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

By David Harakal

Thriving in Cross-Cultural Ministry

Installment 9: Leaving, Article 3 of 3

The Six Months Prior to Departure

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 missed the first of the Leaving series, or would like to see all three parts in one place, visit


  • Confirm visa requirements.
  • Get cash. Call your bank to make sure they have what you need
    • Get some local currency before you leave, if possible.
    • Always have some global reserve currency, e.g., 100 USD or 100 EURO).
  • Contact credit and debit card providers. Notify them of your travel plans.
  • Pack your bags at the beginning of this week. Lock all but one checked bag. Live out of this bag and your carry on(s) this week. (See packing suggestions at
    • Weigh luggage with straps and locks.
    • Ensure bags are less than airline limits (their scales might differ).
  • Reserve your final week for family and your closest friends.
  • Rest!
  • Do not cancel your cell phone yet.


  • Confirm flights
  • Confirm who will take you and at what time they will collect you.
    • Consider traffic.
    • Plan to arrive three hours before departure.
    • If your driver is known to run late, schedule pickup 30 minutes early.
    • If you tend to run late, plan to leave 30 minutes earlier.
  • Confirm who will pick you up.
    • Get a local address and phone number—this is often needed at passport control.
    • How do you get your visa?
    • Any tips to navigating the airport?
    • Have at least one local person’s number in your phone.
    • Where will you meet them? Where will you wait if they are delayed?
    • Ensure they will have a vehicle that will hold all of your luggage (and you!).
  • Do laundry. Make sure everything is thoroughly dry before you repack them.
  • Make sure you have your travel cash and documents.
    • Make a copy of your passport information page, visa, driver’s license, and international driver’s license. They often want these at passport control.
    • Keep a photo of these documents on your phone and the phone of anyone traveling with you, plus someone in your home country.
  • Do not cancel your cell phone yet.


  • Arrive at the airport at least three hours before departure
    • This is not the time to miss flights and inconvenience many people who are helping you.
  • Have your passport, visas, etc. readily available.
    • The person who checks you in will need these.
    • Be thoughtful—be ready before you get to the desk.
  • Empty your water bottle before you go through security.


  • Do you need to get a sim card at the airport?
  • Do you need to exchange cash?

This can be a sad, confusing, frustrating season. Planning ahead will help. If you are not a planner, ask a friend who is to help you. Start to accept the help of others.

Learn to listen selectively.

Some will encourage you, affirm you, and celebrate your plans. Embrace these comments.

Some will not understand what you are doing, and may even condemn you. Love them anyway. Accept their comments even though you disagree. When Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34) he modeled this mindset for times like this. People genuinely do not understand.

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.

Related Articles

Welcoming the Stranger

Presenter: Matthew Soerens, US Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief Description: Refugee and immigration issues have dominated headlines globally recently. While many American Christians view these…


Upcoming Events