Have you ever heard of a soldier being deployed to a warzone where there was no base or personnel? Me neither. Now, I’m no expert on the military’s tactics, but I do know more than a few of their brave but pragmatic people and i’m sure they’d tell you it’s suicide. In the same way, going to another country to preach Christ all on your lonesome is, in most cases, not a good idea. Why? The Apostle Paul puts it best in his second letter to the Christians living in the ancient city of Ephesus:
“For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” – Ephesians 6:12, The Bible
Notice that Paul, one of the most devout Christian evangelists, a man full of the Holy Spirit and known to work miracles, acknowledged that there IS a struggle and one that is cosmic and raging in heavenly realms above our understanding. Some think that once we become Christians that there is nothing that can stand against us. That is true in the sense that Jesus Christ is predestined to be victorious, but in the meantime we have an unearthly enemy that will fight us and the progression of God’s light in the world. So, lets talk about making connections in the places you’ll be going to because if you belong to Jesus Christ and choose the life of a missionary, then you are a soldier by default. Yes, I said a soldier, and one engaged in the greatest war that remains unseen, the fight for the souls of humanity.
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” – Apostle Paul’s second letter to his pupil, 2 Timothy 2:3-5, The Bible
Naturally, the connections we’re talking about are with other Christians who share your burning love for God. The good news is that if there are believers working as Pastors, teachers and missionaries in non-Christian territory, chances are greater that they are passionate about the Lord and in it for life. This is crucial and will be such a relief as you will be in fellowship with people that not only share your faith but have a headstart on witnessing strategy, culture, housing needs and what to avoid at the restaurant. Seriously though, it will be a great help to your spiritual mission as well as your need for human interaction. Of course, one does not have to be a Christian to be kind and hospitable and I have met some real gems of personality in my travels, beautiful people that made me feel at home here in Japan, Korea and elsewhere. On the other hand, to hearken back to Paul’s warnings about what is really behind the scenes, I have also witnessed people change in front of me once they found out about my Christian life and mission.
With that, I suggest you start researching and contacting some churches located at your future missions post while still in your home country. In this modern age, we have it far better than our Christian ancestors, who would travel hundreds of miles not knowing how their “brothers and sisters” would receive them, so find out as much as you can about what they believe and practice, then try to build a good rapport as much as is possible from long distance. There are also associations and organizations that are formed for the purpose of sending out missionaries. Some are focused more on relief efforts for disaster stricken areas while others are geared more towards sharing the gospel. Then there are groups that do both. It’s entirely up to what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do in this matter. If you have prior experience serving in the church at home, make sure to document it and let these groups know. They may be able to help you with paper work for entering the country like a visa, if you are expecting a longterm assignment. That is a bit complicated, so I’ll leave it for another post.
Enjoy your research and remember, a good soldier hits the ground running in a firefight, but it’s made much smoother if there are troops already there providing cover fire.