’s also true in mobilization. We can tell stories, share information, and offer opportunities, but it’s the Holy Spirit who can bring the mobilization equivalent of conversion, that “aha!” moment when people say, “Oh! I have a part to play in the Great Commission.”

This is the way we’ve been saying it at GlobalCAST Resources: Mobilization is to the Body of Christ what evangelization is to the unreached. The same principles that we apply in evangelism can inform how we do mobilization.

Don’t Try to Be the Holy Spirit

This has been so helpful to me. I don’t know about you, but in the effort to try to get people to care, I’ve tried to do the Holy Spirit’s job. And that’s not a good idea. I may even try to use things like fear and guilt and shame to get people to do things. When we try to play Holy Spirit, it’s just manipulating. It’s ugly and it doesn’t bring life. So we must let the Holy Spirit do His job. He will convict someone of a certain thing and then actually give the grace to respond to that conviction. So He’s so much better at this than any of us.

Prioritize Prayer

When it comes to evangelism, we know we need to pray because prayer can change hard soil to good soil that can receive the seed. Let’s approach mobilization the same way. If there is hard soil where you’ve been sharing this message and inviting people to do things in missions, and it’s just not working, step back and give yourself to prayer. Ask God to make them ready to receive the message of missions. You are joining in with Jesus’s mobilization prayer, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).

Consider the Mobilization of Paul

I’ve been emphasizing that mobilization is the work of the Holy Spirit. But I want to acknowledge that it’s still a partnership. You can see this in the life of Paul. He’s walking on the road to Damascus going to persecute some Christians when Jesus confronts him and mobilizes him to be the most amazing missionary to the Gentile world. Amazing!

But, let’s not forget the role of Barnabas. Barnabas took a risk on this known terrorist and walked with him as a mentor and a coach. Barnabas was key to Paul becoming a missionary to the nations.

We need many more men and women with the heart of Barnabas who are willing to come alongside and encourage rough, unpolished, future missionaries who still have flaws, to coach them and be patient with them and walk with them.

Some statistics show that out of every 100 young people who say, “Here am I, send me to the nations,” only three actually go. Hundreds say yes. Three will go. I’m convinced that part of the problem is a lack of mission mobilizers with the spirit of Barnabas who will keep them going. We need you, mobilizers!

Offering People Opportunities to Invest

Another principle for inspiring the heart comes across clearly in Matthew 6:21, which says, “where your treasure is there, your heart will be also.” We need to give opportunities for people to pray and give and volunteer. Because as they invest in something, their heart connects with that very same thing. Do not underestimate the value of giving people opportunities to pray and give. That may be what inspires their hearts.

The Story of Steve

Steve is a friend of mine, a young man invited by the Holy Spirit to say yes to going to another nation. And he did say yes. I happened to have the privilege of coaching and mentoring him, of helping him take the next step, and encouraging him along the way. But it was very clear that I did not talk him into missions.

Later on, he was working in an unreached area and had learned the language and everything. Then while they were praying and worshiping God highlighted another province that was very needy. And Steve said yes again and went. The Holy Spirit mobilized him to a new place. But even then, other leaders, friends, and coaches helped him form a team and face the challenges of pioneering. It’s always a partnership.

Conclusion: Mobilizers With the Heart of Barnabas

We need many more men and women who are willing to encourage others to go further and have more influence than they do, themselves. People like Barnabas. I think he is my favorite picture of a mission mobilizer in the New Testament. Be a Barnabas!

Going Further

Could you use some training (or inspiration) as a mission advocate or mobilizer? GlobalCAST Resources offers an eight-week, online missions advocacy course through YWAM’s University of the Nations.

Contact them to learn when the next course begins.

This article was adapted from a video presentation you can find on the GlobalCAST Resources website. See Inspire The Heart!

About Bevin Ginder

Bevin is part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and co-founder of GlobalCAST Resources. He loves to connect, equip, and coach missions leaders, mobilizers, and advocates.

Follow GlobalCAST on social media for regular doses of inspiration.

How to Inspire God’s People for Their Global Destiny

Read or share the email edition.

Part 2: Inspire the Mind

Bevin Ginder, GlobalCAST Resources

This article is the second in a three-part series looking at core principles of mission mobilization: ways to inspire God’s people for their global destiny.

In the first part, Bevin reminded us that people around us pick up on our passions and watch our lives rather than just listening to what we say. So, if we’re going to be effective mission mobilizers, we have to start with ourselves by keeping our passion for God’s kingdom purposes strong and fresh. Bevin shared some practical ways we can do that.

Now let’s look at key ways to inspire the hearts and minds of others.

Recognize Two Mobilization Challenges

In the West, we have a lot of work to do in the area of missions education, helping believers in the West to re-learn, to understand, what missions is and what their part in mission is. Not long ago the Barna organization did a big survey that showed that 51% of the people who go to church in the US did not know even know what the Great Commission is.

In the Global South, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, there is a different kind of challenge. I have had the privilege of a front-row seat in my organization to meet many Latin American, Asian, and African men and women, face to face. And these guys are incredible. They have strong character. They have a clear call to the nations. They even have the training and equipping to some degree. What they don’t have is support.

