[Guest Post] Take a Trusted Advisor on your Survey Trip

This is our first guest post by Andrew Aaron.  He and his wife Emily have been missionaries in Ghana since 2009.  I can remember when Andrew and Emily came on their survey trip in 2006.  They even had a meal with us at our house.  We had been evacuated from Ivory Coast and were in Ghana temporarily at that time; we filled in for another missionary family while they went on furlough and then returned to Ivory Coast. I remember talking to Dr. Wilson and Brother Brewster, and they told me that they had come on the survey trip to help their missionary be able to make some important decisions.  I am so thankful for the friendship with Andrew and Emily, and I am very glad that they were able to bring their advisors along with them on their survey trip.  

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I want to talk about the importance of a good survey trip.   I visited Ghana on a short-term medical mission trip when I was eighteen, but my wife had never been to Ghana.  We started planning our survey trip at the beginning of our deputation process.  I really thought it was important for my wife to see the mission field before we fully committed ourselves to the field.  I knew it would probably be harder for my wife to adjust than myself.  She is the one that has to cook, shop, wash, clean, and school our kids all in a completely different setting than what she was used to.  I try to be a realist about living on the mission field.  I thought it was important to show my wife what she was committing to.

Looking back, I can see that the biggest blessing of our survey trip was the men who went with us.  We were able to go with two of the men from my home church.  Billy Brewster and Dr. Rob Wilson planned a medical missions clinic with some of the missionaries that I wanted to visit.  Doctor Wilson is a dentist that takes a lot of short term medical missions trip around the world.  Billy Brewster was a contractor, a farmer, and a youth leader who had ministered to the teens of our church for the past twenty years.   Bro. Billy is now a pastor.  He is still a close friend and one of my main spiritual advisers.   They wanted to go on this trip for my sake.  The main purpose was for Emily and I to have a survey trip, and the secondary purpose was for us to get to minister to the people of Ghana medically.

I knew it was God’s will for me to first work with another missionary.   My survey trip, in my mind, would determine who I would work with when I arrived on the field.   We were able to see six different missionary families on our survey trip.  My choosing who we would work with was a very big step for us.   It would determine where we would live, and it would determine what we would be taught for our first years on the mission field.   I was determined to list the pros and cons of these missionaries, pray over it, and make my decision.  I wanted a plan for the pastors back in the States.  I knew it would help us raise our support on deputation if I had a plan about where we were going to live and work for our first term.

Our three week survey trip was going well.  We had visited a lot of missionaries, and the doctors had treated a lot of medical patients.  In the end, this medical missions/survey trip had been a bigger blessing than I first thought.  The medical clinics were hard work and put the missionaries in stressful situations.   We were able to see how they acted under stress.   We finished our trip and headed home.  I was really glad to leave.   In my opinion, mission trips are always harder than actually living on the mission field.   When you are able to move to the field and set up your home, it is easier to live than on a missions trip in which you are constantly on the move.

After the trip, the two men from my church wanted to sit down and talk about the trip.  I was ready to pick the missionary that I thought was the best, finish deputation, and get back to Ghana.   Bro. Billy and Bro. Rob asked me what I thought about the trip.  After I was finished, they told me what they saw on our survey trip.  Wow! Some of the things that they were saying about the missionaries on the survey trip were different than how I had seen them.   To be honest, I was very discouraged after this meeting.  I thought that they were being a little hard about some things.  In fact, they did not have peace about any of the missionaries that we worked with on the trip.

I had a decision to make.  I could respect them and listen to the counsel of these two men and all the years of wisdom, or I could just pick a missionary because that is what I thought would get me to the mission field the fastest.  I listened to the two wise men that God had given me in my life.  I was twenty three at the time and realized that they understood people better than I did.  God really used them in my life.

I did all but two months of my deputation not knowing where I was going to be working.  This was a little hard when pastors would ask me where we were going to work, but God had a plan.  God led me to another missionary that I did not even know at the time of my survey trip.  We have been working here with him since coming to Ghana.

Since I have come to the field, the other ministry that I first was thinking about has really had problems.   God saved me from a lot of problems because I had two wise men on my survey trip with me.   They saw things a little bit deeper and a little differently than a twenty-three-year-old did.  Planning, praying, and getting Godly counsel is never time lost!

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The Bible says that in the multitude of counselors there is safety.  I firmly believe that.  Did someone go with you on your survey trip?  I would like to know what you think about this topic.  Please join in the conversation in the comment section below this article.