Is long-term mission right for me?
People from many different backgrounds with different skills and experience serve overseas or within the UK longer-term - including single people, married couples and families with children.
People of all ages can get involved - though it's worth bearing in mind that there are some restrictions on visas entries to some countries as well as limits on insurance.
So where do you start? Take a look at those questions which really stand out for you at this point in time...
If this is the first time you have considered serving in long term mission work, then here are some pointers to get you started:
- The very best place to start is to talk with your church leaders - seek their wisdom and guidance to explore God’s leading and to help you think this through fully. They are the ones who will be sending and supporting you.
- Ask others who know you well to pray for you and give their input as you seek guidance and clarity.
- Take time out to pray and listen to God about this for yourself.
- If this all feels a bit daunting remember that what matters most is your love for God, your love for people, and your Christian character.
And more practically...
- 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.
- Look for opportunities to befriend those from other countries and cultures where you live now. Think local before you go global is a really helpful short blog to get you thinking about this.
- Do some research and see which organisations or groups work in the part of the world that you sense you might be 'called' to or are interested in, and if 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 thinking of going overseas it is important that you reach agreement together 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.
- Consider serving in short-term mission.
- Read 10 Reasons Not To Become a Missionary - Laura Parker, former missionary in SE Asia
- Follow this link if you would like further information about the whole business of 'calling' and guidance.
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'. Further information on this is available in our Call and guidance section.
And finally, remember that the very best place to start is to talk with your church leaders - seek their wisdom and guidance to explore God’s leading and to help you think this through fully. They are the ones who will be sending and supporting you.
For further help:
Ready to serve? Six quick questions to help you clarify whether cross-cultural ministry work is right for you. (Be honest!)
Am I ready to serve in missions? 3-minute video asking three questions to help you know if you are ready.
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)