Both my husband and I (and our two young children) feel called to foreign missions and are in the beginning processes of answering some basic questions, as well as, organizing our finances (paying down student loans). We have roughly 4 years to get to the a point financially where we are free from debt (student loans).
How do we go about practically knowing where we are being called to go? Our pastor suggested visiting several places just to get a feel for the culture. We have both been to several different countries on mission trips but feel a bit overwhelmed by the choices we have.
Also do you recommend any mission agencies for short term trips?
I praise the Lord, Jami, both for your sense of call to foreign missions and your willingness to obey. This is the hard part! The one who has called you is more interested in your finding the place of service than you are, and this should give you great peace.
Your first question deals with the place of service, and I am not surprised that you felt overwhelmed with the great variety of needs in the world as you visited different places. Let me ask you some questions and make some suggestions:
- When you first sensed your call to foreign missions, was there any particular place that arrested your attention?
- As you have visited different places and saw the great needs, were there any that especially stayed in the mind of both of you, especially as you reviewed your own interests and training that seemed suited to help meet these needs?
- I would encourage you to get a loose leaf note book with a section for each one of these places. Ask the Lord in your prayer times together to guide you in your intercession for them and to show you where He would have you serve. You may find that comments in the news, sermons, and even casual conversations will highlight one or more of these places. Listen carefully to speakers at your church’s mission conference.
- As a family I would encourage you to do investigations on these countries, beginning with Operation World. In the process you will not only learn about the country, its spiritual needs, but also agencies that are working there whose goals and procedures attract you.
- It is my experience that in this process you will find yourselves being led to one or two places. It will also be a helpful exercise in intercession.
As for mission agencies for short term trips, well, Jami there are many, many mission agencies! Once again, the place is the first thing you want to focus on and then discover who works there and which of these agencies offer trips.
One helpful web site is: www.shorttermmissions.com.
These four years are not just space to pay off student loans. It is a time to seek the Lord together and to raise up a team of people who will especially support you in prayer. I would encourage you to form such a team of perhaps 5 individuals who would be willing to pray with you every 2 weeks or so as you consider the questions you have.
It is this group that will uphold you when you leave home. “Don’t leave home without them!” It is also this team that will help you pray in the financial support you will need. William Carey, the well known “Father of the Modern Missionary Movement” had such a team before he left England. Some of them prayed faithfully for him for over 40 years, even though he never had a furlough and never saw them again.
Blessings on you and your family, Jami. The best is yet to be!