Wow! The last week of training was an amazing week. It’s so hard to believe a whole month has gone by already. God worked in so many different ways throughout the week to show himself to us. The relationships that began just three weeks ago have deepened into true friendships that will carry on for years due to the bonds we have formed preparing together for our times of service. We have had many wonderful times fellowshipping, playing, singing worshipping, and praying together. And the teachings have continued to inspire and challenge us.
The sessions this week moved from mostly theory to specific examples of how God has been at work around the world. It began with learning the general methods that have been successful in the “Jesus movement” in the last two millennia, then we heard from missionaries to different cultures and how they were able to reach those cultures with the message of Christ’s love. Contextualization was emphasized many times over as of great importance in introducing Christ without railroading over the current practices and behaviors of those being reached, and contextualization requires a good deal of language and culture knowledge. Tuesday evening we watched the movie EE-taow (more here), and Wednesday morning we were privileged to hear from Mark Zook himself. Oh, to be used by God and see the results in such a joyous and life-changing way! Mark shared valuable information about how to introduce the Bible’s stories to animistic (tribal) cultures, much of which can be used anywhere, and some of which helped me to see parts of the Bible in a new light. No one was ready for his session to be over.
We also discussed how results are not always this immediate. Sometimes, missionaries can be on the field for decades and see very little return on their investment, but that does not mean God is not at work. One speaker shared that it can take 13-15 encounters for someone to actually accept the truth of Christ into their lives. If we are just one of those seeds for someone, we brought that person one step closer to Life!
Thursday and Friday we reviewed many of the tools we learned about during the month and were encouraged to continue to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit, and to remember that He is always there with us. One of the final speakers challenged us with these four way to have excellence in ministry:
- Care more than others think is wise.
- Risk more than others think is safe.
- Believe more than others think is possible
- Dream more than others think is practical.
Friday afternoon we had an amazing time of prayer for each couple/individual and the country they are going to. As we were praying, if anyone had a word of encouragement or Scripture for the person, they could write it on a post-it note and lay it aside. We now have a whole stack of notes as continuous reminders of God’s love for us through others!
Also, the very last day, God finally (in His perfect timing) revealed to us where he has called us to go! However, it is a rather long story and so will be a post of its own in the near future.
Despite the diversity of people and the variety of our destinations, we were greatly encouraged by everyone there. I spent more than one evening discussion homeschooling on and off the mission field with another mom of five headed for a very primitive culture in Guinea Bissau. It was amazing how much we had in common–especially with two of her kids so close in age and personality to Daisy and Cub. Ted organized a ping-pong tournament that came down to one very exciting game that went into mega-overtime the final night. We also enjoyed a late-night hymn sing and many games of Settlers of Catan, Albanian volleyball, and sand volleyball with everyone.
As I sit here trying to figure out how to capture the awesome love and bonding that there is in the body of Christ, I’m realizing it’s not really possible to do with just words–especially not the limited amount of words in a blog post. So I will simply close with a few photos:
All of the missionaries and their families (along with a couple of EMM staff) the last day of training. We will miss these people greatly and wish them many blessings in their travels to come.
Late-night hymn sing.
A celebratory dance–Albanian-style–after our(!) team won the second trivia night.
An exciting game from the ping-pong tournament.
The riveted spectators.
A cute picture of Rosebud…required for almost every post, right? 😉
What greeted us in our mailbox at home!