Spiritual attacks often accompany culture shock. You have invaded the enemy’s territory, and he is not going to give up without a fight.
One of his attacks is to bring severe despondency while on assignment. Little things can creep into your mind and become a constant irritation. Relational problems can develop, often over small differences of opinion. Fears may crop up that hinder your work. Resolve not to be a victim! Recognize problems for what they are, and deal with them in the power of the Holy Spirit so they do not interfere with your work in missions.
Spiritual attacks may also come in the form of health problems. These are usually limited to temporary illnesses due to changes in water and food, but they can still impair the work of spreading the gospel. Such ailments do not ordinarily last long, and the body adjusts to the changes. A stomachache does not signal a life-threatening disease. We will help if you experience health problems.
Whatever the attack, combat it through prayer. Set aside daily prayer times alone with God. He is far greater than the enemy, and He will help you emerge victorious over your fears.
An important part of spiritual preparation for your assignment is to place yourself under the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Your term of service will only be as fruitful as the extent to which the Holy Spirit has control of your life. Let Him work in and through you to develop a meaningful witness and to direct every aspect of your life.
Prayer is still God’s method of accomplishing His work, so be a prayer warrior. Open communication with God is necessary before trying to work for Him. This assignment, if bathed in daily communion with the Lord in prayer and Bible study, can be the most enriching experience of your life.
Guard against overtaxing your strength. In the excitement of being in a new place with new responsibilities, many people drive themselves far beyond their physical endurance. This brings on fatigue that often leads to illness. Either one will sap your strength and hinder your usefulness in the task to which you are called. So use good judgment, and don’t overdo it. Pay attention to your body’s need for physical exercise, nutritious food, and plenty of sleep. Heed the missionary’s instructions regarding local foods and drinking water.
You are, first and foremost, a witness and messenger of Jesus Christ in cross-cultural situations.
Dress and Conduct
Men may wear t-shirts or button-up shirts, jeans or khakis.
In America, it is considered indecent for women to be bare-breasted. In the Maasai culture, it is considered indecent for women to show the outline of themselves from the waist down. This is an African cultural issue. It is not a “holiness” or religious issue. Other tribes, especially in the cities do not have this outlook. Since the Maasai are our primary calling, we never want to offend or set-up unnecessary barriers to them hearing the Gospel.
Women are asked to wear skirts throughout the ENTIRE time in Kenya (even when on safari or city shopping), in order not to bring offense. We are there as ministers of the Gospel, not as tourists. Our comfort or opinions are not priority. Sharing the Gospel of Jesus IS priority.
Long, wide-bottomed skirts are best for movement, as there is much climbing in and out of vehicles. It is ideal if they have pockets—you can carry wet wipes, tissue and hand sanitizer with you at all times.
Women should keep “modesty” in mind—avoiding the thin strapped tops. Slips or leggings may be necessary under skirts.
Ladies, if you are not a usual “skirt wearer,” may we suggest that you find garments in a modest style and color that appeals to you. And then, “do it as unto the Lord and not unto men.”
Gals may wear pants during your flights.
The privilege of being a missions team member places a solemn responsibility upon each one to walk worthy of his or her calling to missionary service, no matter how short the assignment. This includes abiding by the standards and behaviors sanctioned by the Assemblies of God within the United States even in cross-cultural settings. Therefore, you are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages while overseas, regardless of the social situation you may find yourself in.
Team members are expected not to date a national or an American while on the field. Your purpose for being overseas is to serve alongside the missionary family, not to find your spouse. Be friendly with everyone, but romantically involved with no one. If you feel you are becoming romantically involved, discuss your feelings with your supervising missionary immediately, seeking his or her counsel.
Adoption of Children
Volunteers should not consider a missions trip as an opportunity to pursue the adoption of a child.
Speaking Through an Interpreter
The language barrier need not be a big problem in a public speaking ministry. If you need to speak through an interpreter, observe the following:
- Smile—not a forced smile, but one that reflects your natural joy in Christ.
- Speak to and look at the audience, not the interpreter.
- Speak loudly enough to be heard.
- Gesture naturally as you speak, but do not overdo it.
- Be brief, remembering that a five-minute testimony is really ten minutes long when given through an interpreter.
- Testify in short statements, pausing for the interpreter to keep up with you.
- Limit your testimony to what Christ has done for you, how much you love Him, and what He can do for them.
- Close with a verse of Scripture.