“Double joy!” This has often been my response when people ask about my experience with RTIM’s Practicum. For six weeks, I had the privilege of serving alongside a local church in the Middle East. An RTIM global worker hosted me and taught me so much about cross-cultural ministry.
Why “double joy?” Because if I encouraged my host, the team, and the church members, then they encouraged me more. If I served my host, the team, and the church members, then they served me greater.
All-in-all, my experience was full of highlights and challenges. But most of all, I enjoyed the privilege of seeing up close the beauty of the local church.
Extraordinary Occurrences vs. Ordinary Obedience
Dangerous missiology practices prioritize rapidly multiplying churches via the most efficient means possible (If you want to learn more about this, I encourage you to read No Shortcut to Success by Matt Rhodes | Read RTIM’s review of it here). They’re fueled by the pressure to replicate the extraordinary. But during the Practicum, I witnessed God do extraordinary things through the ordinary obedience of the church leaders and members.
One highlight stands out: I saw five men from five different nations or language groups get baptized. Let me be clear, this was an extraordinary occurrence of God! How did it happen? It happened because ordinary church members consistently pursued these men and taught them the commands of Christ. Now these men are immersed in a healthy local church and continuing to mature in the knowledge of Christ.
During the Practicum, I had the privilege to do life with an RTIM global worker. I got a front-row seat to cross-culture ministry. Three lessons stand out.
First, personal holiness must be a priority. There’s a great need for discernment when befriending, teaching, and discipling overseas, especially in the 10/40 window. The question “Is it different or is it sinful?” crossed my mind often during my time overseas.
Second, it’s hard to have a deep relationship apart from knowing the native language of the people you’re ministering to. I saw the grit and dedication it takes to learn the language. In my context, it was Arabic. I could’ve fallen over when I learned most letters in this language change depending on where they fall in a word!
Finally, the gospel must always be presented clearly, consistently, and boldly to those you are ministering to. Of course, I knew this already. But I never realized just how hard it is to do overseas, particularly when it’s being introduced to a language group. As I learned from our RTIM team members, one must clearly share the gospel according to Scripture to avoid false teaching or create false converts.
Ultimately, you will develop skills that will serve you well in ministry—whether God has you stay or go.
The Beauty of the Local Church
When I retell my experience, I can’t help but gush while describing the local church I got to serve. The Practicum allowed me to befriend brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world! I witnessed a church made up of several nations serving and worshipping Christ in unity. And I saw how this healthy body was largely maintained through the long, faithful, and ordinary obedience of its elders and members.
God kindly allow me to be immersed in this local church for six weeks. He’s also graced me with a healthy local church here in Richmond, KY. As I meditate on both of these local churches, I’m reminded of the gospel’s power to cross cultures. What beauty! I saw how a healthy, local church functions in an unreached part of the world. And guess what? It wasn’t all that different from my local church. They both are marked by faithful preaching, godly fellowship among members, and a bold commitment to proclaim the gospel to those around them.
Why participate in RTIM’s Practicum?
I would encourage you to apply for RTIM’s Practicum because there is a great need for missionaries who love both sharing the gospel and serving in the local church. Along with being a member at my local church, the Practicum has immensely shaped my missiology. I appreciated the thoroughness of the application and RTIM’s preparation.
As you think and pray through the summer of 2023, I would encourage you to involve leaders within your local church. I remember how I used to think about missions when I was in college. If I’m being honest, I thought about missions almost completely apart from my local church. This led to great anxiety about determining if I was a goer or sender, if I would pick the right agency, or where in the world I should go. Take it from me, there comes great peace from submitting to your local church while pursuing mission opportunities.
Finally, I would encourage you to apply for RTIM’s Practicum because the local church will be at the center of your experience. God has chosen the church to display the mystery of the gospel to a watching world. So why spend any time, money, and energy apart from it?
Apply for the 2023 Practicum. You won’t regret it. In fact, I bet that you, too, will have the experience of “double joy”!