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Preparing for Furlough

Furlough is an important time in a missionary’s life. It can be viewed as an annoying hiccup in ministry and therefore ignored, but furlough can be a great thing for the missionary, their family, and their ministry. Allow me to give a few of the “preparations” needed to make furlough a good time instead of a dreaded time.

 

1. Vehicle.

If you don’t have one Stateside, you can rent one through a missionary service such as Righteous Rides or Baptist Missionary Transportation Ministry (BMTM). You can buy one and have family keep it while you’re gone so that you can use it on your next furlough or you can purchase a cheap one that you can turn around and sell when you leave.

2. Housing. 

You can go online to search and rent one before you ever arrive back to the US. Your home church may have a mission’s house or another church in the area may have a mission’s house that you could use.

Cautions to consider:

  1. It’s good to see family, but it is best to live in a place where you can be around people that will help, teach, challenge and prepare you for the next level of ministry.
  2. It’s best not to stay at family or friend’s houses unless you have your own entrance, kitchen, and bathroom. You need your privacy. Sharing a kitchen or bathroom is ok for few days or a week, but afterward, it is very likely to cause problems.

 

3. Raise Support.

It is best to call 3–4 months before you leave the field to begin filling your calendar. If you do not need to raise support, don’t worry about visiting new churches, but if you need more support, it is best to book meetings and get your calendar full. If you wait to call until you arrive back Stateside, you will likely not get any meetings booked right away. Most pastors book a minimum of 3–4 months out.

If you are raising money for land, buildings, or a project, it may be better to visit already-supporting churches. If you are trying to raise your support, it is best to book new churches.

4. Growth While on Furlough.

Marriage – go to a marriage retreat and read a minimum of one marriage book.

Ministry – read books, go see other missionaries and people who can help you. Set up times to meet one on one with your mentor and experienced people who can help you.

Family – plan some getaway times and fun things for everyone to do together.

5. Your Children. 

If possible, you can put your children in a school. If you are going to homeschool, get the curriculum needed and everything prepared for their education while on furlough.

Allow your kids to get involved in the children’s program or youth program at the church you will be based from. Maybe look for some sports programs or activities that your kids can be involved in as to enjoy their time in the US and take advantage of things that they will not be able to do or learn on the field.

6. Start Preparing Ministry (leaders and church)

Six months before your departure, you should map out your exit by writing down how many Sundays and midweek services you have before you leave. Make a plan so that the national leadership is 100% taken over everything before you ever leave the field.

Furlough is a very good and needed thing for your ministry. Missionaries typically do not like it for fear of the ministry falling apart, but this is a very needed test and lesson for the ministry on the field. Preparing the people and churches for your departure will help the transition (your leaving) go smoothly. Plan times that you will be late to church so that they will learn to start without you being present. Plan to be gone for entire services. Plan to be present but not do anything. Meet with the pastor(s) and help him have a schedule of what he will be preaching. Give the leaders tools for studying, preaching, teaching and leading ministries. By preparing the people and ministries, your departure can go smoothly instead of abruptly.

7. Health. 

Schedule any doctor or dental appointments needed for you or for your children. Whether just check-ups or concerns, go ahead and try to set up appointments before you leave the field.

8. Preaching and Teaching.

Prepare several messages you can use while on furlough. Since you are a veteran, it is very likely that you will be asked to preach more than one message at the same church so make sure you have several messages ready.

9. Personal or Promotional Material. 

Prepare and order prayer cards and a display so that they will be shipped and waiting for you when you arrive back Stateside. If you are not a graphic designer, you can pay one of the many who are good in this area.

You may want to record good video footage to make or have made a presentation you can send to and update all your supporting churches.

10. Plan a minimum of one good family vacation.

As you travel around to churches, look for opportunities to take the family to visit national and historic sites, but also plan to set aside some time for a fun family vacation that the kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

 

Jeffrey Bush

When Visitors Visit the Missionary on the Field

When I served as a missionary, having visitors (family, home church, youth group or just a single or couple individuals) was a blessing, but it was also a lot of work. My goal in this short article is to give a few ideas and suggestions as you host guests. Having a plan will help the time together and influence someone for the cause of Christ.

  1. Write out a planned schedule. This plan will be your roadmap during your visitor’s stay.
    1. Take them to the highest points of the city. Let them take pictures of the city and talk to them about how they are like sheep without a shepherd, a people in need of the Gospel.
    1. Give a gift basket when your guests arrive. For a large group, just have a basket for the leaders.  Bottled water in the basket is always appreciated.
    1. Give them your address and phone number (as well that of your wife’s or any pastor/leader you work with) so they can easily contact you or find their way back if separated from the group.
    1. Rent a vehicle (possibly a bus) if there are several people so that you can easily get around together. You can figure the cost in what the group pays while visiting you.
    1. Take them to religious temples (Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, etc.). Talk to them about the spiritual condition of your country and allow them to see it first hand.
    1. Take them to poor areas in the city and see the poverty, and talk about the spiritual poverty that abounds.
    1. Go to where large crowds of people are and let them pass out Gospel tracts.
    1. Make sure they’re comfortable. Do they have food allergies? Is it going to be hot or cold while they are there? Find out their needs and/or wants. Remember that if they are not comfortable, they are not as likely to listen to you when you challenge them nor will they like your country (because of a rough experience).
    1. 10.Let your visitors give testimonies, sing specials and preach when they visit your church(es). Do not do everything yourself in the church service, let them get involved. When they are involved instead of just watching, it makes their visit all the more greater.
    1. 11.Take them to see the lights of the city at night and talk to them about how each light represents several souls that are in need of Christ.
    1. 12.Find out the tourist attractions in your area and take them there, using each one as a preaching point. Let them see the history of your country, spiritual state of the country and culture of your country. Let them buy souvenirs to take back.
    1. 13.Take them to a cemetery, show them graves and dates in which people died and then ask them where they think all of the people are now.  Know when the Gospel first arrived to the country and how many people before that didn’t have much of a chance to hear the Gospel.
    1. 14.Make it your goal to preach, teach, motivate and show the obvious need while they are visiting you.  No one should visit your field without seeing the need and feeling the burden to be a missionary, or at the least being challenged to do more in missions.
    1. 15.Let them try food from your country, but mainly give them food that will not upset their stomach and make them sick. Just give them a taste of the food from your country and then take them to restaurants or make food at home that they are familiar with. Everyone likes adventure, but in small quantities.
    1. 16.Let your local church people give their testimonies and translate it for the visitors so that they can see what God is doing. If you have young men training for ministry (or pastors), let them preach to the visitors; this can be very powerful.
    1. 17.Give them tours and explain both the religion and culture of your country.  Let them observe the people at religious institutions. Why do the people have a red dot on their forehead? Why do they bow down to idols? Why do they have ribbons on their vehicles? Why do they have a call to prayer? Why do they dress in a certain way? Remember that what you are now accustomed to is very foreign to your visitors so be sure to explain all of it.
    1. 18.Make sure the hotel (or guest house or wherever you put the visitors) is nice. It does not have to be luxurious, but you do not want to scare them or make it where they do not enjoy their visit (this will give them a bad concept of the country, the people and of you as a missionary).
    1. 19.Have a devotional time in the morning and evening as a group. Be sure to give challenges and talk to them about the need all throughout the day.
    1. 20.Let them participate in ministry. Let the leaders teach your church people and especially those you’re training for ministry.
    1. 21.Do activities that people like and will remember. What do you want them to remember from their trip/visit? You don’t want them bored because you do not have anything planned but you don’t want to have them out every hour to where they will not listen when you challenge them either. Ask yourself what you want them to remember from their visit, and keep this in mind when you plan every activity.
    1. 22.Map out and take them to all the Gospel preaching churches in the city. Tell them how many people attend each church and then compare it to the great need in the country. Show them the churches verses the population. Lay out a map and let them look at it and pray over it. They should leave with a burden for your country and for the world.

 

by Jeffrey Bush

Single on Mission Field – Is it a Good Idea?

Serving as a missionary on the foreign field is one of the most exciting calls in the world.  Seeing lives changed from darkness to life, sharing the Gospel with the lost and being a light in a very dim area is just a few of the pros about serving on the foreign field. But with all of the blessings, there are no doubt struggles. Learning a new language, being “different” with the cultural distinctions and seeing people fall away after you had great expectations for them are just a few of the challenges. There are enough existing hurdles already that we must be careful not to make any unnecessary hurdles. Amongst the unnecessary hurdles is that of being single as a missionary.

Without a doubt, there are people who are going to be single and still serve God (possibly the Lord has led them to be single or they believe they can do more as a single person), but doing ministry as a single person will bring more obvious struggles than that of a married person. This short article has the purpose of revealing the why, in my opinion, it can be more difficult serving as a “single missionary” than a married missionary. My desire is not to scold or mock the unmarried person but to 1) reveal the hardships of being a single missionary and 2) encourage people to pray for a life’s mate with whom to serve God on the field.

A single man has more temptations. While it is true that a single person can devote more time to the things of God (I Cor. 7:32-33) because the married man has a responsibility to his spouse, it’s also true that there are more temptations for a single guy. God made the sexual relationship to be a gift fulfilled only in marriage. Sex is not the most important thing in life but it sure seems to be one of the biggest attention-getters that the secular world promotes and offers. Billboards, magazines/newspapers, commercials, movies and books are just a few of the ways the media pushes the sexual agenda. Whether a man is pure and holy, if he opens his eyes in this world, he can’t ignore the sexual pleas the world throws at him. Marriage is not the solution in the least, but marriage is the outlet created by God for the sexual desires. If a young man (or woman) goes to the mission field single, he is going to be hit by the flamboyant and seductive temptations and will more easily “take the bait” as opposed to a married man. Marriage helps stabilize a man and provides an extra set of defense from the sexual temptations.

A single person cannot effectively minister to married couples, or at least not out of personal experience. Society and media certainly know nothing about marriage, so where do married couples get their advice and help? They can learn not only from the Word of God, but also the messenger teaching and living out the Word of God in every aspect of Christianity. A single missionary teaching on marriage is not as credible as a married missionary speaking from experience. Obviously just being married doesn’t mean someone has a good marriage, but a married missionary who works at his marriage and has a good marriage will have a firm platform from which to teach and preach.

A married missionary is able to help other married couples, but also his wife can help other wives, single ladies, youth and work in any women’s ministry. It would be unnatural for a single man to help ladies (married or single) or work in ladies ministries (or vice versa as in the case of a single missionary woman working with men), so the married couple becomes a team working with both the men and women.

Every missionary has moments of discouragement, but a single missionary does not have a spouse to encourage him/her. The wise king Solomon said that there is power in a team (marriage can be the greatest earthly team known to man) because when one falls, the other can lift him up, but “woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up” (Ecc. 4:10). Anyone who has been in ministry long enough has surely had times where they have questioned if they should quit, move on or even invest in certain people. The single missionary is in danger because when he/she hits that low spot, they have no spouse to “help him up” as Solomon said. We all need to encourage others, but we all need to be encouraged at times and a spouse could be just the person who helps the missionary get back on their feet and continue serving the Lord.

One of the greatest dangers in being a single missionary, in my opinion, is the fact that the single missionary has no one with whom to practice real Christianity. It’s somewhat easy to put on a smile and tell everyone at church you are fine or to be patient for an hour or two with a “needy” church member, but a married person goes home with their spouse. Christianity is truly lived out at home. If a man can lead his home, he can lead a church and ministry. If a man can live out the fruit of the Spirit at home, he will not have any problem living it out anywhere else. Marriage is probably the greatest testing ground for living out the Christian life… and a single missionary loses out in this area.

