It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the MOST HIGH GOD has done for me. Daniel 4:2
Back Home: Now What?
Your trip home will be full of mixed emotions. You will be excited and want to share your experience with everyone (whether they want to hear it or not). But you may also be sad, feeling the let- down of going back to the routine of daily living. When you get back home, you may be asked to share your experiences with your church.
Your enthusiasm will probably set the pace for your church’s involvement in future volunteer missions. Even if the support is presently adequate, your excitement about the task could stoke the fires for more extensive mission involvement. Observe how Lottie Moon and Cooperative Program dollars are being used and share this as you speak.
When a volunteer shares his testimony of what God has led him to experience, he has in fact conducted a personal evaluation, as well as invited his listener to share in the experience of his ministry. Soon after returning home, take some time to reflect on your trip.
Ask yourself questions and write the answers in your journal to help you process what you’ve experienced. What was the highlight of your trip and how do you feel about it? What was the low point? What were your goals for the trip and did you meet them? What do you think God wanted for you? Is it different from what you wanted? How did you grow spiritually? What happens now?
Equally as important is what you do with the experience now that you’re home. You’ll want to work on a “reverse” testimony. Think about the questions that helped you process your experience. Then create a short testimony that you can use to share what happened to you spiritually.
“How did God change you? What is different about you as a result of your experience? What happens now? What will you do with that volunteer experience? Is God possibly calling you into full-time Christian service?”
When you finish your testimony, share it with others. Give them the opportunity to learn about another culture and what God is doing there. Allow them to see what God has done in your life. As you share, others may feel called to missions service. What a blessing it would be for you to encourage and nurture others for missions!
Ways You Can Share With Others
- Speak to Sunday School classes
- Share with youth groups.
- Speak to civic organizations.
- Share information with school groups.
- Show photos or slides as well as any items you brought home which show something of the culture.
- Speak during a worship service, encouraging openness to missions involvement.
- Challenge others to go overseas.
- Share with classes during Vacation Bible School.
- Share with your church during Wednesday night study time.
- Write an article for the church newsletter.
When you return from your fields, most of you will have chances to tell about your work overseas, either in writing or speaking. You will become some of the best encouragement about missions your church will hear. One of your lasting contributions will be how you help people at home understand missions. You want to let your audience see and hear and feel with you. We hope you will take the opportunity to share the blessing of your commitment. “Six B‘s of Communication”―by Leland Webb, editor of The Commission―is an excellent guide to use to help you prepare your presentation.
The Six “B’s” of Communication:
1. Be observant. Become aware of your surroundings. Open your eyes and ears. Absorb. To truly observe, you must be interested in someone besides yourself. You see the world by looking through a window, not into a mirror.
• Listen to what people say. It may help you understand them. Pay attention to what they do. Actions often reveal honest feelings.
- Ask questions. Note detail. Sometimes missionaries won’t tell you unless you ask. This may be in part because what you are curious about has become common place to them and in part because missionaries sometimes do not volunteer information.
- At the end of a day, evaluate what you have heard and seen. It will not only help you tell about it later, but also it may help you understand its meaning while it’s going on.
- If not unwise in your setting, make notes. The mental image flits away and vanishes. It’s hard
- to describe a person or scene strictly from memory. Details and conversation you’re sure you’ll remember will fade.
- If you try to understand the why of the new culture, you may find you come to have a clearer insight into your own culture. Two personal impressions have emerged regularly during travel on mission fields: (1) the need to accept people as they are, not as you would like them to be; (2) how seldom we are willing to do that.
- Observe fairly. See the promising side of the culture as well as the embarrassing part. No doubt you could take any visitor to places in your home city you would prefer not to be featured in a story. Also observe the missionaries fairly. They are, after all, in that place to stay; you are only passing through. What you may conclude hastily they may have worked through to a different conclusion over a long period of time.
- Remember that you are a visitor abroad. You are not a citizen and thus do not have the rights of a citizen to protest or participate.
- At home or abroad, keep in mind that you may be heard or read and quoted. Assume that you may be quoted when speaking in public. A church service is a public meeting; a reporter may be present at a civic club meeting.
2. Be specific. Use concrete nouns and specific adjectives.
- Instead of reporting, “The new Christians were rejoicing,” tell something they said or did to lead you to that conclusion. Your audience should reach the same conclusion.Instead of commenting, “She was dressed in colorful clothes,” tell what colors, what clothes. Use words to help your audience reconstruct the scene in their own minds: color, size, shade, shape, odor, temperature, sounds. Keep selectivity in mind. The goal is to use enough concrete detail to paint the scene, but not so much that you obscure the subject.
- Whenever possible, use a direct quote rather than an indirect one. Nothing can help paint a picture more than dialogue. Let your audience hear what the local citizens feel and think, not just what the writer or speaker feels subjectively. You were there. Try to convey that sense of presence to your audience.
3. Be complete. Remember the basic: Who, what, where, when, why.Never assume your audience knows something just because you do or because they should know it. Identify characters. Use complete names and make sure they are correct.
4. Be imaginative. Avoid clichés. Help your audience to feel the situation WITH you.
5. Be sincere. But do it without being pious. Overcome the compulsion to draw a spiritual moral at the end of each paragraph. Tell what happened, with dialogue and detail, and your audience will get the point. Defeat the temptation to over dramatize your role or your self-sacrifice. You are not “giving up” your time or money; you are investing it.
6. Be selective. Printed space and speaking time are limited. You must choose what content to include. If you prepare well – even write out your talk, you can emphasize what you mean to, without being carried away on a side issue.•
- Focus: If you can tell about a group of 10 young people who accepted Christ-resist the urge.
- Instead, relate the detailed, descriptive story about just one, or maybe two. Concentrate on one banana instead of the bunch, and your audience will know more about bananas.
- Part of the return on your investment of time will be in how effectively you lead your audiences at home to visualize what you have seen and to become concerned about missions because of what you share with them.
Passing It On
What did you learn in Buenos Aires? What did you wish you knew then that you know now? What should the next team from your church or association know about the ministry and your Argentine partner to make the next trip successful? These are questions that you should ask yourself and information that you should share with your church when you return to the States.
We encourage every team member to write one or two pages about their trip in the first week they return home to be shared with future teams.
Every church should have a “point person” for this partnership that keeps and distributes this information for the church. We encourage every team that departs to spend time with the previous team a few weeks before they leave to pray together and answer last minute questions.
Every church will have a particular partnership. It is important for every partnership to have on-going communication between the Argentine partner and within the mission teams from your home church. This will facilitate unity, develop prayer support and make for a smoother partnership.
The IMB Megacity team also wants to know how things are going. We ask that every volunteer who comes to Buenos Aires complete a volunteer exit survey. This helps us to keep track of how each partnership is progressing and how to better facilitate this partnership and others in the future. You can also contact us directly at email@example.com or through Kim Margrave at the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Volunteer Missions Office, TBC
P.O. Box 728 Brentwood, TN 37024
1.800.558.2090 ext. 2021
We want to encourage you again to share your experience with your home church, family, and friends. You may decide to do this by uploading pictures to a website, writing in your blog, or posting in Facebook. Whatever means you choose, please be very judicious in what you share. Remember, you are representing Jesus Christ, your church, and your family. To some who are interested in learning more about your time in BA, you may be their only example of Christ. Moreover, the friends that you make while in Argentina will want to maintain contact with you and you don’t want to say or do anything that could potentially fracture your relationship.