Dear Jack: It's my understanding, and I think I'm right in this, that missionaries don't make much money. In fact, I've heard that churches or organizations pay them but it's not like a regular paycheck. Right?
I've got student loans up to my ears but more and more I want to go overseas and serve God there. I want to take care of my responsibilities, but I'm not sure what's most important here. What do you think?
Your understanding is correct. The first question out of many prospective missionaries' mouths is "Do you have a pension plan?" Going overseas is a big financial risk - It's one of the defining components of cross-cultural missions.
This is not to say that financial responsibility is to be tossed out the window "when the calling comes." Many mission agencies will not accept applicants who have outstanding debts. Your personal discipline is very important. What are your spending habits like? How modest is your lifestyle (or better yet, is lifestyle even in your vocabulary)?
How about credit cards? Do you use them wisely, if at all? The trigger for the revival that broke forth at Wheaton University a few years ago was when students came together and cut up their credit cards. In my opinion, it was because credit cards, and debts in general, keep our eyes away from God. Your debts are promises to pay, and you should. Learn how to streamline your daily patterns, but don't let your position stop you from learning more!
God promises to be our provider. Often, he gives us more than we see, because we squander his blessings with extravagant living. When we repent, and ask for him to help us live out of his hands, we can rest in his abundant blessings, rather than serve another master.