 

Jeffrey Bush

Sexual Culture in Latin America

My wife and I had the privilege of living and serving in South America for 10 years (8 years in Argentina and 2 years in Peru). There were many things we witnessed and experienced, so the thoughts throughout this article do not come from governmental statistics but from personal life.

Growing up in the Midwest, some form of pornography was available whether it was from a magazine at my friend’s tree house, stories or language in the locker room, an occasional movie my friend got his hands on or rummaging through magazines at the drugstore. Although there was availability, most every form was taboo in society, something you did in secret or with buddies but definitely not with parents or other adults present. In no way would I say the US is at a high spiritual status, but there is somewhat of a morale still in the country in which much of the larger scales of perversion are done in secret and not openly.

When I arrived to South America, I noticed that the sensual edge of life was much more open, common and accessible than when I was growing up in USA. Local news stands offered porn magazines in the open instead of behind a counter or with a paper covering nudity up until the purchase. Newspapers had sections in the back with very provocative pictures and contact information for sexual services. TV talk-show hosts spoke openly about sex or being bi-sexual and hosted barely-clad women. The common soap operas had straight out sex on public TV. Advertisements with nude or almost nude women were distributed on the street or placed on vehicles.

A mom at one of our churches in Argentina told us about one of the classes her 11 year-old girl participated in at school. The teacher had all the girls open a condemn and place it on the stuck-out finger of a boy in the class. The goal was to show the kids how to use a condemn and protect themselves as they prepared for being sexually active. I could continue giving examples, but the point should be proven that the sexual culture in Latin America was flaring.

It was far too common to see a girl already expecing a baby as young as 12 years of age or my wife counseling a young girl who had repeatedly been sexually abused by uncles, dads, cousins, brothers or friends of the family. Lovers were common, young girls were abused and women were toys and objects offered openly and freely. Although these situations angered me, what could I really expect since they were only reacting to the food society had been feeding them?

Sexual culture in Latin America is alive and well but just knowing the sexual culture of Latin America is not helpful without advice on how to be cautious if you are working in Latin America. I would like to offer two suggestions to my missionary friends on how to avoid falling into the devil’s sensual traps while working in Latin America.

First of all, stay close to God. Sounds cliché, simple and almost so understood that we don’t need to mention it. According to the wise king Solomon, the person who is abhorred of the Lord is going to fall in a deep sexual pit (Proverbs 22:14) but the person who pleases and loves the Lord is going to escape from that sexual pit (Ecclesiastes 7:26). The common denominator of falling or escaping from the sexual sin is the Lord. Love the Lord, stay close to the Lord and live for the Lord will cause you to escape from this sexual pit, but ignore and don’t listen to the Lord will cause you to fall into this sexual trap that, according to Solomon, is “more bitter than death”.

Sexual sins are open and available for everyone (especially and specifically in Latin America), and it takes more than just a strong or good person to avoid the temptations. I don’t need to remind you that mighty, wise, good, God-fearing men have fallen prey to the sexual temptations. And lest we think we are too good to fall, I remind you of what the apostle Paul said, “take heed lest ye fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). Any man, working in his own strength and power can fall, but God offers His supernatural assistance to help us win the sexual battle. We can talk about meditating on His Word, memorizing His Word, crying out to Him in prayer and other very important steps, but the point is to realize that drawing close to God is the answer to avoid the temptations, traps and pits of sexual sins. Make time every day to communicate with Him through prayer and reading Scriptures and live conscientiously walking and pleading His help. The key of escape from sexual sins is knowing that God is where you should look for strength!

