Tuesday, October 22, 2013

training // what we're walking away with, pt. 3

Our MTI training class family :)
In hopes that these posts would not be too long, we've split them up into more achievable lengths. To read about the beginning of our cross-cultural training, please read "what we're walking away with, part 2." 

In reference to thinking about our personal values & beliefs (from our previous post), as Americans, and as Christians, we had to explore when we should embrace a new culture's completely different values, and when we should protest them in our training. Of course, God's Word is absolute -- we must always conform to what the Word asks of us, even if it directly contradicts a culture that we are living in. Because when we obey God, we make a statement that He is trustworthy, loving, and in control; He is not vindictive, unpresent, or mean. Him giving us commands does not take away from His mercy or compassion or knowing of all things. We are just making the statement that He is God and we are not.

But what about the areas that the Bible is unclear on? For this, we explored the ministry of Paul.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23: Paul’s Use of His Freedom

"19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, 
to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. 
To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not 
under the law), so as to win those under the law.21 To those not having the law
 I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law 
but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak
 I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that 
by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel,
 that I may share in its blessings."

We learned that Paul was motivated to be spiritually fruitful, morally faithful, and culturally flexible. Conforming and embracing a new culture was permitted in his ministry when Christ-centered principles were not compromised; where he could enhance the unity for people he was sharing the gospel with. But he never violated his allegiance to Christ.

One of the values we are called to have as followers of Christ is to be people who take rest and keep the Sabbath. We spent an extended amount of time on this topic, and  had to ask ourselves this question, "We would never intentionally and maliciously break any of the other commandments, so why do we do it with this one?". We explored our tendency to overwork, especially coming from our culture in the U.S., and it's impact. It seems that even when our sole job is to work in ministry, we are so tempted to break this command that God has given us. God asks us to start our week in celebration and awe of what He has done... to start & work from a place of rest, not rest from a whole week of work. Taking rest & Sabbath is being obedient no matter what is convenient; it is declaring that we are marked and set apart for God. It was really beneficial for us to explore this often glazed over or forgotten concept with our classmates and trainers, especially to try to seek out why we personally act the way we do towards taking rest, and to help us see ways where we can actively place rest into our lives. The day that was devoted to learning this really taught us that everything, every bit of time and moment, doesn't have to be qualified & counted for. Disciplines of rest and play, even of taking time to see God's bigness and "wasting time" has it's own time, place, and function. (Luke 10:38-42, anyone?) BOY, did we need to hear that lesson. (Again.)

Our "Transition Bridge" exercise.
Another major topic of discussion during our lessons was transition and stress. Remember the crazy looking picture from our extras post? With that exercise, we were learning about the different phases of transition: settled to unsettled to chaos to resettling to new settled; and how our big transitions in life take at least 2 years to complete. Yep, years. And everyone will go through these phases at different times and paces. With transition, of course, comes great stress. Especially that tricky time of complete chaos that feels like you have no "normal", no sense of steadiness. For this, we learned about identifying different kinds of stressors (and how Jesus experienced these same kinds while on Earth), our personal signs & symptoms of stress, and how to make a plan for managing stress BEFORE it happens. Then, to take it to a whole other level of truly learning about ourselves under stress, we then had to undergo an intense high-stress simulation for about two hours. It was amazing what we learned about ourselves when simulating a situation of what you do when the unthinkable happens directly to you.

Amazing what all they can fit into just two weeks, huh? We were so floored by the reality of what is soon to be happening in our lives and all of these multiple facets of our new lives, that we are just so thankful for amazing trainers that have so much experience in both decades of mission work personally and in years of teaching so many other training classes. Without their passion, authenticity, and real, honest, open stories of all of these lessons and principles having to be put to use, we would not have learned half as much as we did. Thank you so much to all of the staff at Mission Training International to being so committed to teaching each and every person that comes to learn from you.

Please stay posted on even more that we learned from our training there. More, you say? Yes, even more.


If you'd like to read more blogging from our classmates:
- "Embracing Inefficiency", by the Janicek Family
- "Missionary Boot Camp", by Alexis
"Entry Posture", by The Russell Family

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