I just got back from ...

Savannah asked:

I just got back from church camp and I feel that God has really done some things in my life. Recently, I had been praying about what He wanted me to do with my life, and I believe the answer was missionary work, especially reaching out to those who don't have anyone else to love them. I don't know where or how yet.. I am 14 so I've got some time before i finish high school.. I KNOW this is what God wants me to do. I absolutely love to argue the Christian point of view with non-believers, I have a passion to learn spanish (and i have been doing so since i was 9 or 10 little by little).. so i can see how it would all fit into play..I've been on two short-term mission trips in the past three years and I loved the experience and long to have it again.What can I do to prepare myself for mission work in the future (either part-time or full..(I don't know yet))?

Jack Answered:

Thanks, Savannah, for your excellent question. Since I don't know you, I will have to respond in a sort of generic way. Feel free to write back if I'm not scratching where you are itching!

I praise the Lord that you feel a call to serve Lord as a missionary and are eager to project your preparation. Different mission agencies look for different things, but I would suggest the following aspects.

- The very best preparation for missionary service in the future is getting involved in ministry right now! For example, if there are groups of Christians meeting in your High School, get to know them and join the one that will involve you in Bible Study, prayer, and sharing the Gospel. I don't know what your church offers, but you should also be involved in some activity where you can not only receive, but also give - such as teaching Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group, etc. You don't want to get overloaded, but this is the time to learn how to receive from the Lord and grow in leadership opportunities through service.

- I trust you have established a pattern of daily meeting with the Lord. If not, make this a priority, even if it's only 15 to 20 minutes. If this is a new idea to you, ask a mature Christian or two for advice.

- Make sure the pastor of your church knows of your interest. He will be pleased and will be a great source of guidance as you move along and have to make choices.

- Do the same with the head of the missions committee (if there is one) at your church.

- If you church supports missionaries, read about them, and then choose two or three and begin writing them. Learn about the countries in which they work. Ask to receive their prayer letters and begin praying for them. If you like what they are doing, you might want to begin sending some financial support - as small as it might be - to them. This will help you understand what it's like to be supported financially, when you become a missionary.

- Talk to your pastor or missions committee chairperson about going on another missions trip. It would be particularly significant if you could visit one of the missionaries you are praying for!

- As far as education is concerned, this will depend on your interests, your specific calling, and how the Lord leads you. Much will depend on the orientation you receive from the mission agency through which you plan to serve. If you are a good student and like to study, I would encourage you to study something like psychology, history, or literature in college, and then study Bible, theology, and mission in a seminary or graduate school. More and more countries are expecting people who apply for visas to be professionals and have "something to offer" their countries other than just a degree in a religious subject. But all depends on where you feel called to serve and the kind of work you feel called to do.

If academics is not that attractive to you, think of attending a Bible School and majoring in missions, a place like Moody or Columbia International University.

A lot will have to do with what your interests and gifts are. What would you like to do? What would you like to see yourself doing in 15 years? It's also important to talk with your pastor and especially your parents about these things.

But you have time to think more about this!

- When you graduate from High School, I would recommend that you participate in the Spearhead program of the Latin America Mission – a two month, hands on immersion experience in Mexico. You’ll improve your Spanish enough to interact a bit with people, live with a Mexican family, and have an opportunity for a limited ministry. It’s more than just donkey work – it’s interaction with people.

- If you are interested in working in Latin America, I would recommend that you take as much Spanish as you can in High School and try to make friends with any Hispanics in your area. If there is an Hispanic church, attend once in a while to get a flavor of the culture.

To round things out: what do mission agencies look for? Someone who… - gives evidence of a call to mission. - has a heart for the Lord illustrated by their daily walk, involvement in ministry now, and is actively praying for and supporting missions in one way or another. - has the formal and practical preparation to be able to make a significant contribution.

I trust that these suggestions will be helpful to you, Savannah.

Keep in touch.

Jack

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