When I sit back, close my eyes and dream big dreams, I picture speakers impacted by Next Step speaking in front of women from every nation, tribe and tongue. It tickles me pink to know that dream is slowly coming to fruition! I have clients heading out all over the world this summer on mission trips with their church or local ministries.
In November of 2011, some of my friends from Encouraging Words and I headed to India to lead two women’s conferences. It was completely life-changing for me, and I pray that I was able to bring lasting encouragement to the women at our conferences.
Although it was an amazing experience, it also was a huge learning curve, so I thought I’d gather some advice for those of you who may be heading out of the country on a missions trip this year. My friends who traveled to India with me–Barry (our one brave man!), Peggy, Nanette and Cathy–sent me these fabulous tips to pass on to you. Some pertain to speakers, and others can be used in any missions circumstance.
- Paul said, ” To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (I Cor. 9:22) BE WITH the people you’re ministering to. If they’re barefoot, then you be barefoot. If they eat with their fingers, then you eat with your fingers. If they sit on the floor, then you sit on the floor. Talk, laugh, hug, relate, play, join in!
- Pray for the Father’s heart to embrace your heart. Pray to see, hear, feel, hurt, love, and understand the people as He does.
- Bring some small, inexpensive gifts for your hosts and others. Be gracious, because they always are. You’ll find even very poor people who are overwhelmingly generous and hospitable, and you’ll long to bless them too.
- Be prepared for culture shock, jet-lag, sensory-overload and physically demanding shedules that sap every bit of your physical and emotional energies. See this as a precious opportunity to lean on God’s unending strength and empowerment like never before!
- Know the appropriate dress in a given country, but also make sure to know the weather and dress comfortably. (That was my friend Cathy’s great tip, and I’m going to add something that might seem gross…. Think about clothing that will be easy to handle in “challenging” bathroom situations. I’m just keeping it real. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.)
- Know your audience. Research on-line, in books and by interviewing people so you understand the culture, religion, politics, economy, needs of the people, etc.
- Use some of your research to make your message relevant to the culture to which you’re speaking. ie. I talked about the smells associated with funerals in one of my messages, so I talked about the smells you might smell at an American funeral vs. the ones at an Indian funeral.
- Connect on a deep, emotional level. Our team did a mock wedding after Nanette shared on being the bride of Christ. It was concrete, emotional and powerful!
Working with an Interpreter
- Develop a relationship with your translator. They are key to a successful message in a mission context. Our often made us better than we were! 🙂
- Give them access to your written notes beforehand so they know the content of your message before they translate “on the fly”. This allows them to ask your for clarification of particular phrases or words ahead of time.
- Remember a 30 min. message translated takes 1 hr. to give.
- Speak in phrases easy for the translator to repeat. If you say an entire sentence before pausing, it could be too long for the translator to remember and translate.
- Don’t look at the interpreter when you are speaking. Always keep eye contact with your audience and stay in the moment emotionally. Keep the intensity in your eye contact with the audience, and let the interpreter do the same. You’re working as a powerful team that way!
My friend Peggy sent a final and powerful piece of advice with which I’d like to end. It’s the heart of missions and the heart of God…
“I’m sure there are some distinctives about each culture that we should prepare for. But the primary thing I believe the Lord would have us to become is humble: to realize our own weaknesses, lacks, faults and needs, and to honor others as better than ourselves. So often we are so ready to teach, expound our opinions and our ingrained manners of thinking. We often overlook the wonder of the other person. We entirely miss what our Father is teaching us through that person He imagined into being.”
We also have a fun prize for today’s post! Next Step is partnering with Trades of Hope, an organization to sells fair trade products at home parties to help women world wide, to give away this beautiful scarf.
Here are the steps to enter to win this Nepali Aqua Scarf:
#1 Leave a comment on this blog. If you’ve done a missions trip, we’d love to hear your tips or where you went. If you haven’t, tell us a country you’d love to visit.
#2 “Like” https://www.facebook.com/SimoneCosterTradesOfHope
#3 Leave a comment on the above Facebook page. Done!
The last day to enter is July 1st at midnight. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on the July 2nd blog post.
For more information about Trades of Hope, click here.