A month ago Erin and Mike started the process of training new MTW missionaries in the Cross-Cultural Missions Intensive in Belgium. Six-days a week we helped to train 15 new missionaries going to nine different countries. The training was a combination of classroom learning and field exercises. The new missionaries took advantage of the massive amount of cultural diversity in Brussels. They took to the streets to practice evangelism, studying cultures, serving the poor, and worshiped in a foreign context.
The training took lots of personnel to help prepare the 19 new missionaries. There were nine staffers (Erin and Mike included), six outside presenters, and six amazing interns.
This training, which takes place every six months, has been tweaked and amended over the years, but it is very similar to the month-long training our family did in New York City back in 2007. The training is designed to be the final training an MTW missionary receives before heading to the field. In fact, several of the new missionaries left straight from CCMI to their field of service.
In addition to working with all the missionaries and teaching lessons, Mike and Erin served as coaches to seven individual missionaries. With each missionary, we had several intimate and honest conversations. We tried to help them by providing insight from our 10-years of missions failures and successes.
This will be our final visit to Belgium to participate in the CCMI training as coaches. Part of our new mandate in organizing the West Coast Hub will be to replicate this month-long training and other MTW trainings on the West Coast. We look forward to continuing to training future missionaries in our new capacity.
This week we continued to help train 15 MTW missionaries going to nine different countries.
On Monday missionaries learned about family life and ministry. Mike sat on a panel and helped answer questions the missionaries had about life on the field.
On Tuesday the group learned methods and philosophy of evangelism from John Leonard. The training included practical application out on the streets of Belgium.
On Wednesday John Leonard continued instruction on contextualization. In the evening all the coaches and staff got together to debrief the previous week and plan the following week.
On Thursday the missionaries all made presentations about the church experience here in Belgium. In the evening, both Mike and Erin had private meetings with the missionaries they mentor.
The week concluded with the missionaries receiving and being briefed on some of their emotional and psychological examinations. In addition, Erin gave a presentation on how to thrive on the mission field.
The training is almost over and the missionaries are tired, but they are still doing well. Please keep praying for the coaches and the new missionaries.
Sunday saw Mike again leading his missionaries to worship at the Iranian church and Erin leading her missionaries to the Flemish church.
Starting Monday the entire week was dedicated to language acquisition. Nancy Craig taught the group about the concept of linguistics and language learning. There were lots of practical lessons and each missionary even started the process of learning a new language. Linguistics is very different than language learning and is a very useful skill for a missionary.
Mike and Erin participated in several presentations and panels about their experiences learning languages on the mission field. In addition, Mike delivered a sermon to the group on the topic of missionary suffering.
With the entire week dedicated to language acquisition, the new missionaries were exhausted in the end. Language study is intellectually draining.
On Sunday Mike and Erin went with their respective group of missionaries to different ethnic churches to worship and fellowship in a different culture and language. Erin’s group of four missionaries went to Bethelkerk, a Flemish speaking church. Mike’s group of five missionaries with to the Iranian Church of Brussles, a Farsi speaking church.
On Monday the training week began with the great Brussels Exercise. The new missionaries were divided into four groups and were tasked with a sort of Brussels scavenger hunt. After several hours of maneuvering mass transit and navigating multiple languages each group returned for a presentation of their experience.
Tuesday was a full-day of instruction about church planting by MTW’s Bill Yarbrough.
On Wednesday the entire group went out into Brussels to help serve the physical needs of the thousands of political refugees living on the streets of the city. We focused much of our time serving the Sudanese refugees who are awaiting a decision on their status for political asylum. We provided meals, played games with kids, gave out water, visited the elderly, and tended to the immigrants who were living in parks and sleeping on cardboard.
Thursday was a continuing of the church planting instruction by Bill Yarbrough.
The week concluded on Friday, with a silent spiritual retreat, where each new missionary learned about various ways of caring for oneself spiritually.
During the week both Mike and Erin had group mentoring meetings with their assigned missionaries. In addition, they had lots of one-on-one meetings with many missionaries. In addition to the group and individual counseling each missionary is required to write two papers each week and submit them to their coach for feedback. Mike and Erin each read and commented on eight missionary papers.
It is such a joy for Mike and Erin to mentor and coach this new missionaries and to better prepare them for success on the mission field.
On Monday, the presenters, interns, and mentors arrived into Zoventem, Belgium where we are training new missionaries for a month. On Tuesday, the new missionaries and their kids arrived. There was plenty of jetlag and culture shock to go around.
In the first week of training each day started with prayer, singing, and preaching. Mike was given the privilege of preaching on the first day. All the new missionaries met their coaches and had their first group meeting.
During classroom instruction the new missionaries learned about team dynamics, community analysis, cultural cues, cultural measurement, and culture shock. In addition, the coaches took their missionaries out into different communities and interacted with different cultures to try to better understand that neighborhood.
On Saturday, the groups first day-off, Mike and Erin volunteered to lead the new missionaries on a guided tour of Brussels.
It is a great pleasure to be able to train and mentor these eager servants of the Lord.