By Ilona Hadinger
CINCEL is your gateway as an AGWM missionary serving in the Latin America and Caribbean region. At CINCEL you will begin learning both the Spanish language and cross-cultural adaptation. Inherent to both will be challenges and difficulties. The following are ways to manage trials and ultimately succeed at CINCEL, and beyond.
The three primary factors of success are
- spiritual formation
Spiritual formation is the most important of the three, as it will affect how the other two will be shaped.
Let’s begin by considering several key facets of a healthy spiritual life: a hunger for God and His word, fasting and prayer, and solitude. Hungering for God leads us to the Bible and a love for the Bible helps us know and love God. Through a commitment to the inerrant and infallible Word, our minds are renewed and transformed (Rom. 12:2).
Scripture also teaches us about spiritual warfare, how to develop a theology of suffering, increase our faith, and how to be strengthened in the inner man. Knowing Scripture is essential to your calling. “Fundamental to any short- or long-term ministry…is a knowledge of the God behind the Great Commission…Those heading for cross-cultural ministry must feel comfortable with their grasp of God’s sacred book (Steffan, 105).”
Prayer, fasting, and intercession are other practices vital to your success in missionary service. Have you considered that you are most like Jesus when you intercede? Hebrews 7:25 says, “…he lives to make intercession for them.” Further, missionaries must learn to take their troubles to Christ in prayer. This eliminates complaining and gossip, which arise readily in hardship. In prayer, the Holy Spirit will also give you discernment and lead you in the right response to your circumstances.
At CINCEL, you will be put on a fasting rotation together with the other students, so that someone is daily praying and fasting for the school, the region, and the world. “Christ actually meant prayer to be the great power by which His Church should do its work (Murray, page 12).”
Solitude goes hand in hand with spending time reading God’s Word and in prayer. Your life as a missionary will depend on practicing solitude, as it will lead you to healthy rhythms of life, replenish what social media drains, remove the weight of the many voices and noise in your life, and help overcome loneliness and fear you will experience. Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline says, “We can cultivate an inner solitude and silence that sets us free from loneliness and fear. Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment (96).”
Next is your character.
When you practice healthy spiritual formation, the shaping of Christ-like character will be formed. In missionary service, character is greater than any competency, be it language, theology, missiology, or other. Who you are paves the way for learning, interaction, and behavior. Certain character qualities have notably aided past missionaries during their time at CINCEL.
The first one is being teachable. This requires humility and meekness, which will serve you well in situations such as learning the alphabet in another language, or when feeling completely incompetent to do common tasks in your new cultural setting.
Practicing gratitude is a wonderful companion to humility. We are repeatedly exhorted in Scripture to give thanks and to be grateful in every circumstance. “Gracious gratitude recognizes the…excellencies of God. [It] enables us to face all things with the awareness that God is profoundly involved in our lives and circumstances, for He has made us special objects of His love (Begg, page 87).” One recent student exhibited gratitude and grace daily, in every circumstance. This brought a sweet aroma to the atmosphere of the school.
Being grateful will also help relieve you of the need to control things as it aids you in humility, trust, honor, and yielding to national leaders, AGWM leaders, teachers, your CINCEL Directors and others God puts over you. These people truly want the best for you and therefore are there to help you and guide you, even when you don’t agree with or understand their ways. A former CINCEL director stated it well when he said, “Others may know what they know, but they don’t know what the leader knows.”
Lastly, is a healthy lifestyle.
Perhaps the most needed lifestyle change is also the hardest: slowing down. If you are like most Americans, you live a busy, hurried life. Your new life in Latin America will require a change of pace – a much slower one. At CINCEL, your primary work is to study the language. Some students are driven to fill their schedules with many other activities; Often, they are the ones who struggle most. Another good lifestyle change is becoming flexible. Unexpected changes can be frustrating, but less so when you learn to roll with them. Ask the Lord to give you a positive attitude and even a sense of humor. Further, help others do the same. You’ll often hear the director say, “take care of one another.” This you can do in practical and spiritual ways, whether it is by cooking for someone who is sick, listening to a colleague who is overwhelmed or praying for the needs of your neighbor. “Interdependence means that each individual relies on the usual assistance, support, cooperation, or interaction of the other. Without interdependence, there is no relationship (Davis, 308).”
Your success at CINCEL and beyond is possible by caring for your spiritual formation, developing a Christ-like character, and adapting a healthy lifestyle. We believe in you and your calling.
You can do this!
You can do this!
Begg, Alistair. 2021. Truth for Life: 365 Daily Devotions. Kindle e-book. Charlotte, NC: The Good Book
Davis, Beth, and Davis, Nathan. 2009. Transforming Conflict: Relationship Skills for Global Workers. Springfield, MO: AGWM.
Foster, Richard. 1998. The Celebration of Discipline. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco
Murray, Andrew. 1981. The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers
Steffan, Tom, and Douglas, Lois. 2008. Encountering Missionary Life and Work. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.