Jack, I am a 40 year old ...

Karen asked:

Jack, I am a 40 year old professional with the government, and I believe that God has called me to the mission field. I have an A.A., but have not completed my bachelor's degree. I feel that I need to complete my degree, and am currently looking at a program in Biblical Studies which is regionally accredited and also ACSI accredited. Are there any words of wisdom you can share as I prepare for this path God has set before me?Karen

Jack Answered:

Thanks for your note, Karen, and congratulations both for answering God's call to mission and for taking the plunge to finishing your bachelor's degree. I'm glad you found a place to study, and though you may be older than your fellow students, what you bring to the class-room in terms of life experiences will make your learning all the richer and your contributions in class quite helpful to those who are much younger.

Words of wisdom, hmmm. So much depends on which agency you will be going with, where you will serve, and what you will be doing! Some thoughts:

1) Try to get some literature which will give you a history of the agency you'll be working with, perhaps a biography or two of the founders / early leaders. All institutions change, but seeing where the organization has come from is always helpful in enlarging your perspectives.

2) Do as much research as you can on the place you will be going. Operation World is a good place to start for an overview. Since you have worked for the government, you will know something of the information, open to the public, that it puts out. Catch some of the hard realities you will be facing, as well as the "feel good" publicity that agencies often publish to encourage doners in their participation. (I'm not implying that missionary agencies misrepresent their contexts, but in public relations we always want to put our best food forward.)

3) As you deal with your mission agency, try to get as clear a picture as you can of what they will be expecting of you. Visit the "home office" and get to know the folks there in administration, public relations, information services, the accounting department, personnel, etc. You will be dealing with these folks and the better you have a face with a name and some contact, even it were a 10 minute conversation, but the better. Even though you are getting a later start than probably most of your missionary colleagues, it would be good to talk with your supervisor about furlough and even the possibility of future study. Your BA, as important as it is, will probably need strengthening, and after your first term in the mission context you may well want to get more preparation. It would be helpful to know what the policy of your entity is regarding an option of this kind.

4) Begin developing your prayer support base. In these next two years of study, seek to draw around you a tight knit group of friends with whom you can pray on a regular basis and whom you can get to know quite well, people who will support you in prayer on a regular basis. It will need to be a two-way street, people for whom you will want to pray, as well.

5) Depending on the financial arrangements of your entity (in other words, if you have to raise your own support), you will undoubtedly develop a list of people who will receive your news/prayer letter. If they are computer literate you can develop a pattern of regular e-mails. It would be good to begin sending them out quite soon, as you launch into your studies and begin to set your sights on where you will be working. If many of your friends are not computer literate, you will need to arrange for an individual or a service to send out your prayer letters. If you take pictures, great. If you are not comfortable with a camera, now is the time to learn. People will enjoy photos of your situation.

6) Make sure you have someone with whom you have confidence, who can handle all your affairs while you are gone, perhaps even to the extent of a power of attorney.

Well, we'll leave it at that for the moment. I trust that something in this list will be of help to you.

Blessings on you, Karen.

Jack

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