Getting Started in Your First Year {and a giveaway}

Sep 3, 2019 | 17 comments

The impetus for Getting Started: Making the Most of Your First Year of Cross-Cultural Service began with a comment from Lisa, an online Velvet Ashes small group member. Offhandedly Lisa said that when she moved to Africa, she had not realized how responsible she would be for her relationship with God on the field. The ah-ha may have been inaudible, her comment clicking a truth into place in my mind: your relationship with God changes when you move to the field because you are responsible for it in ways you do not have to be when you are in your home country. At least initially.

If your takeaway from this post is a version of “Understood. Buy more devotionals, download more sermons. Got it,” I have failed to communicate the heart and the gift your first year offers you.

The simple reality is that most of us come from situations where it is easy to access God, as much as accessing the Maker of Heaven and Earth can be said to be easy. Likely, your relationship with God pre-field was nurtured through regular church attendance in a language you understood, coupled with some form of church or ministry involvement, spiritual practices, and deep in-person relationships. In this context, you knew how to feed yourself. You had annual rhythms and knew how to pace yourself. You had people to turn to in a pinch.

Over time you will have these in place, but during your first year you might not have the language or be in a context where it is safe or wise to attend a public church. Likewise, it often takes time for ministry opportunities to get up and running. On the other hand, your start on the field may fall closer to the other extreme, and you may become overwhelmed with ministry involvement in a new context.

Whether eager to dive in or trying to avoid being overwhelmed, you will still have to find ways to worship and be spiritually fed.

I wrote Getting Started to guide first year folks, maybe you, through the maze of their first year on the field. With storytelling and research, you will find encouragement, practical tips, and plenty of humor to help you navigate the unexpected cultural, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual aspects you’ll face.

Here’s a look at the Table of Contents:


1 — Before You Go

2 — Somewhere Between Awful and Amazing

3 — Welcome to You

4 — You Will Be Too (Something)

5 — Torn Between Worlds

6 — God and You

7 — New Relationships (But Not with People)

8 — Four Languages You Didn’t Know You’d Learn

9 — Culture and Team (Finally!)


As part of the celebration for Getting Started being published last week, three of you who leave comments will be drawn to win a copy that you can either keep or gift to someone.

What helped you Get Started?

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting cross-cultural work.




  1. Megann

    Excited about your new book! I don’t remember so well but I think the biggest thing that helped me get started was having a special group of nationals and a teammate who all let me be a part of their lives from the beginning.

    • Amy Young

      Megann, what a great way to get started :)!!

  2. Mike Bishop

    After serving in cross-cultural work overseas for 32 years, I am now in a position to help those in our church who would seek overseas ministry. This book sounds like a great start-up book to help through that first year (or so) as everything new (and sometime the old stuff not dealt with) can be overwhelming.

    • Amy Young

      Mike, I think it would help!

    • Bethany T

      Really excited to see the description of this book! New folks have become a special interest of mine as we have had 2 sets of folks come overseas to my town and struggle. I hope to set a foundations to orient folks to help them remain. Thanks for sharing these thoughts for future new folks and current folks to remain well.

  3. Angie

    Having a weekly time to worship, pray, and study together with other English-speaking believers helped.

  4. Stephanie

    Can’t wait to read! Very necessary topic!!

  5. MaDonna

    I think what helped me my first year was living with a group of ladies who had been living there. One roommate was a MK and taught me how to make pretty much everything. When I got married, she gave me a copy of a cookbook that her mother had used. I still use it to this day. The other roommate was from South Korea – it was a good year of learning cross-cultural work with such a gracious lady.

  6. Spring Davis

    I do wish I had this book on my first year. I had ideas and nothing that happened met my expectations. I am excited to read what you have put so much work into

  7. Ali

    We had amazing team members who really walked us through those first weeks and continued to check in on us. It was not easy but we were supported and built a lasting relationship.

    • Amy Young

      Team can make such a difference! So glad yours was amazing 🙂

  8. Amy Young

    Thanks all! Winners have been selected and notified. With blessing, Amy


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