Dear Jack,I have just recently become interested in missions. I have been praying fervently for God to lead me in the correct direction and this is what he has called me to do. My only problem is this: I am about to be a college graduate and I cannot leave until my loans are paid off. I was wondering what you would recommend in this situation. I have thought of sending out support letters for donations toward this end. I was wondering if this is a correct path. I appreciate all the help that can be offered from great people in Christ.Steven
Thanks Steven, for your note and for your interest in missions. Congratulations for your success in your college studies.
In terms of your loans and financial support, the time will come when it would be good to send out support letters. However, several steps need to be taken first.
" It would be important for you to decide where you want to serve and what you plan to do. As you think about your interests and your gifts, you need to think about the part of the world that touches your heart. Take a look at Operation World, which describes each country of the world, the groups that work there, and the needs they have.
" Then, my recommendation is that you contact a mission agency that works in this part of the world and talk to them about who you are, the gifts you have developed and the experiences you have to see what options they have for service that fit into your interest, education, and “gift mix.” They undoubtedly will ask you to take at least a year or two in Bible and theology, regardless of what you end up doing.
" While all this is going on, what is one to do??? I would encourage you to
o Get a job to begin paying off your debts.
o Develop a support group of people who know you and believe in you, and begin to pray for the country in which you would like to serve.
o This experience will begin to help you grow in the area of intercession for missions, will forge for you a group of people who will be your colleagues as you leave the U.S. As William Carey said to his support group, “I”ll go down (to the mission field) if you’ll hold the ropes.” Some of these faithful friends prayed for him for the rest of his life.
" Until you have followed these steps, it would be difficult to ask people to support you.
o People will want to know what your plans are in terms of ministry.
o They won’t want to give to you personally, but to a recognized organization that can give them an income tax receipt.
o Most mission agencies will allow you to apply a certain percentage of your support for debt retirement – since they see this expense as part of your preparation for mission service; but each agency has a different policy.
So…this is the broad picture. Meanwhile, the Lord will be working in your life in other ways. Ask Him to give you a passion for the work He is calling you to do. Do your homework, reading up on the country, its history, its leaders, its issues, and the development of the Church. All this information will feed and stimulate your prayers.
I would also recommend you attend the Urbana Student Mission Convention to be held in St. Louis between Christmas and New Year's. You will be taught, inspired, and will be able to check out literally hundreds of mission agencies and talk to their representative.
Blessings on you, Steven. As Paul reminds us, “He who has begun a good work in your will continue performing it (perfectioning it) to the Day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).