Your next steps to mission with WEC NZ

Next Steps

 

Next Steps? starts with you where you’re at right now – Looking for God’s will, or wondering if mission is for you, or wanting to get ready, wondering where you belong or even saying “I’m ready to go”. It then gives you some of our thoughts on questions you’re probably asking – we’ve heard lots of questions over many years we’ve been helping people find their pathway – and helps you find other resources, materials and perspectives on those questions. As you go through, we believe it will help you to find your next steps towards your individual pathway.

God has given us some great help in knowing His will – after all, He wants us to know it. The ‘specific’ way that you hear from God will be as unique as you are, but here’s what I’d say as you seek Him:

  • The Bible – God’s Word – is the ultimate guide to what God wants for your life. Have a look at our question entitled ‘what does the Bible say about mission?’ if you’re willing to be challenged!
  • The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to you – it’s His role to ‘guide you into all truth’ John 16:13. Ask Him for wisdom.
  • Pray! James 1:5 reads ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’
  • 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that the church and its leaders are the body of Christ, and that each has gifts and roles. Ephesians 4 tells us that these are there to build each other up. Godly men and women are all around you for a reason. Ask them to pray for God’s will in your life, and listen to their advice.
  • Speaking of gifts, God’s will is that you use yours. Have a read through the passage above (1 Corinthians 12), and seek out someone who can help you find your spiritual gifts.
  • Get involved and try some things out – as has been said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
  • Make contact with other missionaries; listen to their stories. There is much wisdom to be gained from those who have gone before us.

Well, now that you’re thinking about God’s will, you’re moving on your pathway. Keep looking – or get in touch with us, we’d love to chat more.

That’s a great, but huge question! John Stott gives an answer to this. (See here for the full article). We suggest that answers like this one and others can be reflected on even further in the Perspectives and Kairos mission courses that are taught around New Zealand. Many people have found them helpful in shaping their pathway to mission.

Stott points out that the Bible gives us a mandate to proclaim the gospel message to the whole world. It also shows us a model through Jesus and the early church.

The mandate is found in God’s creation (all creatures are responsible to God); God’s character (not willing that any should perish); God’s promises (that all nations would be blessed); God’s Son, Jesus Christ (who died for all); God’s Spirit (convicting of sin); and God’s church (to proclaim His message).

The message in the gospel, is that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead. As our reigning Lord He offers forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe.

The model is Christ who fully identified with those He wanted to receive the message. He left heaven and became man to redeem us. The apostles and the early church, as recorded in the Scriptures, also spread the gospel to their then known world. Acts 1:8

Still reading and want to know more? Get in touch with us. 

This might be the number one question I’m regularly asked – so you’re not alone in asking, and it’s a great question. So great that WEC made a two-minute video with five missionaries talking about it.

The first thing you should know is that God does have a plan for your life and that it is a wonderfully incredible plan. He loves you and is happy when He sees you seeking Him. So you don’t need to fear this question, or the process of searching…

A few reflections from my experience:

  • I can’t say it loud enough: try not to get so caught up in this question that you don’t end up doing anything. Luke Greer, in an article entitled ‘Sometimes it just seems good’ (EMQ July 2009) compared the ‘obvious’ call of Acts 10 with the ‘subtle’ call of Acts 15, and then came to this conclusion:”Had I known then the story of the missionary call to the Gentiles found in Acts 15 as thoroughly as I do now, then I would have known that, well, sometimes God’s call just seems good. And that’s enough”
  • If what you’re thinking is in line with God’s ‘general’ will, you probably can’t go wrong. Equally, things that God specifically forbids in His Word will never be a part of your call. In the same way, remember that we are all firstly called to live lives worthy of our calling to godliness (see Ephesians 4:1), and that is what God desires; our service to God is meaningless if it is not based on His redemptive work and our abiding in Him (John 15).
  • Often we know if something is God’s will for us by trying it. Just as you’ll never know if you could be a concert pianist unless you learn to play the piano, you may never know if you can be involved in a ministry unless you give it a go.
  • Sometimes just asking the very question ‘do I have a call?’ can be a sign that you’re thinking of something already. That voice inside you that says ‘this thing would be great’, can be the Holy Spirit whispering God’s words to you. Listen up! But be sure to talk it over with trusted church leaders and mature Christian friends who can help you discern whether it is God speaking.
  • God wants your whole life – not just some areas. We need to live lives of utter dependence upon Him, not picking and choosing the parts that we’ll give to Him. His plans become our plans.
  • If you’ve got peace about something, it’s a good sign (cf. Philippians 4:7 and John 14:27). But don’t let that decide everything for you; test your calling (see our article on this), because sadly sometimes we convince ourselves that we have peace, like the churches in Sardis and Laodicea (cf. Rev 3).

