Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Getting Along With Fellow Missionaries

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Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go, Team Building

DisagreementMany problems may arise during a mission trip. Those problems can range from poor weather that sets the mission back, difficulties communicating with locals, political unrest, and homesickness. However, one of the biggest problems that will arise during any trip is the problem of getting along with the other people on the trip. This is almost always a problem because those who go on missions often have very big personalities. They are very passionate about their jobs, and when you combine that with high stress and long hours, it often spells out disaster. All is not lost, however, if you can do the following things.

Understand why you are there
One of the best things you can remember while you are out on the field is why you are there in the first place. You are not there to quarrel with other missionaries. You have been sent on a job, and you want to get that job accomplished. Learn all you can about your mission before you go. Understand what is expected out of you. Once you arrive, focus on your reason for being there and work hard to accomplish this task.

Try to meet with all of the missionaries before you leave
While this is not always a possibility, you may can arrange a meeting with others before you go. Many times missions will have people from other churches or other areas. Some missionaries may have been on location a lot longer than you. If you can’t meet with them before going, try to establish contact through telephone calls, letters or emails to help you understand who you are working with.

Hear them out (aka Listen)

You have a definite opinion about situations and problems that may arise, but so do your fellow missionaries. When this happens, you need to have the ability to step back and hear them out. Listen to their opinion and try to understand where they are coming from. You never know when someone else’s opinion or ideas may prove more efficient or useful than you own. Make sure that when you do listen to others, you really listen and hear what they are saying. That goes a long way in getting along with others.

Don’t take charge right away
Sure every group or team has a natural leader. It just seems to happen. However, when you are on a mission, you need to resist the urge to come on too strong or too opinionated. Others will resent you and you will seem bossy. Take the time to get to know everyone before you appoint yourself the leader. Let others have the opportunity to fill this role.

The things that will serve you well in life will also serve you well on a mission. Just remember that you are there for a purpose and you should not let bad relationships or hard feelings get in the way of doing your job.

Photo by gbwarlow

Raising support

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Long-Term Missions, missions Fundraising, Planning to Go, Short-Term Missions

Missions trips, whether short or long term, are incredibly enriching experiences. When you travel somewhere outside of your comfort zone, it puts you in a place of vulnerability where you gain a renewed realization of your dependence on God. Most times those who travel on missions trips return home feeling that they might have been touched as much or more than those they were ministering to.

FundraisingHowever, one of the biggest blockages to going is an apparent lack of finances, and the fear that missionaries often have about raising support.

One common justification for avoiding asking for support is that some people feel they are putting others out by asking for money for their trip. However, raising support allows those who may not be able to travel to invest in and experience second-hand the movement of God in other places. Raising support lets you give other people an opportunity to participate in your trip.

Besides involving those at home, God also wants to be involved. The same self-sufficiency that keeps us from involving others can often make us more and more independent of God. When we do ask for support, we put provision in God’s hands. We also open the door for financial miracles in this way; more than once, I have seen God provide out of what seemed to be thin air! He’s a big dude – give Him a chance to do His thing.

In missions, asking for support is not only necessary to meet financial needs, but opens doors of relationship between yourself, others, and God. It shouldn’t be viewed as a burden, but an opportunity. God will use your need as something to strengthen your faith. Afterall, He chooses to use the weak things of this world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Types of missions trips

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Evangelism, Health, Orphanages, Picking a Trip, Service Projects, Types of Missions

Missionaries go to unfamiliar patches of Earth and spend their time in service to others. There are different kinds of missions, but they all will include service.

Evangelistic trips have the main objective of sharing Christ cross-culturally. Common ways this message is shared are through sermons, tracts, or even drama. It is very important that people on evangelistic missions remember that they must be learners before teachers. Learn about the new environment and all you can about the people. God is already working in the culture and He will present opportunities to share.

Other trips are focused on service projects that help meet a specific need. Sometimes that need is building a home for a family, or constructing a church or school. Other needs are health-related, and medical missions supplies nurses, doctors and medicine to help meet the physical needs of the community. Health Care

Orphanage ministries are another common focus for missionaries. Orphanages in developing countries are often understaffed with the caregivers being far outnumbered by the children. Those who enjoy working with children will find their gifts greatly appreciated by kids who need daily love and attention.

If you have discovered the type of trip that fits your skills and interests, pray and research what country needs that mission work. On the other hand, if you feel confident about your destination, be sure to tailor the type of ministry that you will be involved in to that country’s need.  

