How to Survive on the Mission Field: Camping Out

Cookstove

After you have prayed and found the will of God on where you are to serve, we want you to succeed. So the next question is how are you going to succeed?

I believe it is important that you learn about camping out. Have you ever gone on camping trip? It’s a fun get away from normal, everyday life. The problem is that some missionaries go to the field with a “camping-out” mentality. Usually camping is a temporary situation in which you live in a tent, shower at a bath house and cook over a camp stove or fire, yet I know many missionaries who have the “camping-out” mentality and live this way for years! I had this mindset my first few years on the field.

My thought process was as follows:

“Since the world is going to hell, I must use all my resources on soul-winning and church planting. My family should live simply and temporary because we are not going to be here very long; as soon as we get a work going here, we will turn it over to the local leaders and move elsewhere.”

In our case we lived in sub-standard housing, used a Coleman cook stove and did not even have a working refrigerator. The results: my poor family almost did not make it. Then I found a Bible verse that really helped me understand some things:

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.”

– Proverbs 24:27 (KJV)

“Prepare thy work without.” This speaks of the work we are doing in the country or community to which we are called. We need to prepare our work. We do this by prayer and Bible study. Many times we study language and culture. We should have the highest quality of preparation possible.

“Make it fit for thyself in the field.” This is where I was dropping the ball. I had the “camping-out” mentality. I lived like that for years and saw several missionaries leave the field because of this mindset. “Making it fit” for you and your family out in the field means preparing a suitable home for them.

“And afterwards build thine house.” This means having a situation where you and your family can not only survive but thrive.

I will develop this concept in my next post.

3 Comments on “How to Survive on the Mission Field: Camping Out

  1. Dale,

    How wonderful to read this article! Many years ago you presented this same idea, way before our family served as workers in Russia. Your wisdom penetrated and stuck in our hearts and minds as we prepared and then immersed our family in the culture and lives of Russians. You are so right, camping is not effective and can become one of many ways to weaken a workers’ resolve to remain on the field when conflicts arise, and it will happen! Matt and I have thanked God for your wonderful teaching and we pray that others, even now will appreciate and heed the advise of your years and experience on the field.

    • Theresa,

      Thank you for those kind words. I am thrilled that some of my mistakes helped you and your family in your service.

      Blessings,

      Dale

  2. Pingback: How to Survive on the Mission Field, Part 3: A Sustainable Lifestyle | World Indigenous Missions

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