If you want to read more about this topic, the EMQ – is a great magazine. It’s printed four times a year and can stimulate your thinking as you pursue your pathway to mission. The following books may proof helpful: “The Missionary Call: A Biblical and Practical Appraisal” (Walter McConnell) “A call to Missions: Is there such a thing?” (Kevin L Howard)

This is such a massive issue that many people find they need to talk it over with someone. Find a godly friend or leader. And don’t forget we’re ready, willing and able to talk and pray with you – contact us if you’d like to talk more.

Absolutely! You can start right where you are. Paul chose Timothy for missions from the church in Lystra because he was recommended by the Christians there. 1 Peter 4:10 says “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” There are heaps of opportunities to serve in your local church.

You could also go overseas to experience what missions is like and perhaps even get the chance to use your gifts in a cross-cultural situation. WEC has access to over 100 teams worldwide whom you could visit for as little as a few weeks and up to 18 months. We will prepare you well before you go, as well as help you to reflect, when you get back, on what your experience meant in your pathway to missions. See here for information on our short term (trek) options. There are many genuine needs that are waiting to be filled, both short and long term.

In going along the pathway into mission, it is also good to track with those who have been down this road already. We have experienced missionaries scattered around New Zealand that would love to journey with you and help mentor you into missions.

There are also good resources to help you in your research and training. You could pray through the book “Operation World” (available on website here) and see what needs and opportunities there are in unreached people groups. Doing a course like Perspectives and other missiological units in a Bible college, such as Eastwest College of Intercultural Studies is also a great way to prepare and find out if this is God’s will for you. Contact us for more ideas by clicking here.

Romans 12:2 tells us that God’s will for us is ‘good, pleasing and perfect’. That’s pretty encouraging! Surely, we wouldn’t want anything less than that. So . . . we want to discover what His will is. We do this by spending time in His Word — getting to know Him, His character and His ways. In some things, God’s will is the same for every Christ-follower: holy living, righteousness, loving others etc. The apostle Paul prayed for the Colossian believers to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will so they could live lives worthy of Him. That should be our prayer for ourselves, too.

But the Bible shows that God has a specific plan for each of us. We see this when we consider the various people He used. Also, as we read present-day biographies of disciples, it is clear that they sought and pursued God’s will for their lives. Naturally, God is the revealer of His will to us. So, it is to Him we turn. He will speak to us through His Word, through our circumstances, through other people, and importantly, through the desires of our hearts as they can be an indication of the type of ministry He wants us in.

What should I do about God’s will? Seek it and live it.

Everyone has a place in missions. Without strong prayer support, missionary effort is ineffective. Without financial support, missionaries cannot stay on the field. Without church leaders challenging people to consider missions, there is a shortage of cross-cultural workers. So be assured — there is a place for you

But of course some people are called to go, and I believe that’s where many people’s pathways will lead. A part of finding that out is seeking godly people in your church and asking them for their input. Another part is considering your skills, gifts and abilities and how they might fit.