“If God calls you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.” — Jordan Groom

At first we may not readily associate a king’s crown and throne as being trinkets of a lowly position, but the kingdom of God is different than any earthly reign. God became a man and chose not to be served, but to serve others.

Photo by soldiersmediacenter

India: Etiquette, customs, facts and vital information

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Asia, Clothing, India, Travel Health & Safety

INDIA FACTS & STATS

Location: South Asia, bordered by Pakistan, Myanmar, and China in the North, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Bay of Bengal in the East, Sri Lanka in the South, and the Arabian Sea in the West.

Capital: New Delhi2-8-2011 3-45-13 PM

Climate: Highly variable depending on region. Hot, dry summers in the North followed by cold, dry winters. The South experiences hot, wet summers with tropical rainfall known as monsoons. The winter months from November to February have warm, humid days and comparatively cooler nights.

Population: 1,129,866,154 according to July 2007 estimates. The Indian economy is set to rise and is counted as the 12th largest in the world. 25% of the population live below the poverty line and this is a whopping figure when seen as a quarter of a billion. Unemployment rate is calculated to be close to 8%.

Ethnic Make-up: There are about 2,000 documented ethnic groups in India. It is a multicultural diversity that defies description.

taj mahal archReligions: Hindus 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, Others including Jews, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis 2%. Being a secular state, there is freedom to practice any religion. There is no present ban on evangelism, though some state governments have begun to note the disruptive forces that cause communal tensions due to conversions.

Language: Hindi is the national language, but there are about 22 other languages also recognized as official at the state and national level. In addition to these, about 200 other languages and their dialects are spoken by large communities of people. English is widely spoken and understood.

Government: Democratic Republic

Travel Issues: You require a valid visa to visit India and this can be obtained from an embassy in your country. You need a valid passport, a completed application form, two passport sized photos, visa fees, and a self-addressed and stamped special delivery envelope

Health & Safety: You need to immunize yourself against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis B, MMR, Malaria, Tetanus and Diphtheria. If you plan to spend time in rural areas, Japanese encephalitis and rabies are recommended. Take precautions against traveller’s diarrhea contracted when eating from roadside stalls.

 varanasi, india
Varanasi and Taj Mahal photos by  amanderson2

SOCIETY & CULTURE

The People: Indians are generally very traditional, conservative people who are very family-oriented. Religion is a way of life and they hardly begin any activity without first offering prayers. Though one country, the people of various states have distinct modes of culture, language, dress, rituals, food, and even behaviour patterns. Respect for elders is a given and so is tolerance for other religions.

shiva statueThe Religion: The major religion is Hinduism with about 80% followers. It is more a way of life that permeates all aspects of life. There are about 33,000 gods in the pantheon, each having patronage over a distinct aspect of life. They believe in karma and re-incarnation.

Role of Family: Extended families have given way to nuclear families, especially in the cities. However, family bonds are revered and elderly parents are respected and taken care of. In villages, the extended families in large compounds still hold sway, with a patriarchal elder in charge. There is a bias against the girl child, while a yearning for sons to populate the family tree is intrinsic.

India family Jammu
Indian family in Jammu – photo by babasteve
 

Ancestors: There is enormous respect for the dead. Lengthy rituals and ceremonies are conducted for the welfare of the dead. There is a strong belief in re-incarnation depending on the merits acquired in the present life-time. This varies depending on culture, religion and community.

Recreational Activities: In rural areas, there is a range of recreational activities and games that have been handed down by generations. City kids have their playstations, and computer games. Cricket, hockey, football, chess, and tennis and badminton are all popular in that order.

Anything else important for this culture: Generally referred to as a poor third-world country, the wealth of certain strata of society might come as a surprise. Though there is a vast swathe of population that can barely afford one meal a day, there is an upper middle class with affluent life-styles that will not take kindly to being clubbed with the rest.

It is considered fine to be curious about personal details such as marital status, lifestyle, and other things you’d rather not talk about to strangers. Be evasive yet pleasant. Being unmarried might trigger efforts at matchmaking as singleness is considered “pathetic.”

 kids in rickshaw in india
Photo by mckaysavage

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Meetings & Greetings: The traditional form of greeting involves holding your palms close before your chest while saying Namaste, which roughly translates to: I bow to the divinity in you. Hand shakes are acceptable among both genders in business circles. If a woman decides to do the traditional greeting, go with it.

Always greet and address the senior most person in the group first. Use appropriate title with the family name, rather than the first name. The suffix ji added to a name indicates respect.

