This is the second part in a three part series on lessons learned in year one as international church planters. To see part one click here.
6. Be Patient When Equipping Nationals
Once you have chosen some nationals to invest in, you will need to be patient in equipping them. One primary reason for this is that many of them are brand new believers themselves. A second reason for this is that often times what has been modeled for them in ministry is not very healthy so it can take some time to get them focused on a more sold biblical model.
7. Don't Invest All of Your Time or Resources In Only a Couple of Nationals.
The reason for this is that you can waste a lot of time. Yes, it is important to choose some nationals to invest in and you want to be patient with them, but if you spend all of your time with only a couple you are likely setting yourself up for disappointment. I have had to learn this the hard way at times this last year as many national partners turned their back on me only to spread rumors about me and other nationals. One guy in particular was the guy I saw with the most potential...live and learn.
8. Teach People To Be Missionaries
We commonly mistaken missionaries as only people who leave and go away to far away countries. While that is one aspect of missionaries, it misses the majority of people who are called to be missionaries right where they live. Serving in S. Asia I always focus on the nationals also being missionaries to their own culture as one day when I leave I do not want the work to stop or disciples to stop being made. For the entire year that I have been here I have been hitting the same drum over and over, the Great Commission and that it was given to all believers. I focus on the four things that all believers are to be actively doing: Go, Make Disciples, Baptize, and Teach Obedience.
9. Don't Be Surprised at Special Gift Support
We have been blessed to be sent out by our local church that partners with an organization which makes it possible for the majority of our finances to be taken care of. But there are always other ministry needs and a budget for extra things such as trainings, materials, Bibles, etc. For the most part we have never gone looking for this extra money but God has continued to use individuals and groups to bless the work and ministry here. As people such as high school students and single parents have given sacrificially in order to see people here have a chance to hear the gospel.
10. Don't Be Surprised At Conflict with Other International Workers
Although we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, we don't always treat each other that way. One of the number one reasons that cross-cultural workers leave the field early is because of other cross-cultural workers. That is the sad reality that we live in and the enemy loves pinning cross-cultural workers against one another. We have experienced our fair share of this and at other times observed it. It caught us off guard at first that some of those within our own organization would act in such ways. But by God's grace he has provided other foreign partners that many times are out here on their own. We were greatly reminded of this beautiful thing at Thanksgiving when we had over five different organizations represented as a family around one table.