Over the past years of working in a BAM role, we have seen many people come and go. We have seen some hit the ground and thrive! We have seen some hanging in there…not really thriving but striving! And then, we have seen those who are just plain surviving! All of these are wonderful people…called by God to go take the news to the nations…and all of them with different levels of “success.”
Whether people are thriving, striving or surviving, all BAM people face a few key issues. Their response to these issues seem to play an important role in their “success” in their new life.
Kid Issues – Residency / Identity Issues – Team Issues
For anyone who has children, they are the most precious gifts in the world. The Lord has blessed us with little lives that we are to love, cherish, raise and protect. When you decide to embark on a life of BAM, you are making a decision to take your children into a “war zone” of darkness. Satan has never played fair and he WILL go after your kids.
Many families struggle with kid issues like:
- What do I do about education?
- My kids have no friends and are alone in a new culture!
- How can my kids connect with other local kids when they don’t speak the language?
- How do we develop relationships with family members back in the passport countries.
These are all legitimate questions & concerns that need to be addressed. They can either cripple your ministry and send you home OR allow you to grow in Jesus and complete His calling in your life.
As parents, how you deal with these issues will impact your lives and the lives of your kids. I don’t have answers for these questions because every BAM family is in a unique situation; however there is one thing I know.
If God has called you to a life of BAM, HE WILL TAKE CARE of your children. It will not always be easy…but he will never leave or forsake them.
I do have one tip that I would like to offer to those raising kids overseas. Make sure that you find other parents who have gone before you on the journey. Ask them questions. Glean ideas from their experiences. There is no need to walk alone during your life on the field.
Finally, make sure that you commit to pray daily for your kids. The Lord knows each of them & loves them dearly.
Residency / Identity Issues
Another key issue that we have seen wreak havoc on the BAM community is long-term residency issues. Perhaps more than residency issues…IDENTITY issues. Many BAM people struggle to define and create a strong professional identity.
People in the community wonder who they are and what they are really doing in their city or town. Many BAM people try to start businesses yet they lack the business training and skills to carry them out. After a short while it is clear that their business is failing and their identity is at question.
Residency & Identity are massive issues and need to be addressed.
What we have found over the years is: those coming with a clear understanding of how important it is to develop a strong identity seem to do better.
They are prepared to invest the time and energy into creating a legitimate identity.
I wish I had a magic “business in the box” that anyone could do, but the reality is that business is tough and every location is unique. The key is to plan and prepare so that you can start off well. You may want to consider a business coach or mentor who can walk you through the key stages of establishing a strong professional identity.
Note: if you don’t know where to find one, contact us and we can point you in the right direction!
Sadly, one other key issue that many BAM people face comes from their team. Satan has found an effective way to destroy the Lord’s work…from the inside out! We have seen many people struggling in their ministries because of team dynamics. Whether it is the way you see authority, child discipline issues, or philosophy of ministry, these issues can cause destruction in the life of a team.
The reality is that we are all people! We are all sinners saved by grace. We all are still growing to be like Jesus. There is no perfect team!
The key is that you need to make sure there is good communication, expectations and boundaries established in your team.
Even teams that are formed around best friends can run into real issues. I would highly encourage you to develop a team MOU that sets out how you will live life as a tem.
As a friend of mine once told me, “You need to have thick skin and a soft heart!” In other words, be slow to be offended and be quick to forgive.