The second way to avoid sexual sins is to stay close to your spouse. Proverbs 5 says that a man is to rejoice with the wife of his youth (vs.18), to get all of his sexual satisfaction from and only from his wife, being “ravished (enraptured, enchanted, delighted, charmed, enthralled, captivated, entranced) always with her love” (vs.19). God made man to want and enjoy sex, God designed sex, but sex was made for the perimeters of marriage (Hebrews 13:4).

The devil is the greatest con artist, imitating all the marvelous things God has made but offering only a shell of beauty filled with poison. The missionary who serves in Latin America will see and be offered a large portion of sensual pleasure, but the offers are mere mirages in the dry desert of sin. The missionary should be sexually fulfilled through his wife; this is God’s divine method. A missionary should constantly work at growing in his marriage by reading books on marriage, making time for dates and always studying his wife. A thriving, healthy marriage is one of the greatest defenses a missionary has to avoid falling into the pit of sexual sins.

The sexual culture is wide-awake and going strong in Latin America and the devil would love to destroy as many servants of God as he can.  If we put on the whole armour of God that He has given us, stay in love with God and in love with our spouse, we can avoid being another casualty in this war.

 

Jeffrey Bush

Deputation Class

Many people say that deputation is a broken process, it doesn’t work, takes too long, etc. The truth is though it has been and still is the most effective way to raise money as a missionary.
Sure, there are ways to improve how deputation is done but many of the people that complain about deputation are the same people who are not willing to put in the work, calling and making connections! The truth is that deputation is a lot of work but if you work the system and do it properly, you can get to the field within two years with the proper amount of support. Read More

Deputation Hacks

  • Carry a wrinkle-release spray (from Downy or generic brand) in your car for if in a pinch and can’t iron in between meetings, etc. Works very well on shirts. Carry an iron as well in case you need to iron on trips
  • Always take a spare dress shirt (for lunch spill stains), full suit, shoes, tie, and BIBLE (I have forgotten shoes, tie, AND my Bible before and had to run to Walmart last minute or use a pew Bible, very embarrassing and not fun) Have a clothes bar to hang stuff up in the back seat
  • Keep a spare set of overnight clothes (an overnight bag) in case needing to stop over night because the drive home that night is a tad too far; Don’t drive more than 6 hours (2 states radius) away from home
  • Have an emergency roadside kit (from Walmart or somewhere) in case of emergencies which usually includes a flashlight, jumper cables, all-purpose utility tool like a “Leatherman” – Portable air pump that plugs into cig lighter for leaking flat tires so that you can make it to Sun PM meeting from AM
    meeting
  • FULL-size spare tire for same reason mentioned above, better than a small donut that can only go 50mph or under
  • Clean up your social media profiles/platforms from childish or inappropriate things. It is now a ministry platform. Listen to Michael Hyatt’s podcast “This is Your Life” about building your platform. Use Buffer or CoSchedule to connect your social media accounts. Set the FB settings to review tags before posting on your wall
  • If traveling to a meeting anywhere in, around, or across Atlanta… take the estimated drive time and add AT LEAST an hour or two to make sure you don’t miss your meeting because of traffic…especially midweek services
  • Carry neck pillow(s) and blanket(s) for napping in the car
  • Black suit, white shirt, red tie, black wing tip shoes, tie clip – always be dressed one step above and look like a 50 yr old man ESPECIALLY if you look younger or are single. Comb over hair style to be respected by preachers – “accidentally” leave a prayer card in the bathroom before service on the sink counter so that everyone that walks in will see your prayer card while they wash their hands; especially effective while in a Missions Conference.

