This is one of best articles I’ve ever read about assumptions in missionary work entitled, “What missionaries wish they had known before going overseas.” It’s full of wisdom and good advice. Happy reading!

Regarding spiritual warfare: “Working in a foreign field is the same as being in a war. I know. I’ve fought in both and the similarities are striking. There is not much glorious about warfare. It may look exciting on TV or in the movies, but in the trenches it’s real life, and people get hurt and die. It’s a lot of hard work, sloshing thru the rice paddies. It stinks. And the enemy has ambushes everywhere. Often you can’t tell the enemy from the friendly. And your friends get injured and killed. It hurts.”

Regarding your team: “Never assume that you and your colleagues are going to be one big happy family. Generally you cannot choose who you are going to work with and no one is going to hit it off with everybody. So you may find that your colleagues have different interests and backgrounds that you cannot relate to well. You may find that they do things that are quite irritating to you. You may find some of your colleagues to be quite carnal, having major problems with anger, critical spirit, gossiping, etc. Good relationships take a lot of time and effort. I would say that it is just as important, if not more so, to spend time ‘bonding’ with your colleagues as well as bonding with the nationals.”

Regarding language acquisition: “Language learning is a long process. Most North Americans have never learned a language and do not understand the time, work, and patience needed. Even some missionaries don’t see the importance of learning the language. Most adults do not know how to handle the humiliation of learning a new language…Many people in my language school suffered from loss of identity and inferiority. These were well-educated people who had been successful in their occupations back home…They didn’t understand that learning a language is a completely different animal than making good grades in history or nursing. Being ‘smart’ does not guarantee that you will automatically find learning language easy.”