That points to another mobilization challenge: We need many more leaders who are not only going to train those who will go, but also those who will stay and send. We need to help those who stay understand their privilege and responsibility to pray and give to support those who will go. We need people to mobilize and inspire the minds of the senders.

Answer the “Why” Questions

In both cases, a key to inspiring people for their global destiny is to make sure we answer the question, “Why?” That has to be a priority. Too often, especially regarding missions, we jump into where to go, how to do things, and who to serve…. all important things. But we should start with why.

  • Why should we care about the nations?
  • What does the Bible say about the nations?
  • What is God’s heart for the nations?

If we answer the question “why should we care?” then people with a good reason to care will be motivated to learn other things. But they won’t go as far without strong motivation.

Teach The Biblical Basis for Missions

A key to answering the “why?” question is to be ready to give a good case for what the Bible says about missions. Many people are actually thinking, hey, I know maybe a few missions verses. (But I guess 51% of those in my country don’t even know one missions verse!) For those who do know some missions verses, they can come up with a couple, 15 maybe if they’re really good! But they could be thinking, “There are 31,000 verses in the Bible. If there are 15 verses about missions, is it really that important?” That’s a “why?” question!

So, we as mission advocates, as missions mobilizers, need to be ready to show people that missions is a theme that goes from Genesis all the way through to the book of Revelation and ties the whole story of the Bible together. We have to be able to do that in a creative, new way for each generation.

Share Information About the Task Remaining

When you’re talking about inspiring the mind, compelling information is important. We have amazing sources for information about missions and about the world, like the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Operation World, and Joshua Project. Others have done the work to show where the people groups are and what the need is, and we can get that and make sure it gets to the people who are praying and the people who are giving, and the people who are going.

Part of our job as mission advocates is to connect our communities to the information that’s out there. I like to share bits and pieces people can remember, like the fact that 86% of the Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims in the 10/40 Window do not have a Christian friend. That’s the kind of information people can remember.

But we have to be careful with information because sometimes we can use information like a club and pound people with it. And if we push too hard with information or in the wrong way, people push back, right? They close their hearts. They close their minds. So the information is good. But I found that actually, stories inspire even better than information!

Remember We’re Wired for Stories

Think of a time you were listening to somebody talking and giving lots of information. But then they say, “I want to tell you a story.” I don’t know about you, but when somebody says “Once upon a time” or starts to tell a story, I start to listen in a whole new way. I listen better. And that story is often the only thing I remember.

It seems that just about every culture in the world loves stories, and often actually prefers to get important ideas through stories. So we should learn to grow as storytellers, to develop and practice the art of storytelling.

The Story God Is Telling

I find it very fruitful to reframe missions as a story God is telling. We can talk about the task and we can talk about the need. Those things are real. We can give lots of charts and statistics about unreached people groups. But what about the reality that this is actually a big story God is telling? All the things we love about a story, whether it’s a movie or a book, are actually in the story that God is telling.

If we like romantic stories, well, guess what? God is our bridegroom God, and he’s in love with his bride. And missions is not just a task, it’s inviting and preparing the bride for the party at the end of the story. And that bride is made up of every nation, tongue, and tribe, right? You see, it’s a romance story!

If you like action stories, hey, this story has that! There’s a bad guy who led a revolt and is still creating problems. And we take real risks and are invited to pray dangerous prayers like, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” We go do crazy things for the kingdom of God! That is the reality. That’s part of this story.

This Story Includes an Invitation

If we reframe missions in light of the story God is telling, it’s much more inspirational. And missions is not just a task; it comes with an invitation to ordinary people just like us. He loves to use people just like us to play key roles in the story: fishermen, tax collectors, and people who may have no skills or finances.

Let me just close with a story for you. This is a story about an amazing Asian couple, friends of mine. The husband had been involved in missions for some time, and then he met an amazing lady and they got married. But his new wife was not at all sure she wanted to be a missionary.

They did a Discipleship Training School. I had the privilege of teaching on missions for one week in their school. I approached missions not as task and need and duty, but as the privilege to be a part of an amazing story God is telling, a story filled with romance and adventure. And she caught that. It brought her to the place where she was able to say “yes” to God’s invitation to be a missionary.

Now, together as a couple, they have been doing an amazing job mobilizing many workers into their country and from their country to other places.

Going Further

Could you use some training (or inspiration) as a mission advocate or mobilizer? GlobalCAST Resources will be offering an eight-week, online missions advocacy course from September 5 to October 28.

Learn more or register through YWAM’s University of the Nations.

This article was adapted from a video presentation you can find on the GlobalCAST Resources website. See Inspire The Mind!

Next month: Part 3, Inspire the Heart

About Bevin Ginder

Bevin is part of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and co-founder of GlobalCAST Resources. He loves to connect, equip, and coach missions leaders, mobilizers, and advocates. Follow GlobalCAST on social media for regular doses of inspiration.

Opening photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash.