Is long-term mission right for me?
People from many different backgrounds with different skills and experience serve overseas including single people, married couples and families with children. People of all ages can get involved in world mission (though there are some restrictions on visas entries to some countries as well as limits on insurance).
If this is the first time you have considered serving in world mission long-term overseas, then here are some pointers to get you started:
- Take time to pray and listen to God about this.
- Talk with your church leaders - right from the start it is vital that you seek wisdom and advice from your local church leaders/mission support team to help you think this through fully.
- Ask others who know you well to pray for you as you seek guidance and clarity.
- Ask yourself whether there’s a specific people group or area of the world to which you feel drawn, find out more about those people and places and start praying for them.
- Do some research and see which organisations or groups work in the area that you feel called to or are interested in, and whether they engage in the sort of projects that are of interest to you.
- Where is there most need? Think and pray about your involvement in those areas and places where people are most unreached. Be prepared to be challenged or re-directed. Perhaps there is more need for you in places or projects which you haven’t yet considered.
- Find out what qualifications and language skills are needed so that you are aware of any further study you might need to do.
- If you’re a married or engaged couple it is important that you reach agreement on your course of action - differences of opinion which may seem unimportant at home in the UK can become very significant when you’re operating in a different culture.
- Look for opportunities to engage with those from other countries and cultures where you live now.
- Consider taking part in a short-term mission trip.
- Read 10 Reasons you Shouldn't (and Should) be a Missionary - Rodney Pennington (OMF U.S.) lays out 10 reasons people pass on the missionary life, and 10 reasons why cross-cultural missions work is an option you should definitely consider.
Most people don’t get a bolt of lightning from the sky, a booming voice from heaven, or see their name flashing in some kind of divine neon light. And if you’re waiting for a ‘burning bush’ experience, like Moses had in Exodus 3, it will never happen! Maybe it will just start with a gut feeling – an ‘inner witness’ in your spirit. Maybe something someone has said in a sermon or just a conversation is what’s motivating you. Perhaps you know someone who is already involved in world mission overseas and it’s provoked an interest. Could it be that God has spoken to you from his Word about your commitment to him? Or might it be that the knowledge you have of the needs that exist in the world around you has been enough to move you to action?
Even if none of these scenarios connect with your personal experience, it's important to remember that as a disciple of Jesus, you do have a calling. Jesus summarises the commandments as being 'Love God... and love others' (Matthew 22:37-39) and the Great Commission tells us to 'Go... and make disciples of all nations'.
And don't forget your local church - right from the start it is vital that you seek wisdom and advice from your local church leaders/mission support team to help you think this through fully. Further information on the subject is available in our Call and guidance section.
Most UK-based mission agencies would expect the following from those who express an interest in being involved in world mission:
- To have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, and be a committed, assured and growing Christian
- To have a working knowledge of the Bible and a desire to live a holy life
- To be active in a local church in the UK and have the support of your local church
- To have a desire to share your faith in word and action to enable people to know the love of Christ
- To be servant hearted, willing to learn, and prepared to work under local leadership and alongside overseas partners
- To be willing to interact positively with culturally diverse co-workers
- To be prepared to live simply and have the ability to adapt to changing situations
- To be willing to learn another language if necessary, and be prepared to learn how to live in a different culture
- To have the appropriate education, or willingness to train for your assignment
- To fulfil the visa requirements for the country you hope to travel to in terms of qualifications, skills, age etc.
- To have good general health and emotional stability
- To be flexible in using some of the more transferrable skills from your profession as well as life skills and experience
- To be aware that it might be a long process
- To plan to bring your spouse and children with you (if married)