Time Flies When You're Training To Be a Missionary
But it doesn't fly fast enough! We are loving it here at the MTC, our classes are so full of wisdom from missionaries who have gone before us. We are so convinced that we need this training because when we get oversea's we want to be excellent in the ministry we have and we want to communicate clearly the message of God's son. But we always feel an urgency as each day many from the 2,500 language groups that have not heard the good news slip into a Christless eternity.
What keeps us from leaving right now and going to one of these language groups? We feel that it is essential to be equipped for this task. Many missionaries come off the field each day because they were not trained well for the task. Even more missionaries are not grounded in the Word for themselves or they fail to lay ground work in the Tribe by building relationships with the people, studying their culture and beliefs and becoming fluent in their language. Interpersonal relationships, health issues, failure to learn language, sin, bad Bible translations, all of these things and more pull people from the task. Although we realize there could be something very legitimate that might take us from the field someday, our desire is to see a Church planted. There are people's lives in the balance and we do not take that lightly. New Tribes Mission doesn't either, that is why we have spent the last 4 years in training for this, so we can be there for the long haul.
We are being trained by people who have been there, people who know how hard this will be, people who have struggled themselves, people who got lonely, people who lost loved ones on the field, people who trusted the Lord, people who have failed, and people who have succeeded. One of the things that stands out to me that we keep hearing over and over from our trainers is that we HAVE to be grounded in God's word and have a strong relationship with Him. The only way we will succeed in planting a thriving church is if God Himself is working through us. We are fragile, incapable human beings, without Christ we WILL fail.
One of the essential classes we have been in this semester is Worldview. It was taught to us by George Walker who planted a Church among the Bisorio Tribe in Papua New Guinea many years ago. The Bisorio church is thriving to this day and the people themselves are actively teaching neighboring tribes of the good news. The Bisorio church is a great example of what we would like to accomplish overseas. In order to do this though we will have to be able to examine worldviews.
If you are not familiar with worldviews here is a quote from George "A worldview contains core assumptions about the nature of reality, including origins, who man is and how he sees himself relating to every aspect of life. These core assumptions are part of a network of interconnected assumptions primarily derived from stories that form the lens through which one sees life."
When we get to the tribe it will be extremely important to be able to analyze the worldviews of our people group. Most tribal groups are animistic, meaning they believe in spirits that are connected to many things around them. In order to do well in life they must appease these spirits and most people groups live in constant fear of them. Often they will worship these spirits and believe that the sun is their creator. If we failed to determine what these core assumptions about life were and just came in and told them about Jesus, we will have failed to communicate clearly. At best they will just add this Jesus to their list of spirits to worship and appease and they will not clearly understand the truth. It's so important for us to understand what specific areas of their beliefs are contrary to Scripture so that we can tailor our teaching to lay a solid foundation for the gospel and uproot their wrong thinking so they don't mix their animism with the truth.
Another great class we had this semester is phonetics. When we get overseas, we will have to learn a new language in order to communicate with the people we are ministering to. Often times the languages that we are trying to learn will have sounds that we do not make in English. Most of these languages have never been written before. There is no alphabet and no one can read or write their own language. It will be our job to make an alphabet for them after we have learned the language and teach them to read and write, so that when we finally translate the Bible into their language they will be able to read it for themselves (and teach it to others!). In class we are learning to recognize all the different speech sounds that the human mouth makes, and we're learning how to write those sounds and say them ourselves. This class is going to speed up our language learning and help us sound more native once we get the language down. Other missionaries who have taken these classes have testified to how helpful it was for them on the field and how it sped up their language learning a lot.
There are so many awesome classes, but those are two that have really stood out to us that we wanted to share with you. We are enjoying soaking up the training. It is so clear to us how valuable having the right training is for missionaries.
We are excited to be a part of what God is doing through Tribal Missions!