Remember Your Baptism– When you were baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” you received the most important things you’ll need on the mission field. At your Baptism, God gave you an identity as His precious and dearly loved child. He gave you His Name to call upon in every trouble. He gave you faith to trust in His promises. He gave you His Holy Spirit to sanctify you in the one true faith. Your Baptism is the single most valuable thing you’ll take with you on your journey. Don’t forget it!
Confess Your Sins– Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to leave him behind, you’ll also be taking your old Adam with you to the field. The child of God continues to struggle with sin on this side of the resurrection, and as a missionary, there are certain sins that you are more prone to commit than others. If you think you have no sins, you’re deceiving yourself! (1 John 1:8)
Consider your vocation as a missionary in light of the Ten Commandments. You might ask yourself some of these questions:
Am I acting like the mission belongs to me or to God? Do I trust God’s Word to do the work, or in my own abilities, personality, or strength? Do I want to make disciples of Jesus or of myself? Am I neglecting my own family for the sake of the mission? Do I view the people God has called me to serve as His valuable creatures worth the precious blood of His Son, or as potential “evangelism targets” or means for my “success” as a missionary?
Receive God’s Forgiveness – The good news is that “if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) When “in the stead and by the command of Jesus” the pastor forgives you all of your sins, God gives you a priceless going away present for your trip: a clean conscious. He sends you on your way with a clean slate and a fresh start. You can be certain that your sins have been removed from you as far as the east is from the west, and that you have been set free to serve without fear of punishment or pressure to get on God’s good side again.
Hear God’s Word of Law and Gospel – The Holy Scriptures are the only source and norm of our mission theology and practice, but they are more than a mission textbook or a handbook of missionary principles. The Scriptures are meant to be proclaimed and received in faith. “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
While you should most definitely be studying the Scriptures for wisdom and guidance for your upcoming service, you also need to hear the Word of God preached to you. When you listen to preaching that is faithful to God’s Word, you are listening to Jesus. Jesus Himself prepares you for your mission by coming to you with His words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
Confess Your Faith– The historic creeds of the Church will be one of the most useful tools for you on the mission field. The Greek word for “confess” means literally to “same the same thing as.” When we confess the creeds, we repeat back to God what we heard Him say to us in His Word. The creeds give you a concise and clear manner that has withstood the test of time, make sure you don’t leave home without them!
Pray– Do you feel stressed about packing? Overwhelmed by doctor’s appointments, passport applications, and travel vaccinations? Are you dreading the hard good-byes to family and friends? Are you nervous about the long list of unknowns that await you when you finally get there? “Cast all of your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” God tenderly invites you to pray to Him as a child asks his father with boldness and certainty.
Receive the Body and Blood of Jesus given and shed for you –When you take and eat “the body of Christ, given for you” and drink “the blood of Christ, shed for you,” you are receiving nourishment and sustenance you will badly need.
The foreign mission field is chock full of hiccups, hindrances, and hang ups. Operating in a second language in a foreign context can make even the most routine tasks exhausting. There will be so many hindrances and attacks of the devil and the world that you will often grow weary and stumble. Therefore, the Lord’s Supper is given as a “daily food and sustenance so that our faith may refreshed and strengthened.” (LC V 23)
Go in Peace!
As I hope to have made clear, the best way to prepare for missionary service is to be in God’s house, receiving the gifts of the Gospel in the Divine Service!