It’s hard to know if you’re suited for something you’ve never tried. I think a big part is giving it a go; the good news is that I’ve got some ideas for you to consider:

How about making contact with people already reaching across cultures in your own community?

If there is nothing going on, you might be the one to get things started! One of our Glocal workshops might be a first step.

You could spend two weeks to two years on a ‘trek’ with one of WEC’s 101 teams across the world and the people they serve and see how God uses ordinary people in cross-cultural evangelism and church planting.

Itching to know more? Contact us.

You were made with gifts, skills, and a personality unique to you. That’s no coincidence. Usually, those characteristics will make up what you’ll do to serve God. There are enough mission opportunities out there for anyone to do something ‘just right’ for them. For example, WEC has teachers in schools, medical professionals in clinics, evangelists doing just about everything — and loving it. (BTW, we’re trusting God for 1200 new people to join us in the next 8 years.)

But experience shows that sometimes things don’t quite work out as we imagined. We have a creative God who sees our potential better than we can. Sometimes the unexpected happens. There are nurses discipling new believers; carpenters teaching the Bible; pastors sitting with drug addicts.

Here are some words to get you started as you seek your pathway to mission: You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands (Psalm 119:57-60, NIV).

Want to explore this question more? Get in touch with us for a coffee.

Often the underlying thought behind this question is, “Surely there are Christians in all countries now, so missionaries aren’t needed.” It is true that there is now no country without a Christian witness or fellowship of indigenous believers (Operation World 2010 p.21). However, missionaries are still needed. To show why, we need to quote a few statistics. Bear with us and try to remember that statistics represent real people whom God loves.

It is helpful to distinguish between countries and people/language groups. Revelation 7:9 says that there will be a great multitude . . . from every nation, tribe people and language standing before the throne of God. So it’s not just countries we have to think about when we consider whether missionaries are needed, but also smaller ethno-linguistic groups within countries.

According to the Joshua Project there are still many of these groups (6,645 actually) where there is no viable Christian witness. In terms of numbers that’s at least  1.4 billion people — more than the population of India — who have little or no chance of hearing the gospel. See this article, Abandoned Times for a similar perspective.

That’s a lot of people going to hell!

There may be scattered believers among them, but no church able to effectively share the gospel. There are no fellowship groups to attend, no trained pastors, no big outreach meetings, no Scriptures in their language, no Christian bookshops, no school chaplains, no Christian groups in schools and universities…

As we said before, missionaries are still needed. The question is, “Will you be one of them?” If you would like to explore this further, click here to contact us to see how we can help you.

Take a look at a short video The World in Need for some thoughts on the world’s needs…

Here’s an excerpt of an article we wrote on this question. See here for the full article.

Is it really safe?

Not really. Nowhere is completely safe. We live in an overly cautious world. In the past, children were allowed to roam the streets with no fear of danger. Today parents worry about all sorts of dangers — some are real, but some are created in our own imaginations.

This paranoia can extend to our attitude to living overseas. Missionaries in some countries face sufferings and danger. This is nothing new. But is it right to send people to face these difficulties, especially if they have children?

It is a difficult issue to resolve. Jesus told us to be wise as snakes and innocent as doves; but He also said, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. In Matthew 28:18-20 (The Great Commission) Jesus promises to be with us if we obey Him in this matter.

In the end, we will come back to realising the questions are answered by understanding God and who He is and what He has done for us. Is He worthy? Is He worth the risk? What do you think?

If the love of God compels us then the love of God will sustain us. If the message we bring is of a loving God who is trustworthy enough to care for his children then surely we can trust him as we bring that message.

This is an interesting question. There are actually two answers – yes and no.

Yes, because every missionary wants people to know Jesus and so would make the most of opportunities to share the gospel (as should every Christian for that matter).

And no, because not every missionary needs to have the spiritual gift of evangelism (see Ephesians 4:11) or have a role as a full-time evangelist. Indeed in many countries it is not possible to openly evangelise.

