Thriving in Cross-Cultural Ministry – Leaving, Article 1 of 3

By David Harakal

Thriving in Cross-Cultural Ministry

Installment 7: Leaving, Article 1 of 3

… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

– Philippians 4:6-8

Remember, if you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail.

– Reverend H. K. Williams

Please help me select a title for the book these articles will become:

Reminder: Your fellowship, sending organization, or team may not align with my advice. Trust your leaders as you respectfully share what you learn.

If you prefer to see this entire section in one document, visit

This is a hectic time. Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” I know I am not there yet, but the point is important. Do not neglect your Sabbaths, time with the Lord, daily fun time, and time with people. Build those into your schedule. If you have not used a calendar, start now.

As rude as it may sound, schedule start and end times for visiting with people, and be clear that you need them to honor those times. If they are late, your time will be cut short. Consider having friends help you pack or shop. You will enjoy time together, accomplish a task, and have someone to provide ideas or help make decisions.

The time line below assumes you have the tasks completed by the time in the section title. For example, between the “Six Months” list and the “Three Months” list, you are working on the items you need to have done three months prior to departure.

Maintain your answered prayer journal. You might just fill it up!

A note on planning: It is not uncommon for a Visa to arrive late, for flights to be disrupted, for delays with your receiving team. Do not waste this delay! If God gives you extra time, use it. Do that thing you have been meaning to do. (Read a book, write a book, paint a picture, run a marathon, get in shape, take a cooking class, . . ..)

Remember to rest. Build it into your calendar. Plan enough to fill your day, not over-fill it.


  • Confirm your passport is valid for a year after you plan to leave. If not, apply for a new one.
  • Do you need to arrange a visa in advance? If so, how long does it take to acquire? Do you need to start now?
  • Give your employer adequate notice.
  • Plan a vacation! Go someplace on your bucket list in the next few months.
  • Plan your packing, selling, giving away room by room. This planning will relieve much stress. Do one room early to see how long it takes, and then plan for the rest of the apartment or house.
  • Finalize your “advocacy team” (or “A-Team” defined in the “Preparing” section) and start meeting with them to develop rapport and trust.
  • Assume that each visit (excluding your innermost circle) will be your last until your first home assignment.  You need “good goodbyes.”
  • If you do not have a credit card, find one you can get with no credit to establish a credit pattern. Purchase things on it every month and pay it off every month, to help you get a travel card later.

Watch for the second and third in this series in coming weeks.

If you want to learn more, dig deeper:

  • Foreign to Familiar by Sandy Lanier
  • Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
  • Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor
  • Getting Started: Making the Most of Your First Year in Cross-Cultural Service by Amy Young

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Reliant or any other entity with which he is affiliated.

Please share your thoughts on this topic in the full document: .

This article is part of a series. For prior articles, resources, and the author’s biography, visit

Books by this author:

This article is submitted by Reliant. Reliant is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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