We spend time thinking about contextualisation. Assessing whether we are capable of sharing the gospel. We spend time praying about whatever work it is that we feel God has for us to do.
What never seems to be talked about in books about being a missionary is dealing with foreign immigration policy.
There are good reasons for this. Every country has a different set of rules and requirements. Those rules might change depending on what country you're starting in. In many cases, you're going to have to have some sort of work visa. Or you have to prove that the income you're on is enough and will be yours for however long the terms of the visa are.
But I think it's a mistake to ignore it when it comes to doing both missions training and assessing. Mainly because it has to be dealt with by every single missionary that ever leaves home to preach the gospel in a place where they are literal sojourners.
You can raise as much financial support as you want. You can have a legion of prayer partners. You can have the backing of every missions organisation. But if the country you're going to isn't willing to put a visa in your passport, there will be a stark reality to be faced.
I write this knowing what that feeling is like. We had never had any intention of moving to Poland but it was the best option for us while waiting to apply for a new visa again.
Right now, I'm getting ready to go through the visa application process again. This time, in order to be on track to settle permanently in the UK. It's a scary thing because there are plans being put in place, money that is being raised and pledged. The money helps in terms of meeting the requirements of the visa, but there are no guarantees.
So whether you're thinking about going into missions or are supporting a missionary, keep this on your list of things to pray for:
Pray that missionaries would be given favour with the immigration systems of the countries they are hoping to reach. That God would be going ahead of them and moving in the hearts, minds and machinations of those bureaucracies to bring his servants into the places he has set for them to work.
Pray that UKVI and the Home Office would grant me a family visa when I apply for it.