by Will Rogers
When thinking about training to be a missionary, it can feel overwhelming. You may not know where to start when it comes to medical missionary training. I recommend starting with the things that you can do on your own, right now, to help prepare you for serving God as a medical missionary. I’ll cover three vital ways here. Let’s get started.
How do spiritual disciplines affect your ability to do the work God has called you to? Don’t miss this step in preparing to serve. This step will drive every other step you take.
Here are just a few spiritual disciplines you will want to cultivate both to start and as you continue this journey:
Bible study: learn how to study scripture without study guides, sermons, tapes, and so on. On the field, the missionary needs to hear from God through Bible study on your own. You may not have access to a pastor in some remote locations. So, cultivate a relationship with God through His Word now and as you go forward.
Prayer: This not only means talking to God but listening to His voice through the Holy Spirit and His Word. Read about prayer and study now as you can for how to point people you serve to God through prayer.
Fasting: developing a deep longing for God by withholding food or an essential element of your daily life for God. We don’t talk about this much. But, it’s important in serving God to be ready and commit to times of fasting when necessary to help know God and point others you’ll be serving to Him.
Worship: Please don’t neglect worship. This may mean attending services locally. But, if that isn’t feasible, how will you daily worship God? Be sure you’re setting aside time and committing to a rhythm of worship to God. What you do now will be what you take to the field with you. Cultivate a rhythm of worship now.
Fellowship: are you around other believers? Be sure you are not neglecting this in your quest to serve. We are not meant to do this life alone!
Journaling: In your alone time, be sure you’re working through your prayers and thoughts and keeping a journal of your reflections. This can be a powerful way to look back and see God at work in your life in the downtimes, as well as an encouragement in the good times!
Scripture memorization: this is vital. You must learn to hide His Word in your heart. This will be one of the most important things you do as a missionary. You will need to point those you serve to God. The best way to do that is by knowing His Word.
If emotional instability remains in your heart and mind, that can certainly affect your time on the mission field. You need to have a firm foundation from which to draw as you walk your medical missions journey. Be sure you have a rhythm to your care. In caring for others all of the time, you’ll want to not neglect yourself so much that it slows you down in serving others.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself in preparation for serving:
How/why do I make the decisions I make? To please people, to live up to unrealistic standards I set for myself – can I say no? Do I ever say no to requests to help others?
What are the unhealthy ways I self-soothe? What is my go-to idol(s)? How do I stay balanced? Do I give myself permission to rest? Do I maintain a healthy lifestyle of diet, exercise, and so on?
Do I have a trusted community or individuals that I regularly connect with, share life with? Am I maturing spiritually? Am I growing in intimacy with Jesus? Can I share what I am learning from the Father this week?
What addictions are present in my life? What am I doing with pain and shame? What are unhealthy "themes" that hang around my life—fear, control, anger, abandonment, abuse, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, loss, grief, sadness, trauma, and so on?
Next, you can look at some basic missionary training guides. We recommend at least the following resources to start:
Resources library for medical missions: visit this site for audio, video, documents, and articles related to all types of healthcare specialties, health issues, and types of serving in all parts of the world.
Ask a real-life missionary: go here to find guidance on your calling, help with funding, family issues, missions agencies, skills and training, what’s life like overseas, and much much more.
Medical missions store: visit here to find all of our past catalogs for resources and help —all for free.
Online course: find our online course for making missions simple. This course helps you answer all of the questions you might have and walk through a purposeful practice of identifying each of the next steps in your missional journey. This is a multi-week course that was designed by all the top sending agencies in medical missions. It is full of practical steps and wisdom. It will lead you from the very beginning of your journey all the way to choosing an agency and preparing to head to the mission field.
As a last step, you can also begin reaching out to sending agencies directly. The GMHC exhibit hall is the perfect place to do this. We have our event happening virtually this year. Research beforehand and find out who you would like to connect with. Be prepared to live chat with agencies during the conference.
These are a few things you’ll want to do to feel confident you’re preparing as much as you can. The more you do these things now, the better you will feel knowing you’re serving God with all that you can, with all that you have. May God bless you as you start and as you continue training, networking, and pointing others to Christ with your life.