AUTHOR: VICE-PRESIDENT OF MINISTRIES, NANCY LOVELACE
No matter how much we tell or don't tell the enamored and expectant missionary intern before their internship, they all arrive with assumptions that they don't know they have until they are disappointed or just plain shocked when they arrive for their internship and facing these realities in the face. We just returned from 3 weeks in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, kicking off another Timothy Internship with 11 interns and 9 children.
1) Community Living with strangers is a real jolt! They come full of romance and ideologies about becoming a missionary. Living with strangers seems to be some far off figment of their imagination. I think they realize subconsciously that they this may be a challenge, but in reality there is usually no reference point; so, they just choose to believe that it will be "wonderful", kind of like an engaged couple dreaming of their fairy tale marriage, that they will live happily ever after and that challenges will be easily overcome just like in the movies.
2) Class time is a shocker! To learn the essentials of missionary living, how to become a true disciple of Christ that is continually growing and changing to become like the Master, how to handle conflict biblically and in a way that causes natural spiritual and emotional growth, how to become an apostolic band of believers that will flow and work together as a true New Testament Team in order to grow together and to produce a lasting work in the nation you are called to, how to do various types of missions ministry that is "not just preaching, counseling and praying" and more, requires a substantial amount of class time, homework and additional reading to get everyone on the same page to practice new ways of being and doing.
3) Culture shock is unexpected! Despite how much we prep people for culture shock, the interns are always shocked and disappointed by their inability to communicate with the people, the heat, the ways of being and doing that are foreign to them, AND, they are shocked that the internship itself creates a culture within a culture because of what the interns are going through together, learning together and becoming together.
4) Transformation sounds wonderful until the expectation and demand is placed upon you to be the one to be transformed! Learning to be vulnerable, transparent and learn new ways of communicating, being and doing are a challenge on every level of your being. You have to trust leaders and fellow interns where you have obvious "trust" issues from the past. Pride is challenged and humility has to be embraced. Yet, the Holy Spirit is working an incredibly beautiful, powerful and marvelous thing in each one and in the team that is a reflection of Christ and heaven and that positions the interns and their team to make an eternal deposit in that nation that will change it forever!
5) Not having control over your time, your diet and your space is not only a challenge, but can be a threat to security! The internship is a spiritual bootcamp and places each one in a totally vulnerable and new place that the interns have most likely never been in before. It requires a yielding, a flexibilty, a trust, a faith, an inward knowing and confidence in their calling, that forces them to grow like never before. This is required if each one is going to step into their calling with boldness and assurance that God has called them to a dark place of the world where you don't have the multitude surrounding you speaking the same language, values and mission. It is also required if you are going to be a healthy team member that builds the kingdom and not an anti team member that tears down and seeks his own agenda.
God is so merciful and patient, yet so very serious about equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. Ephesians 4:11-14 "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and someas evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to thefullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." We have a God opportunity to make a difference that counts. Jesus that many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). I believe that is because few count the costs and lay down their lives to be "chosen", the sent ones.