In my experience of more than 10 years of missions work, it seems like we’re always beginning again. On the one hand, that can be frustrating. I used to think you should begin at the beginning, then keep going until you get to the end. Make a plan, work the plan, see the results. But I have come to realize that missions is a process of trial-and-error, and any process of trial-and-error involves many beginnings. An author has a wastepaper basket full of crumpled-up beginnings. Inventors have countless scrapped designs which they’ve replaced with new ones. Missions works the same way. The key is whether or not you learn something along the way.
This month, we are working on another new ministry plan. We have added new members to our team, and they have new ideas about how things can be done. If I were to give in to my cynical impulses, I might say, “Been there, done that.” We’ve come up with new ministry plans before only to have them end up like those crumpled pages in the wastepaper basket. But I see reasons for optimism that these plans might end up going somewhere.
Without going too much into specifics, I think the particular makeup of our team is such that something significant will come of our plans this time. Missions is, after all, teamwork. Having the right plan isn’t enough by itself, you also need to have the right people in the right places for the right reasons, along with the wind of the Holy Spirit to breathe His life into it.
Besides that, I have other reasons for optimism. First, we have received a lot of encouraging feedback from people who have come to the field in the last two years. People who come for the first time want to keep coming back. Sure, lots of people come and say they want to come back, then they never do. But recently people are going home, telling their churches what’s happening here, and bringing others back with them the next year. We’ve even had a significant uptick in people applying to serve here long-term.
Second, we have seen new opportunities for ministry opening up in places that we never even knew about in our previous terms. There is interest in our work from others, and that interest is turning into concrete ministry. Our coffee house apologetics outreach with a church in Vác is one such example, but we are also in discussion with other groups.
Finally, we are getting close to having our new office building completed, which is something that we have never had before. This will undoubtedly give us the opportunity for new ministries that we have never been able to carry out in the past for lack of regularly available space. It should be in usable condition by this fall. We anticipate it being used for events in the areas of training, evangelism, and discipleship, as well as being a central workplace for collaboration on our team. Eventually it will be available to house short-term missions groups as well.
I used to get a little discouraged about beginning again, again. But maybe it isn’t such a bad place to be after all.