Thriving in Cross-Cultural Ministry: Preparing, Part 2

By David Harakal

Thriving in Cross-Cultural Ministry

Installment 4: Preparing, Part 2

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

– Psalms 37:5

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

– Jim Elliot

Please help me select a title:

For part 1 of Preparing, covering the introduction and vision trip, visit

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 are raising support:

Support-raising tips

  • Pray before every interaction.
    • We asked God every Sunday night for ten names, and that was who we called that week. Your organization may have a different model, but this worked for us and kept us dependent on his provision.
    • Ask people to commit to pray before you ask them to pay. Prayer opens the door for God to work.
  • Plan to be disappointed—and pleasantly surprised!
    • Unexpected “no’s” can be discouraging. Remember: if God wants you somewhere, he will get you there—in his timing.
  • Support raising is one way that God can affirm your call—or negate it.
  • DO NOT GO unless you are fully funded. Raising support when new on the field adds unnecessary stress which is often term limiting.
  • When you set your budget, do not pick the lowest targets unless you want to make your transition more difficult. Raise enough for a sustainable lifestyle—neither extravagant nor impoverished.

Build your home country care network!

  • Develop a small team of six to twelve people with whom you can share all of your needs, concerns, and challenges. Family members should not be in this group. There are often times when you need prayer for something that is more than your family can manage.
  • If you are married, establish regular mentoring calls (at least monthly) with a couple at least a life phase ahead of you who knows you both well. Again, no family members.
  • If you have children, also establish a parenting mentor whose children are at least one life phase ahead of yours. Give them permission to speak freely.
  • Establish or clarify your sending fellowship relationship.
    • How often will they expect to hear from you? Who is your specific contact? (General e-mail addresses will not work. You need a specific person and their individual contact information.) Set up expectations for quarterly at a minimum, and ask for commitment to read your newsletter.
    • What events will require discussion or permission? (e.g., team change, dating/marriage, leaving the field)
    • Affirm that they consider the pastor/elders as your primary authority.
    • How will they help you on planned or emergency home leave? Confirm contact information.

Get your life in order—on paper.

You need the following (note, I am not an attorney, so best to speak to one locally for additional advice):

  • Durable power of attorney with access to financial accounts, safe deposit boxes, and storage units
  • A will and, if you have children, a trust and legal guardian
  • Primary and secondary beneficiaries on all financial accounts
  • A brightly-colored folder for paperwork: Print out visas, etc., even if they are on-line, in case there is a problem with your phone. Some countries require a paper copy. Brightly colored helps it stand out when you are in packing chaos.

During this phase, start

  • Your newsletter—ask everyone you talk to if they would like to be added. Most will answer affirmatively. See more in the “Tools” article coming later.
  • An answered-prayer journal

For Further Reading

  •  Foreign to Familiar by Sarah Lanier * (one of my highest recommendations)
  • Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor
  • The God Ask by Steve Shadrach and Scott Morton
  • Spiritual Multiplication in the Real World by Dr. Bob McNabb
  • The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken
  • Firefall 2.0 by Alvin L. Reid , Malcolm McDow, et al.

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.

This article is the third in this series.

Please share your thoughts:

Biography, Resources and prior articles:

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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