By Heather Brown | US Director of Mobilization
Are you interested in possibly, maybe, perhaps-one-day, serving overseas? Or do you know someone who might be? Here are nine suggestions when considering the question: What do I do in the meantime?
1. Pray. This may seem like an obvious answer, but it is truly central to the process of discernment and obedience. Rather than just praying for God to show you the specifics of where and what and when (He will do that in His timing!), ask Him to open your eyes to ways you can use your gifts for His glory right now in your current context. (Read this post for more on calling.) Additionally, pray for missionaries and the people of the world. Perhaps God will lead you to focus your prayers on one particular people group or nation. Learn as much as you can, and pray specifically. Whether or not God eventually leads you to work in this place, He will have expanded your vision for a needy world.
2. Serve where you are. As God reveals opportunities to reach out to others (see #1), follow His leading with enthusiastic obedience. There is a common misconception that you have to raise support and go overseas to have Kingdom impact. Not true! (Here’s another great read, as well as this one.) Be a servant right now, right where you are. This is not only great preparation for cross-cultural ministry, but also a blessing to your community and an invaluable opportunity for personal growth.
3. Get involved in a missions-minded church. Plug into the ministries of a church so that you continue to grow spiritually and become connected to others who are also seeking to follow Christ. Join the missions committee, participate in short-term trips, and volunteer in ministries related to your vocational calling. These varied experiences will help confirm your cross-cultural gifting and give you a better awareness of global opportunities. Also, personally investing in a church develops a connection that could lead into a more meaningful sending partnership if you end up going overseas. Ask if there is a specific process for being “sent” by the church so that you will be prepared to take the next steps at the appropriate point in time.
4. Invite the input of others. Ask family members, mentors, church leaders, and close friends (note: not just anyone) to speak into your process of discerning whether God is leading you to go overseas. Can they affirm that your skills, passions, and personality align with the type of ministry you’re considering? Do they agree that you are ready to go overseas? Seek wise counsel, and ask God to reveal truth to you through others’ words.
5. Seek out missions mentors. Do you know anyone who has served overseas? Ask them about their experiences, how they decided to go, what made them stay, what made them leave (if they have returned to their passport country), why they got involved in the work they did… all the while keeping in mind that people have drastically different life and ministry experiences overseas. Depending on how well they know you, invite their input, too (see #4). If you aren’t connected with any cross-cultural workers, ask your church or campus ministry to connect you with someone who has served overseas in the past.
6. Befriend internationals. Building relationships across cultures is a key component of missions. Spend time with people from other countries – international students, refugees, immigrants – and maintain a posture of listening and learning as you expand these friendships. Hosting people of many cultures and backgrounds is a great way to not only develop cross-cultural relationships, but also practice hospitality, which is central to many cultures and a Biblical principle (Romans 12:13).
7. Give sacrificially to missions. Broaden your global perspective and understanding of missions by financially supporting someone currently serving overseas. You may also learn about support raising and staying connected to ministry partners in the process.
8. Attend a missions conference or class. Joining a local Perspectives class or traveling to a missions conference (like Urbana) are excellent ways to learn about God’s heart for the nations and the many ways to use your gifts and passions to serve globally. Perhaps your university or church, or one nearby, has an annual missions conference. Attend the sessions, interact with missions representatives, and reflect on the information you glean.
9. Read, listen, and learn! There is a plethora of material to read and listen to on the topic of missions! Here are a few suggestions:
- Read Mission Smart by David Frazier. If possible, discuss its contents with a mentor (see #5) or small group of people who are considering overseas missions.
- Listen to the Global Missions Podcast.
- Immerse yourself in the insights of others on web sites like alifeoverseas.com or velvetashes.com.
- If you are interested in a specific field of service, see if you can find blogs of people who serve there to get a better idea of what life is like.
Do you sense the Spirit stirring you to consider going? Are you interested in exploring what it would look like to serve Him internationally? We would love to hear your story and how God’s leading you to be a part of His work around the world.
What would you add to this list? Send us your suggestions.