Following God’s call to become a Christian missionary is a great way to serve the Lord. Yet, there’s more involved than just declaring that you want to be a missionary. Each mission field, mission agency and mission opportunity will have its own special requirements. You will need to take time to prepare for serving the Lord long-term.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” --Isaiah 6:8
A speaker may emotionally move you to go and serve, but this emotion will only sustain you on the field for a short time. A true sense of calling by God is what’s necessary to keep a missionary on the field.
So, how do you know you have been called to mission work? Well, first, there should be an internal compelling desire to serve the Lord in some capacity. You cannot deny that God is leading you, by the Holy Spirit, to perform a task.
The best external indicator of God’s call is your pastor. Your pastor can often see fruit in your life and recognize God’s leading. Of course, they can be wrong, but most pastors will be able to honestly evaluate and either confirm or caution you. It is always a great idea to talk to your pastor before making any life changing decisions.
The Initial Preparation
Once God’s call to be a missionary has been confirmed, you should begin preparing for service. Many decisions must be made in the process including:
The formal preparation for becoming a missionary is schooling and educational training. It may or may not be a Bible degree but many agencies will require that you have a college degree of some sort. This requirement is so they can know that you have the character to complete more training if needed.
Some areas of ministry may require special training beyond your normal schooling. This may be practical training such as on the job experience or formal training in the specific area. For example, if you are looking to be a missionary working as a teacher you may need formal training as a teacher.
Language training may also be required if you are doing cross-cultural missions. It is always beneficial to know the language of the people you will be serving. It is wise to start language training as soon as possible so you can be prepared. Online tools and apps are great ways to get started!
Practical preparation is not necessarily required but it is highly recommended and beneficial. It can include reading, going on a short-term trip first and finding fellowship.
Reading missionary biographies will help the you learn about life on the field. Knowing that others have gone through incredible trials of faith can be encouraging when you learn how God demonstrated his faithfulness.
See the Field
Going on a short-term mission trip before committing to long term missions can be beneficial. The experience can help you see what it is like to be on the mission field. It can also give you a better perspective of what the people need.
Like-minded Fellowship and Counsel
A great idea if you are wanting to become a missionary is to get to know other missionaries. It allows you to build relationships with others who understand what you will experience on the field. You can also receive council and encouragement from veteran missionaries during trying times.
Following God’s call will take time. Rarely does someone hear God’s call on their lives and goes to the field in a matter of weeks. With choosing the right mission opportunity, the training and the extra preparation, it can take years. As a missionary you will also be called to raise prayer and financial support. This involves several months of visiting churches, pastors, friends and family to share about the call God has placed on your heart. But don’t be discouraged. All the preparation is necessary to prepare you for a lifetime of service. God is getting you ready to follow His call. Are you ready to get started? Click here to see the 10 Steps to Becoming a Missionary.