I have a desire for overseas missions but I feel held down by the forecoming of $70,000 in school loans. I go to a decent business school called Carnegie-Mellon and could use what I've learned. I'm thinking that I (probably soon to be we) will start in a secular job in the U.S. before opening up to International ideas. Everywhere i look the overseas options require support raising and offer little to take care of the $70000 in loans. What do you think i should do?
Thanks, Jarrod, for your very practical question. I know that the matter of repaying high student loans is a problem to many missionary candidates.
This may be only one of many obstacles that will come up in the future, including family problems, health difficulties, visa problems, etc. I know that it seems like a mountain right now, but the Lord is able to handle it, if indeed He wants you to serve Him as missionaries.
· Put the matter before Him in prayer together. Write it down in a note book and keep a record of what happens. If the Lord wants you to serve Him, He is well able to find a way for you. I would encourage you to respond to Lord's invitation to cast this anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
· As you read the Scripture each day, ask the Lord to speak to you. He may well begin to underscore the matter of faith, or some other matter.
· Be open to people the Lord may put into your lives who have resources. We are not beggars as God's children, but if people ask us how they can help us, we can certainly tell them.
· Be prepared for surprises.
- One may be an amazing gift which will blow your minds and confirm your call.
- One may be a gentle shifting of your call.
- Another may be several years of ministry or even secular work in this country while the Lord teaches you lessons or guides you into forming special friendships He will use in the future. This may involve you working in your field for a few years to save money and pay off the debt. Meanwhile you can get involved in a local ministry through your church, help in the projection of its witness, and hone your skills in presenting the Gospel.
- As you continue praying for the Lord's provision, you will be amazed at what will happen. The Lord has all the money He needs. What He desires to develop in us is obedience and faith. You may find that those years of hard work and ministry in your "spare time" was the best possible preparation for "mission." As you believe Him for His provision and then see it materialize, He will be nurturing in you faith to believe Him for spiritual miracles later on. Among other things, you will learn how to live on less than you ever did before!
Recently I talked with the Personnel Director of a responsible mission about the subject you have raised. Her answer to applicants who ask about student debt is that they could consider coming with the mission if by paying off $100 / month they could reasonably see themselves getting free of debt in time. If this figure would be too low, she recommends that they try and pay the debt off before going out as missionaries. She recognizes that some agencies would take a more extreme position and not allow any of the missionary support to go toward debt retirement.
Part of the problem is that the IRS gives tax deductible receipts for Christian ministry, not to pay off student debts. However, the figure of $100 is acceptable and most donors would understand and support the missionary candidate who makes this kind of arrangement.
I trust that some of these ideas will be helpful to you, as you consider this matter.
Blessings on you both.