You absolutely don’t want to leave this one out.
Who does not hate to pack? The idea of moving and traveling sounds great, but packing is an awfully daunting process. As I prepare to leave for my missionary journey, I’m trying to get the necessary items beforehand such as clothing for both warm and cold weather conditions, spices my taste buds won’t do without, and so on and so forth.
It wasn’t until I attended the Candidate Orientation Program (COP) with Pioneers inAsia that I realised it is more than the material stuff that needs to go in my suitcase. I need to pack my spiritual suitcase too!
Packing is stressful but crucial. If you don’t pack the necessary items in your suitcase, your trip will be ruined. The same applies to spiritual packing. But, how do you know what to pack in your spiritual suitcase when going on a mission field? What exactly do you need?
Well, here’s a list of essentials I’d be packing in my spiritual suitcase:
1. Missionary Resilience
Missionary resilience is indispensable. Plenty of it is needed on the mission field because there will always be unexpected setbacks. But what’s important is how fast we bounce back to normalcy and continue to be functional.
As a teenager, I had endless complaints about everything painful in my life. Over slightest of discomfort, I would fight with God in my prayers asking how He could allow such a thing to happen to me. It was only later, as I grew mature in Christ, that I understood the significance of painful days and experiences in a believer’s life. It’s the difficult times that mold us to His liking.
2. Knowledge of Self
The more I know myself, the more I understand my strengths and weaknesses. It empowers me to do what I can do best. However, the art of knowing oneself also entails knowing where we stand in our relationship with God. It’s a huge part of our identity in Christ.
That being the case, before you leave, ask yourself questions like who you are in Christ and what brings you to your mission field. Answers to such questions would be an absolute treasure to bring with you in your suitcase. If you ever feel lost, knowing the answers will give you the strength to move forward in your journey.
3. Mental Health and Spiritual Health
I know mental health is a sensitive topic but it’s really important. I have traveled cross-culturally without knowing a thing about culture shock or its impact on my life. I don’t quite remember how I dealt with it in the past, but I certainly know how it will be dealt with in the future.
Culture shock adds heaps to your already existent stress which can drain life out of you fairly quickly, and that affects your spiritual health too. Therefore, it is important that we keep our first aid handy. The key is to replenish your energy as soon as you realise it’s depleting. I’d suggest packing some kindness and grace in your suitcase, solely reserved for yourself.
4. Prayer Support System
You absolutely don’t want to leave this one out. Pack as much support as you possibly can. There is no way you want to run out of it on the field because it’s your lifeline. It is not to be compromised. Therefore, before you leave make sure to have a group of people (church friends, family, mission agency, etc) supporting you through their prayers as you work in your mission field.
Well, this was my take on the COP training. I see it as a way to spiritually prepare and equip myself for the service of the Lord. I hope you didn’t find packing a spiritual suitcase with me as intimidating as packing an actual one.