This is Part 3 of pioneer missionary Brad Buser’s invaluable lecture about relationships between missionary partners doing hardcore church-planting among the unreached. Brad and his family spent twenty years among the unreached Iteri tribe in Papua New Guinea, and his wisdom is at once gritty and golden. Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2, as well.
11. Be sure your partner knows that you love his kids. You knowing that you love his kids is not enough. If he doubts it, his suspicion of motives easily spreads to other areas.
12. Be honest to talk about how things may be hurting you (my language ability, my kids, visitors). You will learn each other’s weaknesses, tender memories, etc. Be careful with such knowledge. You can slide the knife in front of visitors, but the work will pay the price. Show yourself worthy of trust to your partner.
13. Someone is going to excel in language; few guys go the same speed. Make it your goal to have your brother get the language and be encouraged as he does. Statistics say that most of you won’t be there in 12 years. This is your job for a time, but it’s His church, so don’t get too possessive of the work here; it’s not yours but His. The tribe isn’t a place to fulfill your fantasies, “little house on the prairie,” write a book. It’s a place to give your life until HE says move on.
14. Are you willing to let people and leadership change your first impressions of them? Do you lump judge or give each person a new slate? Do you focus on men’s hands or God’s hand when disappointing, frustrating, painful things come into your lives? Let every person grow into his own track record. Be quick to forget people’s worst days.
15. What are you willing to sacrifice to get the language? Are you willing to be a monk for some years of your life? The older one is the harder language tends to come — no two ways about it. You can get it but not without a price. Nights away, kids going to bed without you there — the age of Dobson makes this hard. The “work” is not in competition with your family; do not look at it that way.