One thing I like to say, although often fail to practice, is that when trying to teach, one should aim for 50% Information and 50% Inspiration. Information can be gathered through research or personal experience, but Inspiration is a bit harder to attain. I think it is partly a work of God, but also a personal passion, and skill in the art of communication.
With this in mind, I enjoyed the information and inspiration associated with the reading the recent book by Danny Lamastra “Pursuing the Call: A Practical Guide for New and Prospective Missionaries.” (Aneko Press, 2021). The work gives guidance, especially to those early in the journey, in being a vocational missionary. The guidance is tied to his own experience and early on, his personal story provides the structure for the book.
I appreciated his balanced and personal path into missions. While he described his own journey, he also talked about other paths he could have taken, but did not, especially pertaining to mission agencies and support. As one who trains future missionaries, I found his perspective quite helpful. My path was very different from his. He was a single mission candidate who joined a “faith-based” mission agency right out of college. I was married and never went through support raising, sent by my home church, and going into missions as a second (or arguably third) career. I believe Danny Lamastra’s presentation in terms of mission agencies and funding is pretty fair and balanced.
The second half of the book looks at some common issues that relate to new missionaries— issues that are commonly put under the labels of either Missionary Member Care or Missions Anthropology. These include culture shock, burnout, contextualization, spiritual discipline, and health, legal, and tax issues. The guidance is good and peppered with examples that make difficult ideas more clear. Many of the things the writer talks about I would have benefited from in knowing early back around 2003. As self-funded, church-sent missionaries, we kind of “winged it” in many ways. This book would have helped in many ways, especially in terms of health and legal issues.
Truthfully, there is little I would add or change. Maybe I would downplay the value of fasting as a Christian discipline (especially considering the mixed reviews of this practice I get from others and seeing how ambivalent the Bible is to this practice). Maybe I would say, do it if you find it valuable— otherwise, don’t. I would also caution that tithing to one’s local (in-the-field) church fully can be a bad idea if the church is small. Such a church can easily become dependent on the missionary’s giving. It may be better to split up one’s giving— after all, you can bring your tithe to more than one storehouse.
3F (Full-time, Fully funded, Forever) missions is not for everyone. But for those who suspect that God may be leading them on that path should definitely give this book a read.