However, God can still use your gifts and skills. There are a huge range of opportunities available and teams praying for people to fill them. For example, WEC currently needs IT specialists, bookkeepers, administrators, agriculturalists, physiotherapists, and children’s workers to name a few, as well as the traditional doctors, nurses/midwives, teachers, evangelists and church planters. Click here to see more opportunities.

God may even call you to minister in an area where you don’t directly use your profession. In one field of WEC we had a doctor who was a Bible translator, a dental technician who planted churches and a fireman who became a houseparent in a boarding school for missionaries’ children.

Sometimes it is good to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to mission and be open to how God might lead you. It can be an exciting pathway to go on. If you would like to read stories about how God is using people in mission, whether they are evangelists or not, click here to subscribe to WEC’s free magazine GoInto. If you’d like to talk more, contact us — you’ll hear from someone who has asked this question and can tell you how they responded, and then pray for you.

(Obedience to what God is saying to you is of the utmost importance.) You may be asking this because you know you can’t go overseas and wish to find out how you can still be involved. There are plenty of opportunities for mission involvement in your own country. You can:

  • Learn more about the mission scene in general. Check out mission agency websites, subscribe to their magazines (like WEC’s – see here) and join their Facebook and Twitter pages — like WEC’s Facebook and Twitter
  • See if mission agencies can use you in their local office. Most need volunteer personnel — administrators, bookkeepers, member-care staff and people to mobilise others into mission. At WEC New Zealand we are happy to talk to anyone wanting to be involved. Call 0800  46 46 86.
  • God is bringing people of many nationalities to New Zealand from countries where gospel witness is discouraged or difficult. You can be involved in reaching out to some of these through teaching English, friendship, hospitality etc. See what opportunities are available in your local area.
  • Join your church’s missionary committee (or help form one) and promote missions in your local church. To think about how to help mission become integral to your church, click here.
  • Become an intercessor. Adopt a missionary, receive their news and commit yourself to pray regularly for them and the country they work in. If they are working with a particular people group you can pray for the group as well. Good sources of information about prayer needs for countries and people groups are the Operation World website and the Joshua Project site.
  • Financially support your adopted missionary if you can.

Or you may feel God is leading you to be a missionary in another culture and you aren’t keen about it and hope you can stay put. You need to deal with the real issue at stake here.

Is it your lack of surrender to the Lord Jesus (Lord of the harvest)? He really does know what is best for you and for the people He wants you to reach with the Gospel. To disobey a definite conviction that God wants you to go to a different culture will mean you will always know in your heart of hearts that you disobeyed the One who gave His life so you can have eternal life. Perhaps it’s because the comforts of the West have too much of a hold on you. You don’t want to give up certain luxuries or conveniences for a life of restricted resources or limited comforts. Your love of materialism means more to you than obeying the King of kings.

If either of the above are close to the truth, then the principles of Romans 12:1 & 2 need to be thought through, prayed about and daily applied. Being the person God wants you to be and doing what God wants you to do is paramount for those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord.

The important thing is to listen to God and follow the pathway to mission He has for you – whether in your own country or elsewhere.

If you’re inspired and challenged by the stories of others who’ve found their pathway into mission, take a look at WEC’s facebook page, our website, and sign up for ‘GoInto’, our free quarterly newspaper via post or email. It’s also a great place to find our thoughts on tough issues like ‘Does God really want me to live dangerously?’

There are a lot of great missionary biographies available.  Check out your local library, your church library or ask around. Chances are your pastor will have a few as will others in your church. A number of WECcers have had their stories published. Click here for a link to the books we have available.

Perhaps the best “book” you will read is to meet a real life missionary and hear their story.  Look out for a opportunities to listen to missionaries. Contact us and we can let you know who might be in your area.

