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Asian Cross-Cultural Training Institute (ACTI) — Preparing Missionaries for the Field

By Levene Wong

As I look back on the six weeks of ACTI, I don’t even know where to begin. It was a whirlwind of experiences, from meeting 16 other missionary candidates and 23 facilitators, learning 28 different modules, travelling to Chiang Rai for a mission trip and the final graduation ceremony —it’s really hard to describe succinctly what ACTI was like!

Hill tribe church: worship; children's programme

ACTI began in 1985 with a vision to equip missionaries who were just stepping into the field — preparing them for the many challenges and culture shocks that they were certainly going to face. The topics ranged from Honour & Shame, Contextualization & Worldviews, to Phonetics, and Church Planting Strategies. All these topics were very helpful in giving us an overview of the different worldviews and practical issues we would encounter. However, there was a sense that this was just scratching the surface — it was good to learn some handles by which to navigate in the field, yet at the same time, I am awed by how impossible it is to bridge cultures and transform lives in our own strength. This work can only be done by the empowering of the Holy Spirit and by prayer. Faced with such an immensely impossible task, we see that this is God’s mission and God’s work that he has given us the privilege to be part of. It is wonderful to be able to see His hand at work in miraculous ways!

As part of the course, we were asked to come up with a masterplan for our future ministry. Initially, some questioned the need to do this — shouldn’t we simply go into the field and see where God leads? Wouldn’t writing a masterplan counter the leading of the Holy Spirit? Our facilitators explained to us that creating a masterplan did not mean that we were tied to it. It was simply a way to help us think clearly about the needs, the people, available resources and how to use them effectively. It was also a way to help us set clear goals and make sure that we were focusing our energies in the right direction. In the mission field, we would not have a boss to tell us what to do! Lastly, it would help us communicate our ministry clearly to our sending church and supporters so that they would be able to understand what we were doing miles away! At the end of the course, all of us were pleased to be able to present our masterplans clearly and confidently. But while we want to be good stewards of the knowledge and experiences God has given us, at the same time, we want to be prepared to change our plans when he calls us to!

ACTI equipped us with the knowledge and tools for service in the mission field. More importantly, the fellowship among the trainers, experienced missionaries and course mates has and will continue to impact us for the rest of our lives. From the trainers and missionaries, we not only learnt from their teaching, but from their personal life testimony and stories. We were awed and humbled to see how these servants of God had striven for the gospel, many in difficult places, yet their lives radiated joy and hope. Their confidence in God and his sovereignty was truly inspirational. Our fellow course mates came from many different cultures, nationalities and languages, and it was like a piece of heaven to fellowship, worship and pray together with them — not to mention the fun outings and lots of laughs together. It was such an encouragement to be among peers travelling on the same journey, to hear of similar struggles, and to know that we were not alone, but one in Christ. I was excited to hear about where God is leading each of them, to rejoice together in triumphs, and pray together in trials. ACTI has been an unforgettable experience, and we have all been truly blessed by it.

Levene serves in Wycliffe Singapore as an Event Coordinator and Communications Designer. She and her husband attended ACTI in 2018 and are considering how God can use them in the mission field.

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