"Are we ready for the mission field?"
This is a question I've asked myself several times over the past few days.
There are of lots of things we've done to get "ready" for this. It started with years of prayer and a sense of God's call to missions. Then we completed the year-long IMB application process with countless forms, questionnaires, and meetings. More recently, we've focused on selling our home and everything in it. Next, we'll be saying goodbye to family and friends. But eventually, we'll transition to life on the mission field.
All these steps are part of getting "ready" for the mission field.
Last night we met with a couple who will mentor Amy and me during our first year in Mexico. They probed our call to missions and shared the difficulties of life overseas. It was a sobering reminder that all the things we've done so far are the "easy" part.
Soon things will be much more challenging.
We will dedicate our entire first year to learning to speak Spanish. Much of that time, we will have the functional ability of a first grader. There will be long hours of studying until our brains hurt. We'll attend church every week while not understanding the sermon. Tasks that are now easy will seem impossible in another culture. It will force us out of our comfort zones in ways we don't even understand yet.
In the middle of these challenges, we'll want to come home. Others will ask us to come home. We'll watch other missionary families go home. And we will wonder why we should continue to struggle when it's so easy to go back home.
All of this makes us enter this next stage of ministry with fear and trembling. Are we really cut out for this? Do we have what it takes? Are we really the type of people God calls to the mission field?
When I look inward for reassurance, I'm not hopeful. I'm all too aware of my desire for ease and comfort. I know how much I like to be successful and competent. I know how hard it is for me to be relational as an introvert.
But when I look upward, I'm reminded that my hope isn't in my strength, my talents or my ability to tough it out. My hope is in the presence of God, who promises to be with me. No matter what challenges I face, I know I won't have to face them alone.
I try to remind myself of what God said in Joshua 1:9 as often as possible.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As I look at the future challenges of life on the mission field, I'm tempted to be afraid. I'm tempted to focus on my weaknesses. And if I had to face these challenges alone, I would certainly fail. But just like Joshua, God has promised to be with me wherever I go. I can choose to follow God's call to make disciples, knowing that He will be with me every step of the way.
So, are we ready for the mission field? No, not in our own strength. But with the promise of God's presence, we can move forward with hope and confidence.
But we also put our hope in the prayers of God's people on our behalf. There will be times when we struggle to pray, and it will be your prayers that make the difference. Will you commit to praying for us regularly? Will you ask God to give us strength when we feel weak?
And how can we pray for you? Send us a message if we can lift you up in prayer.
Jared and Amy Mitcham