Nathan* is an East-West missionary who recently moved to South Asia to help local believers reach their unreached neighbors with the gospel. We caught up with him briefly to ask a few questions about his life overseas. Here’s what he had to say.
What has been the biggest adjustment from life in the States to life in South Asia?
One thing that comes to mind is the difference in my ministry role. In the States, I weekly spent time gospel sharing, discipling, and gathering believers. Here we focus more on training and equipping local believers. That means we plan a month at a time instead of a week at a time so that we can get time with leaders in our area.
Personally, there are two big adjustments. First, my roommate is also my teammate. We started functioning in both of these roles all at once. That is difficult for any two people because we are going through culture shock, trying to live together, and figuring out ministry. I am praising God because He put us together and is using us to grow one another. We have different styles that can be stressful to navigate but are committed to pursuing what Jesus has commanded by loving each other as brothers.
The other adjustment is an increase in temptations to choose comfort in the middle of culture shock. Regardless of where you live, you know the world isn’t your home. In coming here, the temptation I experience is thinking I need things to increase my comfort. This is something I’ve noticed happening while looking for things like a refrigerator, couch, and food I like.
Part of my abiding time is reminding myself that this world wasn’t my home in the States, and it’s not my home here either. This is super important because if I lose sight of this, I lose sight of seeking God’s Kingdom first.
How is God moving?
We work with a local leader here who was trained by different missionaries a couple of years ago. God used his training to cultivate this leader’s heart for the work of multiplying disciples and churches.
When we met, he led seven church fellowships, which is a lot! My teammate and I started coaching him through God’s word on how to multiply and release leadership authority and the results have been amazing! God has raised up new leaders within these churches who are confidently taking on leadership responsibility. This creates more opportunities for these churches to really multiply. We thank God for that!
What are three tips you’d give someone moving overseas?
Do a gospel study. I’m super grateful to have been led by people who did this with me before I moved to South Asia because it helps me think practically and theologically about believing the good news for my life. Honestly, believing the gospel for myself is the biggest weapon in fighting culture shock and loving my roommate and teammate.
When it comes to culture shock, it’s easy to start believing your country is superior, which leads to thinking you’re superior because of where you’re from. The gospel shuts this thinking down because in it, we’re all one in Christ. Cultural superiority is not in line with believing the gospel.
So believing the gospel for myself helps with culture shock and it also helps me love my teammate and roommate. Believing the good news for myself reminds me that Jesus extends grace to me, which compels me to extend grace to my brother.
I’m learning that whatever the challenge is in life, the answer is the good news.
I’d also remind them that there will be temptations to run to a lot of different things, like language learning, working out, eating certain foods, and more for comfort. It’s key to find comfort in God alone. You can get a jumpstart on this before every moving overseas.
Lastly, if you want to share the gospel overseas, start sharing the gospel at home. If you want to start making disciples overseas, start making disciples at home.
Jesus started in his hometown. Paul, after he was converted, went to his hometown. Paul found Timothy, a man of good reputation in his hometown, on his second missionary. We have plenty of godly examples of people who were doing the work of ministry in their hometowns before they were sent.
We have the command to make disciples, which includes sharing the gospel. Wherever we are, we should be living this out.
How can we pray for you?
Pray for team unity and for us to love one another in Christ more and more. Pray for our language learning. Pray that we will meet more leaders who the Lord wants to use in different unreached areas. Pray that there would be a multiplication of churches and people who are trained and doing the world of evangelism, disciple making, and church planting.
Pray for us to abide and remain in Jesus. We cannot bear fruit in this work without Him.
*Name changed for security reasons
East-West's missionaries and national partners are stationed in nearly 50 countries around the world that are categorized as unreached or restricted access. For security reasons, we do not disclose their identities.