This is part 2 in our interview with Gillian Newham, the author of Far from Cold. What question would you like to pose for Gillian?
Q: What would you recommend people consider once they have recognised a calling from God to be a missionary, particularly in a cross-cultural context?
The number one question is are you fulfilling the calling that God has given you right now, in your home, in your church, in your surroundings, in your job? Because I think some people can have a romantic idea of being a missionary and the first thing to look at is am I doing now what God is asking me to do, am I fulfilling the calling right now, where I am, what he has given me to do, in my home, in my church, in my job? So that’s my first question, to ask people to look at that in their own lives, and see, yes, I am already ministering, I am already involved in God’s work, but this call to be a missionary or to work cross-culturally is a new additional thing that God’s asking me to do, the next step.
So I think a great thing to do is to share that calling with other people, particularly close–to-you-people, particularly pastors in your life, mentors, or whatever they are, just share and say you know, I believe God’s calling me to go overseas to work as a missionary in a cross-cultural setting. Our personal experience is that we found that people were just like, absolutely, that seems like the next step for you, that seems like the right thing, so that was really confirmed for us by other people and I think that’s a testimony that a lot of people share, is that God confirms His call to them through the body of Christ, in that He has put us in the church and we are part of a body, so I think that is a great way to test that calling.
And then I would say in addition to that, look to get training and skills that will enable you to fulfil that calling of being overseas; look at cross-cultural training, look at opportunities to do language acquisition training (you know preparing before you learn language), look at have you got the skills that you need to be in that country and to fulfil the role that God’s asking you to be involved in. Very often these days (it wasn’t quite like it when we came overseas) but very often you need a practical skill, a Doctor or a Nurse or something, to be able to get a visa to be in some of these countries these days.
So I think those would be my things….to test your calling by checking with the body, letting God take you through some challenges to see is this really what God’s saying, because as I said at the beginning, people can have romantic ideas about working cross-culturally and being a missionary, and it’s not, it’s hard work, and you’ve got to know that that calling is real, because when everything is really tough, and you hate being there, and you hate the people, and that’s all you’ve got to hold on to, you need to know clearly this is what God’s asking me to do.