The Great Commission has inspired a lot of Christians to consider missionary service—but very few ever make it onto the mission field. And sometimes it's just because they didn't know where to begin. You don't simply decide to become a missionary and board a plane the next day.
If you're thinking about investing in the kingdom of God by serving internationally, here are four tips to get you started.
1. Be careful of debt
Debt is one of the biggest hurdles keeping people out of international ministry, especially if you're a recent college graduate. A lot of would-be missionaries never really make it onto the mission field because debt has kept them tethered to their jobs.
If you feel called to missions, but you're in debt, give yourself a year or two to work as hard as you can to pay down as much as you can. All the focus of this short season should be on getting out from under debt. Think of as many ways to save money and create side hustles as you can to pay off as much as possible—and pray for God to help you get it done.
When that season's over, you can start raising support. If you have to raise a little extra to cover debt payments, so be it. Try not to let debt sidetrack you from your calling.
And if you're not in debt now, avoid it at all costs.
2. Get some short-term missions under your belt
It's easy to develop a romanticized view of mission work. That's why it's helpful to get into the field and get as much hands-on experience as you can. Spend time with other missionaries and learn from their experiences. And short-term mission trips are a great way to build a long-term mission focus in your church!
You want to go into missions with your eyes open to the wonders and challenges of the call. Spending time in the field and with other missionaries can help:
- Expose you to culture shock in a structured environment
- See the struggles and joys of mission work firsthand
- Discover how God sustains missionaries long term
If you're interested in learning more about short-term trips, check out Jesus Film Mission Trips!
3. Find people at home who can support you
Eventually, you're going to need to raise some funds, but this isn't the kind of support we're talking about here. At this point in the game, you need to find pastors, ministry leaders, missionaries, and friends who can not only confirm Jesus is calling you into missions, but who can also help you get started.
Sometimes it can take years between feeling called to go and actually starting your adventure. During that time, there are a lot of opportunities to lose your focus and end up staying stateside. You need people who can encourage you along the way and help you make your vision a reality.
4. Get as much training as possible
Just because God calls you doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to go. It should set you in the direction toward your goal. Don't overlook the importance of getting the training you need. Maybe your denomination offers training or you want to get in contact with a specific Bible school or an organization like Wycliffe. Whatever you choose, find ways to prepare yourself for your calling. Not only will it get you ready for missions, but it will also keep you focused on future ministry.
Get some help deciding what kind of work you would like to do, and get some help figuring out what you need to do to get prepared.
Share your faith with the world
While there are a lot of ways to serve the mission field without leaving home, the church desperately needs people committed to taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. If you think God is calling you to be one of those people, it's important to start your journey on the right foot. Gather a group of supporters around you and start moving in that direction!
Check out other blogs of scriptural study such as, "What Does it Mean to Store Up Treasure in Heaven," and personal stories of Jesus Film Project® missionary experiences like, "Finding Hope in the Wilderness," or "Sharing Your Faith, Even When You’re Nervous."