Marylou Townsend (Worldview Field Education)
“My short-term trip was a life-changing experience, but it made me aware of how completely unprepared I was for a career in cross-cultural ministry and of my need to grow into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. Worldview was a place that opened my eyes to the intricacies of different cultures and gave me skills that enable me to be more effective in cross-cultural work. It also provided a safe and nurturing space for me to develop my core identity in Christ at a foundational level.”
As Tracey discovered, short-term mission trips can reveal what you don’t know. Several other Worldview students have recently expressed a similar realisation and frustration at not being able to dialogue about God and Jesus while on mission trips to the Middle East and Central Asia. Local people are very open to talk about spiritual things, but Sunday School teaching and sermons don’t necessarily equip you to explain the good news. It is vital to have more than a devotional understanding of the Bible. Studying it rigorously for yourself, with teachers who have had cross-cultural ministry experience, provides a good foundation to help you to be more effective in a cross-cultural environment.
Character is so important in the Christian life. Issues in your home country may only be magnified in a cross-cultural situation. Taking time to learn more about yourself, allow healing to take place, and put in place rhythms and practices which help to nurture your spirit, are all possible alongside study; and these will all help you to last the distance.
Living as a community is part of the training ethos at Worldview. Statistics indicate that the challenge of working in a team is one of the reasons for missionary attrition. Living closely in community gives you a chance to experience that before leaving your home country. People from different cultures have different ideas about time, hospitality, cleanliness, communication styles, concepts of leadership. These topics can be discussed and differences handled rather than avoided, when living in community.
Two weeks a year at Worldview is designated for short-term mission. Mission teams may stay in Tasmania or go to the mainland. There is also the potential to join a WEC STOMP team or a Worldview staff-led overseas mission team. I grew up in Epping, Sydney, but being part of a mission team to Auburn - different suburb, same city - was a real eye-opener. One of the benefits of a short-term mission trip while studying is the opportunity it gives you to compare theory to practice. It is very interesting to examine different church planting strategies, but quite another thing to experience how it works in real life.