Hi Jack! I am currently a senior in high school and feel that the Lord may be leading me to become a full time missionary, specifically in a Spanish-speaking country. I love both music and art and I’m considering double majoring in music education and art at a secular university. Which brings me to my question—if I double major in what I love instead of something more missions minded (such as international studies), will that hurt my chances of becoming a missionary? Also, would it be worth it for me to consider attending a Christian university where I could major in missions and Bible but would end up accumulating a large amount of student debt? Is there any way I could use music education, photography and/or interior design on the mission field? If not, could I still become a church planter even without a missions/Bible degree? I obviously have A LOT of praying to do and would appreciate any answers you could give me! Thanks so much!
Thanks, Katie, for your question. Some thoughts.
" It’s not too early to be asking these questions, but the answers may not be easy to give!
" Taking the broad view, my personal attitude toward college is that it is more important as a place to form the individual than a specific opportunity of preparation for a career, with some exceptions, of course.
" If you feel called to be a missionary to a Spanish-speaking country, what do you envision doing? Answering this question would include reviewing how and why you feel called. “Being a missionary” is a very large concept. We do all kinds of things, including teaching music, using photography, and planting churches.
" It would be helpful for you to get in contact with a missionary agency that works in Latin America, and talk with their personnel director about your interests and calling. (One such entity could be the Latin America Mission, for example.)
" Some details:
o Church planting in Latin America is being done more and more by Latin Americans. They know the culture, the needs, and the people. Missionaries are more and more involved in teaching and different ways of assisting the Church there.
o Latin Americans are very musical. However, I feel there is a need to develop a theology of worship. Too often Latin churches just copy Christian songs they hear or make up their own, with little thought given to what musical worship is all about. However, this would involve you in not only studying music but theology as well, which would probably involve you in graduate study of “musicology.”
o Photography is a great way of bringing to American supporters a sensitivity to the reality of Latin America. All mission organizations have publications which feature photos. Most missionaries take photos, but few take good ones!
o If you like art and design, you could consider helping with the development of materials, such as a mission magazine here in the U.S., or helping Latins design and publish their own communication.
o The more you know about Latin America, the more sensitive you can be to the needs there. Most universities offer courses on Latin America as electives. Get to know Hispanic students. They are not “Latins,” in the sense that most weren’t born in Latin America, probably are a bit ashamed of not speaking Spanish too well, but do speak English, so you have no problem communicating with them.
o Begin gathering the names of missionaries to Latin America, get their prayer letters, and begin praying for them. When they are on furlough, talk with them about what they do and ask for their recommendations.
o Be on the lookout for news about Latin America in the newspapers, news magazines, etc.
o Try to get on a mission trip to any Latin American country. Here I would highly recommend “Spearhead,” the stellar, hands on, two month mission trip sponsored by the Latin America Mission. You’ll learn some Spanish, make Mexican friends, see the insides of churches, and be deeply challenged. It’s one of the very best experiences you could have, regardless of what mission you end up with.
o As for study, I can understand your reticence to incur the debt of a Christian school. However, explore Moody Bible Institute. Although they are not officially accredited, many institutions will accept their credits. Their tuition is very low. They also have courses on line.
Well, Katie, here are some suggestions.
Keep in touch!