She knew what she wanted to do. She studied hard and now she had her degree. This newly-minted ESL teacher was excited about heading out to Japan to practice her profession.
In frustration she called our office totally discouraged. Her high hopes were thoroughly dashed. She had contacted every mission she could think to offer her services.
The response was always the same. We would love to have you come with our organization – as soon as you complete these steps. 1) Pay off your student debt. 2) Apply and pass our review process. 3) Raise your own support through donations.
It would be years before she would meet the requirements to be able to practice her profession. She was devastated. In desperation, she called our office. Obviously, there was a flaw in her plan.
After hearing her plight I began to ask some questions to re-orient her. Was her intention to share the gospel with the people of Japan? Yes. Was she intending to be a tentmaker? Yes. Had she contacted any employers besides missions? No. Why Not? Why have you limited yourself to Christian employers?
She wanted to do ministry and thought that was the only way to do it. I asked what she would be doing if she went with a mission organization. Teach English in a mission school with people who were already exposed to the gospel, if not already believers.
Were there non-mission schools in Japan that needed English teachers, I asked. Did she think it was possible to meet non-believers working there? Probably more so. Would they require her to raise support? No. They would pay her to come and teach. Did they care about her student loan? Of course not.
What if… I asked, You reached out to some of those schools? It is worth a try, she replied.
Then I asked about her ESL training at her Christian College. Had she had any training is living in a work environment as a tentmaker. Sadly, no.
I encouraged her to get tentmaker training to be better prepared to function in her new setting. She enthusiastically said she would sign up for our next course.
Two weeks later I got a call from her. She had secured a position and was leaving in a week.
I shared in her success and excitement. Inside I wondered. Was she really ready to be intentional about sharing her faith? Did she have a prayer support base at home to sustain her? I sighed a prayer for her and hoped she would stay in touch. Experience tells me tough times will come. She will need someone to walk with her then.
That was the last time I heard from her.
- Plan beyond getting ESL training to become an effective tentmaker.
- The tentmaker training model needs to be more flexible and responsive.
- When you are stuck. Step back and approach the problem from another direction.