Transition resources

The transition process

You are about to transition back to your job, school, family, etc. Even though you may have been gone only a short time, the transition back to “normal life” might be a challenge. Everyone experiences transition differently, but the following stages show the general progression that most people experience.

1. Closure to environment (relief, nostalgia, grief, etc.)
  • sounds, smells, tastes, sights
  • routines and cultural practices
  • roles and responsibilities
2. Closure to relationships (pain, healing, sadness, remorse, joy, etc.)
  • local friends and acquaintances on outreach
  • church/ministry
  • team
3. Assess personal growth (gratitude, disappointment, frustration, inspiration, etc.)
  • spiritual, social, and emotional maturing
  • personal beliefs, values, and practices
  • life purpose, vision, and commitment
4. Reconnect with support systems (anxiety, joy, frustration, excitement, fear, etc.)
  • family and friends
  • young adult group, prayer group, and accountability partners
  • pastor and other mentors
  • classmates, coworkers, and neighbors
5. Vision for future (enthusiasm, uncertainty, focus, impatience, etc.)
  • personal call to ministry and mission
  • career and education
  • steps of equipping
  • the next step

Telling your story

As you return home, people will most likely ask you many questions about your trip, and you will hopefully have opportunities to share with your local church body, family, and friends. Here are a few things to remember when sharing about your experiences.
  • Remember the big picture. You are God’s witness to what He is doing. It's a role with great responsibility and great opportunity. Remember to see things through His eyes and to give Him the glory.
  • Share with a sense of awe. You had the privilege of seeing first-hand what God is doing in another part of the world, and now you get to share. That’s exciting!
  • Give people grace. Those who were not there will not understand everything you experienced; that’s okay. As you share, it is better to love people than to know all the answers.
  • Choose to have a positive attitude. You may not have enjoyed everything you experienced, but you can choose to be positive about the culture and people. Share the things that were hard, but in a way that is honoring to the people and culture.
  • Share with humility. Your job is to express what you experienced, not to impress people with your knowledge. It’s okay not to have conclusions or all the answers. Leave room for the Lord. Be ready to say “I don’t know” when the question is outside your experience.
  • Think of specific stories (snapshots) you can share. Share a few stories about specific people you met.
  • Share how the trip impacted you, not just what you did. People want to know how your heart was changed by the things you experienced.
  • Say thank you! Many people have supported you. Remember to sincerely thank them for their investment in your life and in God’s purposes around the world.
  • Share ideas for ongoing involvement. Adopt the country for prayer, have a Sunday school class pray for a people group in the country, invite people to (better) support the long-term missionaries there, or consider another mission trip to the area.

Continuing your mission vision

As people go out on mission teams, we desire that they become global Christians: men and women who are cultivating Christlike compassion for our needy world.

How can this happen? The “spiritual high” that many experience during an assignment can soon disappear, leaving a flat feeling. How can we grow as a result of this experience to develop an ongoing interest and commitment to worldwide mission? Here are a few practical suggestions:
  • Read: Mission biographies and histories, biblical studies of mission, mission websites, and even newsletters and magazines generated by many mission organizations (e.g. Missionary Messenger) can start you heading in new directions. These topics will expand your vision of God’s work in the world and help you to see where you fit in.
  • Pray: Maybe you don’t enjoy reading, but you can pray. Get copies of missionary newsletters, use the Mission Intercessoror form a prayer group with others. Make it a daily habit to pray for the missionaries and church leaders with whom you worked. Pray alone, or pray with others; pray for specific people groups (Hindus, Muslims, etc.); pray for specific countries.
  • Learn: Devote yourself to learning more about one or two missionaries in a foreign country. Go to Urbana, Evangel, EMM commissioning services, or EMM’s Global Fair, held each summer. A list of EMM events can be found here. Ask a lot of questions. Find out why Christians believe in missionary service. Find out how some people are going into unreached areas as tentmakers, using their secular jobs to declare Christ.
  • Listen: Talk to missionaries, listen to teaching tapes on missions, and keep current on world news. Hear about needs and commit them to prayer. Study world governments and commit them to prayer. Ask the hard questions and learn.
  • Go: Seek continued opportunities to serve. Perhaps you can develop an interest in other countries by working with international students or other internationals in your area. Perhaps God will lead you into overseas missionary service as you seek His will here and now, by being a “missionary” to the people around you. Check the EMM website for long-term and short-term opportunities.