How can I be spiritually and emotionally prepared to live and work in another culture?

“Good questions will help you learn how you need to grow.”

Concerning emotional preparation, I recommend meeting with a trained counselor who can guide you to gain greater awareness of your emotional condition. 

Concerning spiritual preparation, buy the book Global Mission Handbook by Steve Hoke and Bill Taylor. They devoted thirty pages with a series of questions to assist you in this area.

Answer from Ed, who served with SIM for 22 years in Nigeria, Liberia, and Eritrea.

“Experiential learning programs help you discover where you need to grow and build your confidence for what’s next.”

A growing number of mission agencies and networks provide programs that function as internships or apprenticeships, blending training and field experience. One significant advantage of these experiential learning programs is that they provide enough pressure to help you discover your emotional and spiritual vulnerabilities in an environment where you have mentoring and support to deal with them, something that can be harder to find once you’re on the field long-term. 

Some good examples:

Radius International offers a ten-month training program in Mexico which affords students daily, real-time experience learning to integrate culture and language acquisition, spiritual formation, team building, and high-stress living.

TOAG (Training Ordinary Apprentices to Go) is a ten-month program offered in many U.S. cities which includes reaching out to internationals.

The Guild places apprentices in ethnic communities of Los Angeles for 8-12 months.

Beautiful Feet Boot Camp is a ten-month missionary training program for those called to long-term service among the unreached.

Café 1040 is a three-month intense immersion and training program that places participants in teams overseas.

Global Frontier Missions has a five-month missionary training school that combines classroom time with local cross-cultural outreach.

Many missionaries also profit from Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills Workshops. These workshops are designed to equip participants with skills in building community, managing relationships and navigating the conflict and stress inherent in cross-cultural ministry, and they are undergirded with Bible study and biblical principles.

Find links to these and other types of training in the resources section of our website under courses and events.

Answer from staff.

“Minister internationally at home.”

God has brought the internationals of the world to the doorstep of every church in America, to every neighborhood, to YOUR doorstep! Ministering among them in our culture, yet having to adapt yourself to their culture (for they are not becoming “American”), will stretch you spiritually and emotionally. This is the best preparation for “doing it” over “there.”

Answer from Neal Pirolo, author of several books including Serving as Senders and Internationals Who Live Among Us .

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