Dear Jack,I am a college freshman pursuing a bachelor's degree in theatre performance. I love theatre but lately I have felt especially called to do long-term missions work, possibly as a career. I would love to be able to incorporate drama ministry with missions. If I continue with my drama degree and don't go to graduate or professional school, how realistically qualified will I be to get a job as a missionary?
Well, Carrie, it all depends on what you would like to do as a missionary! When you had your experience of feeling “especially called,” what was the message you received and what did you see yourself doing in a cross-cultural situation?
Drama is a powerful medium, as you well know, and can be used to carry a message effectively. Groups like Youth with a Mission (YWAM) regularly incorporate pantomime in a great variety of contexts. Since there are no words, it’s a medium that can be used in another culture.
However, drama is not a message – it is a medium. To be an effective missionary you will need to have a clear understanding of the Gospel and be prepared to communicate it in a cross-cultural situation. How will you learn these skills?
1) I would encourage you to get involved in a campus Christian fellowship, such as InterVarsity, Campus Crusade, or the Navigators. You should benefit in the following way:
- Fellowship with other Christians in a basically pagan context.
- Learn to share the Gospel with your peers. Christian groups do this in a number of ways: one-on-one, group Bible studies, public meetings, etc. But most important of all is learning what the essentials of the Gospel are and how best to communicate them in a university context.
- Learn to share your testimony of what the Lord has done for you, briefly but clearly.
- Learn how to help a new Christian grow in Christ.
- Catch a vision of the love of Jesus for a lost generation.
2) I would encourage you to plan to attend the Urbana 06 Student Mission Convention to be held in St. Louis between Christmas and New Years in December of 2006. You will get a vision of what mission in today’s world is all about, fellowship with other young people who have the same call as you, and have a truly unique opportunity to talk with literally hundreds of mission agencies about where they are working, what they are doing, and how you could best find a place of service in the future.
3) Somewhere along the line or following graduation take at least a year of formal Bible / theological training.
4) If possible take a serious mission trip some summer. When I say serious, something that would be more than a two week semi-touristy jaunt. Look up www.shorttermmissions.com and get a feel of what is available. If you have any interest in Latin America, try the Latin America Mission (www.lam.org) Spearhead summer program. It’s hands-on, and may involve some drama!
However, your basic question is, "How realistically qualified will I be to get a job as a missionary?" Much will depend on the requirements of the agency you make application to and what they envision you doing. Most mission agencies would want you to have at least a year of Bible and theology training. Some would want more. But I would think the trend these days is to introduce you to the situation with the minimum, let you find your way, and then take more training when you have a clearer idea of who you are in the mission context and what you need to accomplish your vision.
I can't emphasize enough the importance of how you use your 4 years in college. Your experiences there can be a tremendously valuable preparation for a life of practical ministry.
If you feel like it, write me from time to time and let me know how things are going. If you send me prayer requests, I’ll pray for you.
Blessings on you, Carrie. You have a great adventure before if you keep your hand in His. He who calls is faithful.
In His Fellowship,