My in-laws are missionaries overseas. Thus, my husband, John, grew up as a missionary kid, or better known today as a “third culture kid” (TCK). The most frequent question that John gets asked about his family is, “Are you going to be a missionary since your parents are missionaries?” He always responds with, “Only if I feel called.” He knows what it takes to live overseas and what it looks like to be a full-time missionary. Because John has seen firsthand the sacrifice required to be a missionary, it is not something he takes lightly, and neither should we.
If you are interested or feel a calling on your life to be an international missionary, here are 3 questions to consider.
#1. Do you sense a burning call by God to be a missionary?
Committing to a life of missions should be affirmed, first, through the Holy Spirit’s direction, then, it should be scripturally based and supported by prayer, and finally, confirmed through communal affirmation. Paul is an awesome example to follow regarding being “called.” In Acts 13, Saul (aka. Paul) and Barnabas receive confirmation from God after taking time to pray and fast with the community around them.
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
These three spiritual disciplines are key when trying to discover God’s call on your life. If you are called to live for Christ through international missions, you will have a burning sensation within you that comes only from the Holy Spirit. You will have a peace from God as a guide that comes from the time you took to pray about your decision and fast over it. Then you will be encouraged and endorsed in your calling through the community of people around you! Take time to genuinely pray and fast over this decision, and ask your Christian community to do the same. God will faithfully answer you.
#2. Are you willing to live a life that does not match up the world’s standards of success?
You probably know that a life in missions is not glamorous. It is a life that requires total surrender of self to serve others for Christ. However, when push comes to shove, you must consider the entirety of the sacrifice.
I’ve watched my in-laws give up the chance to live in close proximity to their children and grandchildren so that they could be used by God overseas. I have seen them move to new and uncomfortable places in order to care for the lost and broken. They have surrendered the comforts of life in the States to preach and live for the Gospel elsewhere. It is a wonderful thing to see their love for Christ far outweigh their need for worldly success. My mother-in-law states that a missionary must be one who is “willing to be used greatly for Him…to labor unseen, unappreciated, with little or no results.” Not for man, but for Christ. To live a life that does not define success by the amount of money one has or the position one holds, but defines success through the lens of the Mark 10:45, “not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.”
#3. Are you living on mission where you are now?
Well-known preacher, Charles Spurgeon penned, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” His purpose within this quote was simply to say that we are all called to live on mission. Living on mission is a command given to all Christians by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20. He gives us this instruction in stating, what we call, “The Great Commission.” He summons us to proclaim His gospel to all people and to make disciples of His followers. He called everyone to preach his gospel everywhere. Ask yourself this, how can you be expecting to share the good news of Jesus Christ overseas if you are not practicing it now?
What this looks like for us, is living a missional life on a daily basis. Whether that is being honest with some of our non-Christian friends, telling the grocery cashier that Jesus loves them, or starting a bible study in our school, it is intentionally living out the Great Commission.
My friends, our mission on earth is to share the love of Jesus with everyone we encounter. We are called “to make His name known” (Psalm 105:1), “even to the ends of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). I encourage you to pray and fast about the calling of international missions, surrender your life for the sake of the gospel, and to take up the calling of Christ…“Therefore, go & make disciples…”