Read More

Deputation is…

  1. Deputation is asking the Lord for new fellow-laborers in the harvest fields.
  2. Deputation is reading to each other mile after mile… after mile.
  3. Deputation is hoping you can make it to the next gas station before running out of gas.
  4. Deputation is meeting with a room full of perfect strangers and leaving with the feeling you have known those folks for years.
  5. Deputation is knowing every $.99 menu from Pennsylvania to Florida.
  6. Deputation is waking up in pitch darkness and knowing you must be in the prophet’s chamber of some church… somewhere!
  7. Deputation is trembling as you open the phone bill.
  8. Deputation is rejoicing over the 2 for $.99 Taco Bell crunchy taco special.
  9. Deputation is waking up in the middle of the night to a crack of light streaming through the bathroom door so you will know you are in a motel… somewhere.
  10. Deputation is selecting a gas station minutes before a church service to freshen up, comb your hair and get the kids looking presentable again.
  11. Deputation is scanning the support list at the first of the month to see who the new supporters are.
  12. Deputation is asking the Lord how you can better communicate the burden He have given you for the field.
  13. Deputation is trusting the Lord for everything
  14. Deputation is making new friends.
  15. Deputation is the blessed peace knowing you are doing what the Lord wants.
  16. Deputation is getting a note from a dear friend saying, “All in His time; don’t get discouraged.”
  17. Deputation is freshening up the message, never let it get stale.
  18. Deputation is using the support list at the first of the month to thank God for faithful supporters and families.
  19. Deputation is rejoicing over finding a new name on that list.
  20. Deputation is seeing someone receive the Lord as their Savior.
  21. Deputation is hoping for a gas war when you’re getting close to empty… again.
  22. Deputation is trying to write a decent prayer letter and sometimes wondering if anyone reads those things anyway.
  23. Deputation is spending the night with a pastor and his wife, and being strengthened with laughter, fellowship, and yes, encouragement.
  24. Deputation is knowing the “best” exits on at least one major highway…or three.
  25. Deputation is showing up to a church that forgot you were coming, but by God’s grace they took you on for support anyway.
  26. Deputation is knowing that you can trust God for everything.
  27. Deputation is the mechanic shocked you are back so soon for your oil change as he just saw you a few weeks ago.
  28. Deputation is the 500 hidden napkins you have in your car.
  29. Deputation is having every card to save you money on gas as you travel!
  30. Deputation is hard work but also a lot of fun!
  31. Deputation is getting your 10th iced coffee refill at Starbucks as you hang out between meetings.
  32. Deputation is getting excited when you get new coupons for fast food restaurants!
  33. Deputation is when a vacation is being home more than two days!
  34. Deputation is a front row seat to seeing how big our God really is.
  35. Deputation is a new nursery every service for your toddler to terrorize.
  36. Deputation is the best way to appreciate a home cooked meal.
  37. Deputation is learning to always be ready for anything.
  38. Deputation is a great way to stretch your kids to make new friends.
  39. Deputation is stocking the car with emergency cleaning supplies, backup toothbrushes, and deodorant for everyone.
  40. Deputation is learning when your GPS is lying to you.
  41. Deputation is knowing everyone and knowing no one at the same time.
  42. Deputation is seeing that you aren’t the only one standing for the Gospel.
  43. Deputation is fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ because of the unity we have in the Gospel.
  44. Deputation is a time to grow your faith in preparation for the mission field.
  45. Deputation is knowing that a 6 hr drive is actually 5hrs and 15 minutes… or 8 hours.
  46. Deputation is waking up in the night to see the neighbor’s light streaming through your curtains and realizing you are “Home Sweet Home” – at least for a night or two.
  47. Deputation is thanking God for a mission’s house with a washer and dryer.
  48. Deputation is seeing God provide in miraculous ways again and again in the most unexpected ways.
  49. Deputation is a proving to yourself and others that you have faith enough to step out and do what God has called you to do.
  50. Deputation is making life-long friends that will hold the ropes for you on the field!
  51. Deputation is passing through a city only to stop and grab a bite with a sweet family that previously hosted you in their home during a mission’s conference.
  52. Deputation is reminding your kids that God has blessed them so much to be able to see so much of their home country while on the road and meet so many new people.

I would love to hear more ideas (funny or serious) of what deputation is to you. Send them to me at jeff@visionmissions.com