Missionary Diary: the seed that took ten years to flower

Craig and Sam McCorkindale have been on location in Cambodia with CMS (Church Missionary Society) for just over six years. But it’s almost 20 years since their mission journey first began. Here, Craig explains how they got to Cambodia and the lessons they have drawn from their journey.

Our mission journey began with a faint call. It wasn’t an audible voice from the heavens. Sam and I had just started dating when we both responded, independently of each other, to a ministry and mission talk by going forward. We felt called to ministry and mission. Our basic approach after that night was to consistently try and follow that call until God closed the door. He never did.

Not long after this call, a short-term mission trip played a helpful role in keeping mission on the cards for us. We almost felt a sense of duty to explore mission, seeing as we were both open to it.

Having an idea of location came almost ten years after our first call to mission!

We were exposed to mission in various ways during the first year that I studied the Bible at Moore Theological College in Sydney – in classes, in practice and in a missions week held at the college. After surveying the different mission agencies, we settled on CMS. We knew of their reputation for sending people long-term and supporting them. These were key aspects for us. CMS encouraged us to keep digging into mission through their yearly conference CMS Summer School each January, and to begin to send out regular prayer updates to supportive friends and family. This we did over the four years that I studied at Moore.

While studying at Moore, my desire to teach at a Bible school overseas became clear. We didn’t know where, but felt God was preparing us for this role. The next question was, “Should we go on mission straight after Bible college, or wait?” On advice from CMS, we stayed in Australia, getting ministry experience and completing further study; Sam gained a Diploma at Moore while I did my Masters. Only then did we apply to CMS. It was a thorough preparation for which we are now very thankful. CMS accepted us as missionaries in training and suggested Cambodia as a possible location. Having an idea of location came almost ten years after our first call to mission!

We can see how preparation pays off. Or, in the words of MasterCard, ‘priceless’.

With the idea of teaching at Phnom Penh Bible School in the local language, we moved our family of five to Melbourne for missionary training. Moving our family interstate became a dry run before moving overseas. That six months of training was invaluable. CMS accepted us as missionaries in the middle of 2016, allowing the faint call we had felt over ten years earlier to be confirmed through the body of the wider CMS fellowship (church partners and individual partners). We connected with our CMS partner churches in the second half of 2016, said our goodbyes, and landed in Phnom Penh in January 2017.

Now in 2023, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see how preparation pays off. Or, in the words of MasterCard, ‘priceless’. The regular prayer updates we sent in the early days prepared us to connect well with partners now while we are on location. The ministry experience and further study helped prepare me for my role of teaching at a Bible college. That ministry experience also prepared us for mission life outside my position at the Bible school. The missionary training we received at St Andrew’s Hall in Melbourne was invaluable, and continues to shape and guide us almost six years down the track. We are so thankful for training that gave us ideas on how to learn a language well, helping us navigate years of ongoing language learning, and enabling me to now teach in the local Khmer language without a translator. The thorough interview process (the requirements and the number of people involved) gives CMS and us confidence in moving forward, particularly in the hard times on location. Finally, we have experienced the supportive nature of CMS that first drew us to serve with them, again and again on location as they have carried us through some tough times. Preparation pays off.

Our mission journey is not the only such path. Some people might know where they want to serve but be unclear about a role. There is more than one way to skin a cat. What we do know is that our mission journey worked for us and is working for us as it keeps us here long term. Our encouragement to others thinking about mission or who haven’t yet begun to think about mission is to prepare – you might not need over ten years of preparation, as we did, but it has helped us to be open and ready for each new step of the journey.