How the military prepares you for missions

By April 15, 2022

USA (MNN) — No matter the branch, the United States military prepares people to live a life of purpose. Retirement, or an unexpected medical discharge, can leave military members wondering, “Now what?”

The mission field could be a perfect next step.

“God has a mission for every Christian. He calls every Christian to be in service to the Lord, and that looks different for each person,” retired Army Engineer Officer and Wycliffe USA missionary Tom Crabtree says.

“Seek Him; pray and expect Him to answer and He’ll lead you to where He wants you to serve, whether it’s overseas or at home.”

Tom served 27 years in the Army before retiring. Now, he and his wife Robyn support Bible translation teams in Nigeria. More about that here.

Below, Tom and Robyn describe four skills people receive from the military that make them perfect for the mission field.

1. Flexibility

“If you’re always trying to control things that you really can’t control, you can be quite frustrated. The military teaches you to be flexible,” Tom says.

In the military, “you’re trained to be in ambiguous situations where you don’t know how things are going to work out, but they teach you skills that will allow you to be successful, no matter what comes up. That, I think, translates really well to going somewhere on assignment in missions.”

2. Adaptation

Succeeding in the military is all about “blooming where you’re planted,” Tom says.

With every reassignment in the military, “you find yourself at some new place you’ve never been before. It’s completely different from the last place you were at,” Tom says.

“We learned that if you find joy, and the good things about the place that you’ve been assigned to,” it makes the transition much easier, he adds. Whether in the military or missions, trusting God with every field assignment results in peace.


(Image by Amber Clay from Pixabay)

3. Cross-cultural experience

Americans become part of a subculture when they live on a military base in a foreign country. But each military installment contains a subculture of its own. “There are many people who grew up in Central or South America, or in Germany, or in Korea, and they all come together on these military bases,” Robyn Crabtree says.

This diversity “taught us that the world is so much bigger, brighter, [and] more beautiful than the places where we grew up, the places that were familiar to us,” she says.

Similarly, global missions are full of cross-cultural experiences. Thriving on the mission field means knowing how to successfully navigate cross-cultural dynamics.

4. Work-life balance

Finally, the military emphasized “the importance of having healthy families,” Robyn says.

“That means mentally healthy, physically; having boundaries, knowing how to set priorities. All of those things we learned in our life in the military.”

Learn how to transition from the military to missions.

“Folks in the military are ideally suited to the mission field. We know a lot of military folks who have done short-term missions. But my challenge would be to pray about long-term missions,” Robyn says to military retirees and veterans.

“God is not done with you yet. There is still so much work to be done, and it’s a glorious, fulfilling life to follow God on this great adventure.”



Header image courtesy of Wycliffe USA.