Mission Immersion, a ministry of Nazarene Missions International (NMI), is held every two years in a different country for high school students from around the globe who have a definite call to serve in a culture other than their own.
In July 2012, 42 youth from the U.S., Canada, Europe and South Africa met in Kenya for more than a week of mission simulation and learning within the cross-cultural context. Several youth wrote about their first-hand experiences for Engage magazine.
Nairobi, Kenya -- If any of us came to Kenya expecting to find out that the missionary’s life is always glamorous and adventuresome, the first task on our plate revealed the truth.
It had seemed so simple at first. On July 16, the first day of our Mission Immersion trip, our group of 42 high school students formed small teams to experience a simulation of how missionaries must navigate the many demands on their time.
We were given a list of required ministry tasks and events and were told to balance them throughout a 30-day calendar alongside personal time with God and family. It didn’t seem too difficult.
However, more and more tasks were quickly piled onto the heap. Unexpected and unannounced events such as training seminars, weddings, and other engagements came up and they became priority. Before long, there were more tasks than there was time, and we were forced to prioritize.
“It stood out to me how many things can go wrong due to unexpected occurrences,” said Wesley Morris, a Mission Immersion participant from Topeka, Kansas.
Our day’s leaders, Rachel Kuhn, Rev. Gavin Fothergill, and Dr. Rod Reed – all who are current Nazarene missionaries -- spoke about what job tasks they are required to accomplish each month. Each individual described aspects of his or her job that are exciting as well as those that are tedious and harder to pursue.
Afterward, we discussed the scheduling simulation. Our teams had discovered the importance of working hard and fulfilling obligations, while having the strength to delegate tasks and make other arrangements.
Not my will, but Your will
During a group devotion time, Kuhn (photo left) spoke to our group about the many forms of God’s will. As she told the story of her life and growth in the Lord, she shared about her call to missions. She had thought being a missionary would mean moving to a brand new culture and be involved in sharing the Gospel.
However, when the time came, she was contacted by Extreme Nazarene Ministries for an administrative position that was based in the United States. God was calling her to stay. Rather than her idea of going and ministering, He was calling her to stay and make it possible for other people to travel out onto the field.
Yet, after she accepted this call, she was met with many confirmation experiences. She related the story of her younger sister, Natalie Jo Smith, and about how Natalie’s sudden death from a pulmonary thrombosis completely shook her reality. However, through that experience, God showed Rachel His power and wrapped His arms around her.
As we focused our day on mission “administration,” Rachel left the students and adults with a challenge: “God will work all things for the good of those who love Him, and it may not look anything like we expect! Pray for the good of God’s Kingdom, not your own desires.”
The students were left pondering the questions: Would I obey if God shook my view of missions work? Would I be willing to forgo my desires to fulfill His?
Importance of good health
Later in the afternoon, Verna Stanton, a missionary to Kenya, took the stage to speak to our group about how important our personal health is to our profession and ministry. Having graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a degree in nursing, she and her husband Daryll are now closing in on 30 years of missionary service. Stanton spoke about the highest ranking causes of death in high income, middle income and low income countries. She also touched on subjects such as nutrition, exercise and Body Mass Index (BMI).
Stanton’s message was eye-opening to some of the students.
"It was important that she said that missionaries need to stay healthy or we won’t be effective on the mission field,” said Julie Shreves, a participant from Bloomington, Illinois. “We don’t always think of that.”
Monday evening, everyone gathered once again in their small groups to reflect upon the day and the trip as a whole.
“It was interesting to hear their stories and about other options for pursuing missions besides overseas,” said participant Keila Galloway, from Avon, Indiana.
We realized that mission work encompasses a wide spectrum of opportunities and specifics roles and that God can use all of them for His glory. Though all of the behind-the-scenes tasks may not always be the ideal picture of excitement, Dr. Reed encouraged us, “There’s a great balance between what you have to do and what you love to do!”