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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Preparation for the Work

“ was an act of consummate folly for anyone to proceed to the mission field without professional as well as theological training. He was convinced that as well as a good theological foundation missionaries needed training in cross-cultural communication, missionary anthropology, the history and theology of missions, world religions and contemporary issues. He believed the time had come to call a halt to the unsatisfactory procedure of sending out missionaries who were not adequately prepared. He stated, ‘We should do our very best to send out fully qualified missionaries. Anything else is unfair to the national churches and dishonoring to the Lord.” “If missionaries are sent out without adequate preparation the consequences can be disastrous on themselves, their families and their ministry. The high rate of attrition among missionaries is proof of that. Many go out without being warned before hand of the difficulties they may face. They are unable to speak the language. They have little understanding of the culture and the way things should be done. They experience the pressures of isolation and hostility. They see little response to their ministry. They find it difficult to get used to the climate. They succumb to local ailments. Sickness, fatigue and discouragement take their toll, and eventually they return home dispirited and disillusioned. In the worse cases they remain spiritual cripples for the rest of their lives, condemned by their own sense of failure.” “The families of missionaries also may suffer unnecessarily during their time over seas if they are given insufficient pre-field training and orientation. Wives sometimes have no idea of what it will be like to run a home and raise a family in a foreign country.” “A thorough program of cross-cultural training will not remove all these problems, but it will help missionaries and their spouses to prepare themselves and anticipate what may lie ahead.” “Too many families have suffered because they were given insufficient preparation for missionary service; too many marriages have ended in divorce; too many wives have suffered break downs or depression; too many children carry scars of bitterness because no one ever cared about their feelings. The burden of responsibility for providing adequate preparation rests with the churches and mission agencies which send them out.” “It is not only the missionaries who suffer if they are given inadequate preparation for cross cultural service, the people to whom they are sent also suffer.” David Harley, Preparing to Serve. Training for Cross Cultural Mission. (William Carey Library, Pasadena, California 1995) p 7

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