Learning How to Thrive Overseas 

Written by at Cafe 1040 Student

If I’m honest, I really had no idea what this program was about until I got here. I had a vague idea that it would help prepare me for future work overseas, yet I didn’t even know what I needed preparation in.

For many, the first thought that comes to mind when considering going or sending someone as a cross-cultural laborer overseas is the idea that they need “spiritual” training. That is, they need their relationship with God strengthened, an understanding of the biblical basis of work, and a plethora of tools for evangelism and discipling.

I will not deny for a second that each of those things are necessary, in fact I couldn’t go anywhere without them. But what I have learned is that in many cases, that is where the training ceases; we do nothing or very minimal in the area of practical training.

We believe that we can pack a bag and learn to adapt in this new place that is nowhere near what we grew up in. All of the practical skills for living are assumed to be learned on the field.

Well, what is a missionary supposed to do when they get off the plane and they cannot read a single sign around them? What happens when they stop a local to ask a question and find out there is no way they understand what you are asking? How is a missionary supposed to explain to a taxi driver that they need to go to this specific address that they have scribbled on a note card when the taxi driver doesn’t use street names to get around but landmarks? How is a missionary supposed to wash their clothes without a washing machine? How does a missionary buy groceries when there is no Walmart nearby? The list goes on and before you know it the missionary is on a plane back home because they could not handle the feelings of stress, disappointment, loneliness, failure, frustration, or anxiety.

That is where this program steps in. One of the first things we were told was that by the end of the program they could drop us anywhere in the world and we would not only know how to survive, but thrive.

The mindset and philosophy is not to see how many people you can share with before you get kicked out of the country, but rather what steps can you take to wisely steward the gifts God has given, so that you can stay here for the long haul and be used by God to not just see one or two people come to know the Father, but an entire village or people fall in love with their Creator.