Here’s one answer from a site we enjoy reading, giving perspectives of missionaries from all over the world:

Answer from Mike in West Africa, who is translating the Bible with WEC International. “I wish I had had more realistic expectations.”

I could make a similar comparison to marriage. Many girls and young women have unrealistic ideas about the romantic bliss found in marriage and never see the problems or day-to-day hard effort needed to really make a marriage work. Missions is no different. In most missionary presentations,you hear about all the victories and what great things the Lord is doing. I think that is for two reasons. First, missionaries are trying to recruit people into the work, so they strongly emphasize the positive side. Second, most people, and maybe especially missionaries, don’t want to be vulnerable and reveal that they have problems. This is not helped by the fact that church people want to put missionaries on a pedestal as super spiritual for being willing to sacrifice “all” and live under harsh conditions. So it is important to talk with missionaries one-on-one so you may be able to hear their struggles as well as their victories.

Another common fallacy is that the “heathen” are crying out for someone to tell them the gospel. There may be the rare exception (in Papua New Guinea, one tribe did build a church in anticipation of the missionaries coming to tell them the Good News), but in general, the “heathen” are blinded just like the Jews were. They are not searching for God and are living deceived in the darkness of their blinded condition. One will most commonly find indifference to the message, and at worst, there will be downright opposition.

I am often amused by missionaries who have the idea they are going overseas to do a great work for Jesus. First of all, we are participating in the work that God is already doing. This is well-explained in the workbook Experiencing God. Of course, all your friends here will tell you what a great and wonderful thing you are doing. Then WHAM! You come face to face overseas with all your inadequacies and weaknesses. You realize how much you are actually going to have to depend on God to see something accomplished. Many missionaries when confronted with the reality of living in a foreign culture and the time needed to impact the people simply become discouraged, turn around and come home. It is only when we realize that we are totally dependent on God and wait on Him and work with Him that we finally see some beautiful fruit.

You need to know how to do your job. Imagine a mechanic offering to fix your car who had never held a spanner or could not find the radiator. Crikey, I’m going down the road to the next mechanic. Preparation is essential but the amount and type depends on the person and their intended ministry.

You can prepare whilst serving in your own church. WEC NZ offers church sponsored workshops. Get involved with evangelism and discipling people in your own community. Let your church leaders know that you are interested in mission and would like experience in this and ask if they can help you. Hands-on training is invaluable for the development of knowledge and character.

You can do a course like Perspectives or Kairos that give a great understanding of mission and where you might fit. Also I know some people who do Bible college externally. They found out what they needed to study and are following this program over several years whilst working.

Many people attend Bible college. There are many good ones with excellent Bible and missiological training. Find out what you need to do your job and ask the college if they have appropriate courses. EastWest College for Intercultural Studies is a good example of the sort of place that provides excellent preparation.  Here you will hands on experience in cross cultural ministry as well gaining an in depth Bible knowledge. You will learn as you go, reflect on your practise and apply changes. This is a great way of gaining confidence, knowledge and a super attitude towards reaching peoples.

Don’t view training as just another hurdle that you have to do. It’s a great opportunity to experience God, develop personally, learn skills and hopefully be involved in sharing Jesus at the same time. Your ministry is ‘now’ and the ‘now’ will prepare you for the future.

Good news: everyone’s story is different, and so will yours be. But here’s some guidelines that I think will help:

  • First up, this is God’s decision. The final choice might not seem sensible, but He does have the perfect place for you. So seek Him; He is the Lord of the harvest.
  • Let God speak to you about this in the same way as every other decision you’ve made. Sure, it’s a big decision, but God will speak to you. Maybe a country will keep popping up or really attract you. That could be God, just as easily as a big flashing neon sign (and they don’t happen too often!).
  • Don’t do it in isolation – ask godly leaders, friends and others to specifically ask God for wisdom on your behalf.
  • Do some research. Pick up Operation World and let God broaden your mind and challenge you about a country.
  • Think about who God has made you to be, and where your skills, spiritual gifts and personality might fit in.   Even natural things like the kind of food you like or the weather you enjoy could be part of working out where God wants you to go.
  • Think about what’s important to you — do you need to be close to healthcare/family? How do you go in insecure situations? Take these into account.

