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
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?