The Part in the Middle
Maybe it’s the forgotten part of being a missionary. It falls between all that preparation before arriving on the field and the ministry among an unreached people group. And it’s a full-court press of immersion in a process of learning culture and language similar to the one they’ll face in a village ministry. In West Africa, it’s the best way to learn not just how to speak the national language — French, in this case — but how to live in Africa among Africans.
Learning From Africans
Four months of formal French study is just the beginning. Then new missionaries learn from spending time with a host family.
“We help them to get to know the church context and the local culture,” said Pastor Moїse Nazaire Diémé, who leads a church in a West African capital city. “And we help them to integrate into the church by coming to different church activities as well as encouraging them to learn the language and the different cultural practices we have here.”
The challenge, Pastor Moїse said, is helping the missionary see things from a different perspective. “He’s coming to work in this African context, and helping him transcend his culture and work in this African culture takes a lot of work.”
Ready to Make New Friends
And it works. One couple related that though it was so tough at times they thought about giving up and going home, they grew into deeper reliance on God, gained a “toolbox” of experience and enjoyed learning from their African brothers and sisters.
They now see West Africa as home. “We love it here!” they said. They’re ready to move into a village and make new friendships that will lead to new African brothers and sisters among another people group.
Want to read more about this story? Interested in what happens in a village? Then you’ll want to subscribe today to ensure that you get the next issue of NTM@work magazine.