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4 Insights I've Gained Living an Unexpected Life in Missions.

Jan 29, 2021 10:00:00 AM

For some people transition can be a scary word. For some, they live off the rush of change and having their world’s turned upside down. For others the very idea of something not going to plan or having to adapt, sends shivers down their spines. Missions almost goes hand in hand with transitions and change so wherever you fall on that spectrum, there are a couple of things I’ve learned during my two years as a missionary with YWAM that I think will help you. Here they are! 

1. Commit to Staying Connected.

Coming for a DTS is a huge deal. 6 months away from your friends, family, your hometown, your favorite coffee shop, your dog! It’s easy to wonder what will happen while you’re gone, what you’ll miss. Funnily enough, it’s common for most DTS students to get home and realize that less has changed than they expected! DTS is such a transformative experience, we can assume that everyone else is changing as much as we are in the times that we’re away. But odds are, they’re not in a greenhouse of growth like you are! 

But when you’re away for longer- if you come on staff or go overseas for longer periods of time; the homesickness and FOMO can get real! Having commitments with your friends and family that you stick to can really help with those feelings. Maybe it’s a certain night a week that you set aside for a FaceTime or maybe it’s once a month and you do a Movie Watch Party. Maybe it’s a group chat that you send little daily thoughts or videos in. Find a way that works for you and your support system and remember that even though you’ve “left” home, it doesn't mean that you have to “leave” your family behind! 

Honest Communication is key! We’re made for intentional relationships and no one likes feeling like they’re losing anybody! But as your life and schedule (and maybe time zone!) changes, so will what you’re able to commit to. Tell your friends how you’re feeling and ask them to be willing to adjust with you so that you keep your relationships healthy. Don’t forget to ask about their lives and stay invested in the things that you’re not necessarily a part of anymore!

2. Live Minimally.

Stuff! Who needs it?

Most of us think that we need a lot more than we actually do! Being a missionary can introduce you to confines like limited storage, roommates, having to be able to pack everything into one carryable bag! All of these things can really teach you a lot about what is an essential and what isn’t. 

Stuff isn’t inherently bad but sometimes our relationships to our belongings can give us funny principles or ideas that are actually contrary to what the Bible says about money or things! We’re given a commission as followers of Jesus to be generous and hospitable (2 Cor 9:10-12). Over attachment or fixation on owning things can mean that we’re slower to share or to give. 

I’ve met people through YWAM who practice living minimally and generously in a couple of really cool ways! 

One friend has a resolution to never own more than she can fit in her car. She wants to be able and ready to “go” if the Lord calls her somewhere, never held back by her belongings. Another gives away 80% of his income (which is almost completely support based)! He prays each year that the Lord will increase his income so that he can raise the level that he gives. The number started at 20% and has grown to now, where his support covers his expenses and makes it possible to give 80% away! 

All this reminds me of the kind of Kingdom living that we’re supposed to do while we’re here on Earth. Living on support as a missionary gives you so many unique opportunities to see God move in ways that you wouldn’t think were possible! The whole Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it and He is a God who loves to give good gifts to His children. (Psalm 24, Matt 7:11) What reason do we have to worry about storing up? We can give without fear because our promise is that we’ll never be without that which we truly need.

Minimal living invites you to be grateful for that which you do have and leads to joy when we take stock of the ways that God blesses and cares for His people. 

3. Practice Rhythms to Build Structure.

When everything is new and different, there’s nothing like doing something familiar to settle you and remind you that it’s all going to be okay. Missions can take you to new places with new people and it can all be so exciting! But sometimes all the change can leave you with a sense of restlessness. 

Practicing rhythms is similar to developing good habits. Take note of the things that bring you life, that make you feel at home or peaceful. Find ways to incorporate the practice of those things into your life so that when things around you change, you still have stability knowing that there will always be something coming that you can rely on. 

If you’re an internal processor, make sure you carve out time every day or every other day to journal or be alone. If you get energy from exercise or adventures, find ways to incorporate movement into your day. On the mission field, it’s important to get creative! Structure helps you stay balanced and keeps you motivated and encouraged. Your rhythms should always include intentional time with Jesus. Bible study, prayer, meditation and reflection are all key practices that keep us grounded and sustained (Psalm 1).

4. It's Okay when It's Hard!

Living life as a missionary is like any other life. It has amazing highs and moments of wonder and awe and beauty. You have endless opportunities to be a part of what God is doing and even more to step out of your comfort zone. Your faith is tested and refined and grown. It’s amazing. 

But just like any other life, there are lows; moments when it is difficult and uncomfortable and scary. Growth isn’t easy and the Lord never promised us that a radical life would be without challenge (John 16:33). Living a transitional life means that for as many extraordinary “hello’s” you get to say, there are almost as many “goodbye’s”. Friends and families move or you leave and it can feel like your heart breaks a little every time. 

And it’s okay that it’s hard sometimes. Jesus invites us to bring our burdens and our heaviness to Him and be honest about how we’re doing (Psalm 55:22, Isaiah 41:13). We don’t have to have it all together all the time! 

Missions matter to God so we can always trust Him to meet all our needs. DTS was my first introduction to missions and I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve learned so much about what it means to trust God and let Him be the source and the center of my life. And I know I’m not finished! DTS is an amazing way to get started and go deeper with God. If you have 6 months to give and a desire to do something extraordinary with God, then DTS is for you!

Interested in Jesus, adventure, and growing in your faith?

Do a Discipleship Training School, YWAM’s flagship missionary training course. It's a great gap year option. It's also perfect for anyone looking to step out of the ordinary and grow in your faith.

How does it work?

First, you’ll spend 3 months getting to know God amongst a vibrant Christian community and the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Then you’ll embark on a life-changing 2-month overseas missions trip, focused on making God known. A new DTS starts every September, January, April, and June! Submit your info below to learn more. 

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