Good news! Positive radical transformation is possible in you and through you! That’s the heart of the message of missions. And that’s the heart of the challenge of training missionaries.
The scriptures tell a story of how God has worked throughout the ages to turn back the shadows of sorrow and suffering that sin has cast across our globe. He promises blessings to those who believe, healing to those who are hurting, new birth and new life in exchange for death. Jesus offers abundant living in a landscape shrouded by murder, theft and destruction. He offers reconciliation as the remedy for shattered relationships, the assurance of health in contrast to the “diseases of Egypt!”
That’s what God promises in His word, but how to prepare missionaries both young and old to preach this message? The best way to transmit a message of transformation is through a transformed life. So if you come to AFM student-missionary training this summer, that’s the question we will be wrestling with: How do I experience the transformation I am called to preach?
Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 say this transformation into Jesus’ likeness starts in our mind and hearts. But what does this journey look like? Several years ago, I read the book The Talent Code, which gives us a clue. The author, Daniel Coyle, was curious about what it takes to produce greatness or genius. What he discovered provides significant insight into discipleship. He suggests that three common factors characterize transformation—ignition, deep practice and master coaching.
Ignition, for Coyle, describes the moment when a young person sees excellence in another and aspires to be like them. This aspiration is critical to the journey of growth and transformation because it sustains us through the struggle that true greatness requires.
Deep practice is what actually brings about the transformation—literally changing the mind and the body. It requires becoming comfortable with the discomfort of confronting my incompetence. It entails struggle and suffering that slowly closes the gap between what I am and what I long to become.
Master coaches are individuals who understand the journey, inspire the student and direct their efforts through the valley of practice. One of the very best examples of master coaching I have ever seen is a YouTube clip called “Benjamen Zander—Leadership on Display.” Watching Benjamen Zander bring the best out of a 15-year-old cellist is absolutely inspirational.
If you dare to sign up for AFM’s student-missionary training this year, your life will never be the same again. The transformational steps you take towards being like Jesus will equip you to preach the gospel of transformation—ignition (helping others want to be like Jesus), deep practice (loving obedience) and maser coaching (making disciples)! I hope to see you there, July 17-August 13, 2016!