1. Train yourself now to listen
The most valuable thing you can be in another culture is a student, learning the culture and your neighbors. This is unarguably the best way to earn respect as well as understand how to serve the culture best. They have lived here a lifetime, you just arrived.
2. You bring more baggage than what you check on the plane. Suspend judgement.
The best one liner I received in being mentored: Different is not bad or weird. Different is different. You travel the world with your own experience, culture, family, social status, race, value system, and worldview. Check your judgement at the door. Observe first. What is cultural and what is biblical? Only that which contradicts the Bible is necessary to challenge. Like listening, train yourself to do this now.
3. Prepare for the highest highs and the lowest lows
Another beautiful trinket of knowledge I received, simply because of how true it is. In those lowest moments, you can cling to the reality of how high you get to go as well. Even better: our lowest lows easily turn into our highs, just as Paul promised in Scripture. It is when we are weak – and you’ll be weak – that we are strong.
4. Don’t wait for a visit from an angel to get going
One of the best tricks of our enemy is that being a missionary is a special calling saved for a reserved few. Don’t get stuck waiting on a sign. It’s not a special calling to wait for – if you aren’t supposed to go, God (who created the universe and all) is pretty good at stopping things that shouldn’t happen. Mission organizations are great at processes to find the right people (applications, interviews), as well as prayer. If you’re considering it, start talking to organizations now.
5. Pray like your life depends on it
Because it does. Pull in everyone you know and have a group of prayer warriors, update them on a consistent basis. Pray for your physical health and your spiritual health, pray for the ability to listen and His strength in the lowest lows. Pray in thanks for what you get to do and pray in repentance for how you fail as you try. Pray for your neighbors, pray for your country. Pray for each step you’re planning to take – do you want a mission built on anything else? Prayer is key to mission, and we under emphasize it way too often as a culture. You’ll quickly learn that the importance of prayer is being stripped of much which leads you into deeper realization of the one thing you depend on: Him.