Gift Giving: This is big business in India. Gifts are exchanged for the hundreds of festivals and holidays, births, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other occasions. When visiting or invited to dinner, it is customary to take along a suitable gift. This is normally something sweet packaged with aplomb. Gifts are put away and not opened in view of the guests.

You do not gift leather products to Hindus, or alcohol to Muslims.

Women in IndiaDress Code: This is an extremely conservative society, especially so in the northern states. If you were dressed in shorts and an old t-shirt, you would be taken for a poor person who can’t afford full pants. It is important for women to be fully covered. An Indian salwar suit is ideal to beat the weather. The cities are more forgiving and anything decent is acceptable. However, women should still avoid short shorts and mini skirts as harassment on the city streets is quite common. For business meetings, a suit is appropriate. For men, a business suit is mandatory.

Dining Etiquette: Indian food is best enjoyed with your hands, and cutlery may not be provided in most places. However, in upmarket restaurants, cutlery will be provided and you will be expected to use it to keep the upmarket image intact. If eating with your hands, it is important to not sully the entire palm area, but use only the fingertips to convey food to your mouth. Lowering your head may help you achieve this without too much trouble.

 south indian food
Photo by roland

You do not serve beef to Hindus or pork to Muslims. It is best to avoid alcohol in mixed company. Most North Indians are vegetarians and it would be rude to ask for meat when dining with them. Wait for all to be served before commencing to eat; normally in family situations, everybody waits for the elder to begin before they do. You are expected to finish everything on your plate, though some communities leave a small handful to go back to nature.

man in indiaVisiting a home: Visitors are welcomed even if they drop in unexpectedly. They are immediately invited in and made comfortable. You will be offered plenty of food and drink no matter what time of the day, and it is your job to eat what you possibly can. You will literally be treated like a god, according to traditional norms. Leave your footwear outside, even if they say it’s alright not to. Take a gift along for the children in the form of chocolates or candies.

Communication Style: This is a wee bit complicated since Indians almost never say no or contradict outright, as this is considered insulting. So while they may not commit to anything they’re not ready for, they might not tell you directly, giving you the impression that you’re half-way there when you haven’t even started.

Dos and Don’ts: Public display of affection is frowned upon. If you inadvertently touch anyone with your foot, apologize immediately as this is considered insulting. Beachwear is appropriate on the beach, but don’t even walk to your room without a robe or a towel wrapped around you. Getting agitated over delayed trains or bad roads will not get you anywhere as this is a way of life, and not considered an undue cause for inconvenience.

Photo of women in red clothing by Koshyk
Shiva photo by mattjkelley
Indian man with smile by zedzap

Short-term or long-term missions trips: How to choose which is right for you

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Long-Term Missions, Picking a Trip, Planning to Go, Short-Term Missions

Pile of SuitcasesThere are many people who dream of helping others and traveling the world. Both long- and short-term missions are great for this very reason. You can go just about anywhere for any length of time when you sign up for a missions trip, from an exotic location across the globe or right in your own state. So how do you decide whether to take a long or a short mission? Here are some points to consider.

Time to travel
When considering what type of missions trip you’re interested in, one of the first things you will want to consider is how long you can travel. If you have a job at home that you love and you do not want to leave it for good, then you need to look at a short-term mission. However, if you are not tied down to job, you are between jobs, or you are willing to quit, then a long-term mission is a possibility for you.

In addition, you may not be the type of person who likes to leave home for long periods of time. If that describes you, perhaps a short-term mission is best. If you are adventurous and don’t mind the idea of leaving the comfort of home for months or longer, then you should look at long-term missions.

Leaving it behind
When you sign up for a short-term missions trip, you will come back home fairly quickly. You do not have to worry about your home, pets or leaving family members behind for a long time. If you go on a long-term mission, these are all things to consider. You may not have the personality where you can leave it all behind for months or years, but you’ll need to factor what you’re leaving behind very carefully before choosing a mission.

Type of missions work
The next thing to consider is the actual type of mission work. Think this through carefully. Mission work is not an easy vacation, it is work and you will be expected to put in hours each day. Mission work is emotionally taxing and can cause high stress. You can certainly take a one- or two-week mission to build a church or help repair a school or homes. And that type of work, although difficult, will likely be easier than ministering to the very poor in a remote country for months on end.

You may not have the skills or inclination to work construction, but the idea of teaching or ministering may more closely match your interests and skills. These are all things to consider when choosing a mission.

Your calling
Of course, you may have a very specific mission in mind. You may feel it is your calling. In that case, think about your decision very carefully and talk to members of your church family who can help guide you through your decision-making. The decision to go on any length of mission should not be taken lightly.

Photo by malias

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