Many years ago I heard about a pastor that was giving lots of advice to parents and newly married couples. From my perspective as a young married person and parent, I found some of his advice very strange. As it turned out, the pastor was neither a parent nor married. Several of my friends argued that it was fine that he was giving this kind of advice because he had studied marriage, parenting and the Bible. My response was to ask them if they would be willing to allow a medical student that had read the Bible and studied brain surgery to perform brain surgery on them. I told them I would prefer someone who had hands-on experience and not just book knowledge. They always thought I was being ridiculous to compare the two.

Your deep call is important but it is only one piece of the puzzle.
I do not feel I was being silly or out of context at all. As Christians we often think that our motivation and desire to do
something is all we need. While much can be said about a deep internal calling, preparation should always accompany that deep call. After serving in the field of International Ministry for more than 20 years I feel very strongly that Missions is one area where the Church often sends lambs to the slaughter. Cross-cultural ministry is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. At the same time it was one of the most difficult things I have ever participated in as well.

I cannot imagine serving in Haiti all of those years without the training I received at h.e.a.r.t. in 1984. It was h.e.a.r.t. that taught me to work myself out of my job. It was at h.e.a.r.t. where I learned basic midwifery skills, how to take blood pressures and make rehydration solution. I learned ideas like intensive gardening and composting. H.e.a.r.t. was the place I relied on for resource support while on the field. The program taught me principles of community development that grew with me as I worked with others. Like all other professionals, Christian Missionaries and development workers need to have training that is relevant to their tasks and living conditions. This is what h.e.a.r.t. provided for me and my family before serving overseas. Did it equip me with all I need? Of course not. But it did give me a solid foundation of principles, skills and understanding on which I could build. It gave me tools to use that allowed us to learn language more quickly and adjust much faster than expected.

My advice to those feeling called to cross cultural ministry is this: Get training. Come to h.e.a.r.t or go somewhere else, but don’t go to the field without being trained. Your deep call is important but it is only one piece of the puzzle. The training I received at h.e.a.r.t. was invaluable for me in ministry. Maybe it’s just the thing you need, too, for effective and long-lasting impact.

Post by Phil Murphy