In a nutshell, what does the ‘sending’ process look like?
“We like to think of the sending process as a coaching process. Every field worker applicant already comes with a range of skills, training, experiences and qualifications, and our goal is to help them move from where they are now, to using all that previous learning, skills and experience on the mission field. We want to identify the gaps in their learning, skills and experience, and target those areas in their preparation. For example, an experienced pastor going to church plant overseas probably does not require any additional ministry training but will need to increase their understanding of cross-cultural communication. On the other hand, a qualified social worker going to work as part of an overseas children’s ministry or project, will need to learn family, cultural and community dynamics, the different legal child protection frameworks in that country, and they may also need to do some supplementary ministry training. The social worker might also have no experience fundraising or engaging supporters for their ministry vision, whereas the experienced pastor will probably be able to draw upon their experience of engaging their church.”
What are the most common challenges people encounter when preparing for life in the field?
“The most common areas we need to help people work through are their own assumptions, which are based on the culture they are coming from, as we don’t want to see them carrying that cultural bias to the field. It is also a big change adjusting from short-term missions to long-term missions. We work to proactively identify and address these skill, knowledge and experience gaps with learning opportunities, training, or even short-term field experiences. The topics that we have put into our Intercultural Missions Course are the most common collection of missing knowledge items – or the knowledge items that require life-long learning, like growing in cultural intelligence – so we believe that will play a big role in preparing and equipping people.”
What are the benefits of missionaries having ACCI backing, rather than trying to go it alone?
“Networking with other cross-cultural workers, a peer support network, as well as opportunities to connect and engage with Australian churches. We also offer ongoing coaching because as people stay in the field, exploring new opportunities, they will continue to unearth more of these ‘gaps’ in their knowledge and understanding, as well as just through the normal change of seasons. The ACCI team has a mix of skills in finance, support-raising, systems, organisation and management, cross-cultural communications, community development, and so on. The team can give wise advice in times of change and at any point during a missionary’s journey. Lastly, ACCI has the systems to manage the finance side of things, so our missionaries can focus on the ministry and activities that they are called to.”