Sunday, June 29, 2014

One Question: Advice on Serving in Mexico

Recently, I wrote to many friends who are nationals of countries that receive missionaries. All of these friends have worked with westerners and many of them have served as missionaries themselves. I asked my friends to respond to one question, “What advice would you give a western missionary coming to serve in your country?” 

So far we've heard from Kae from Malaysia, Sugi from Java, Indonesia and Soro here in Papua. If you missed any you can read Sugi's letter here , Soro's letter here and Kae's letter here. 

Advice from Jonas and Bet on serving in Mexico

Intro: I met Jonas and Bet at Elim Bible Institute in New York. They lived in the apartment below us and were both graduates of the school from Mexico. Teaching Spanish and serving in one of the local churches, Jonas and Bet have two very practical tips for missionaries coming to Mexico.

Q: What advice would you give a missionary coming to serve in Mexico?

1) Beware of your body language.  

When ministering in other cultures, people probably will not understand your native language (specially when you talk in other language in front of them) but body language is almost internationally understood. 

If there is an issue with someone in your team, or you feel frustrated with the situation, try as much as possible to address the issue privately. Even when people don't understand what is being said, they may perceive you as an angry person and loose the confidence to approach you (or trust you) so I guess the title for this first thought could be "Beware of body language and tone of voice"

2) Probably very obvious but could be tricky... "Learn the language"
I am sure missionaries all over the world want to learn the language of the people they are ministering to. But I've known many people that will not speak another language until they feel confident to do so without mistakes.

The thing is that by being willing to use (speak) the tiny little bit of language you know people perceive you as open, vulnerable, humble, approachable and must important of all without pride (arrogance) which is a very common perception of third world countries about Americans.
So I would encourage all missionaries to use the language they are learning, even if it's not perfect. A great thing that opens doors is to be willing even to tell people to feel free to correct you as you speak. They will feel more confident around you and will want to spend time with you.

This is the last scheduled post in the One Question Series for now. I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to sharing more one question interviews in the future.


  1. Thanks for sharing this with Velvet Ashes! What a great series!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Amy! I certainly learned a lot from these friends.