Whatever the case, we’d love to talk to you more and pray with you — contact us.

OK. If you’ve got this far, you probably have a fair idea that you want to tell people about Jesus, or help others do so somewhere where there is no church. That’s an outstanding place to arrive, well done! Here are some ideas to help you prepare and also keep you faithful to that vision.

Take a look at this video on youtube.

WEC asked a few missionaries what they thought, and in 4 minutes this was their response!

Some other ideas:

  1. First up, make sure you share your desires with your church leaders and some friends who can support you. Start the journey early with these people who will eventually become your support team when you are ‘on mission’. They can pray for you and hold you accountable.
  2. Second, see if you can get experience within your church in evangelism and discipling. You can develop skills that will help you later on and also gain respect from those around you. People will see you are serious about your calling to be a missionary. You could also do a course like Perspectives or Kairos to give you a better overall understanding of mission around the world.
  3. Third, doing a cross-cultural short term mission trip can be really helpful. It’s great to know what you are really getting into and it may help you work out if mission is for you. You could do this in NZ.  We can put you in contact with people reaching out cross culturaly here.  If you’re keen to explore something overseas then we can link you up with one of WEC’s 101 teams worldwide through our trek (short term) option for between 2 weeks and 2 years!
  4. Fourth, it would be important for you to find out what training would be useful/needed to equip you (see our question on this, next up on this site). This will depend on the mission group you join, the country you go to and the ministry you do. Some countries require higher education before they grant you a visa. In some countries you have to ‘tent make’, as otherwise you would not be permitted to live there.
  5. When choosing a training path think about how useful it will be to your ministry in the next few years. Also think about its value in the future — if you want to pursue futher education down the track, will this present training help? For example, if you’re thinking about a diploma, ask if it will help towards a higher level course like a degree later on. You never know what the future brings so it is good to be prepared. WEC runs a college geared especially towards cross-cultural mission; check out a video about them here and visit their website here.
  6. Finally, don’t delay too long with preparation. Often people spend many years getting well prepared but then lose their initial desire to be in mission, or the pressures of the world overtake them. Make that phone call now (0800 46 46 86), speak to your church leader or a mission representative and say “Hey, I think God wants me to be a missionary, can you help me get prepared?”
It can be. That wasn’t the answer you expected — but let me explain!

Some people I meet spend so long ‘preparing for mission’ that they never actually get to ‘mission’. That kind of preparation, which usually includes a long time waiting to see if God is calling them, or what they should do, or waiting for a certain thing to happen (without being proactive about working it out) can be a waste of time. So what does that mean? Here are a few thoughts — as always they’re just a start.

  • Do prepare. The average missionary probably spends at least 3-5 years getting ready, and most that I’ve spoken to say that their preparation was really helpful. Preparation keeps you on the field longer, and helps avoid making some mistakes — so that’s worth it, because no-one wants to get ‘out there’ just to find that they’re not ready yet.
  • In planning what you should prepare in, think about what you’re lacking, and then make specific steps to fill in the gaps. For example:
    • Need to know your Bible better? Take some courses in understanding the Bible.
    • Don’t know much about how to relate to people of other faiths or cultures? Find someone of another faith or culture and start relating to them. Or find a college like EastWest College that runs subjects specifically helping you relate cross-culturally.
    • Not sure how to share your faith? Share your faith! Find a mentor who you know is great at evangelism and ask them to help you.
    • Got a particular ministry in mind? Try to find out what you’d need if you were to do that in another country. For example, if you want to be a medical professional overseas, the intermed course (this is a course in Adelaide, Australia) that will give you some specific medical skills that you probably didn’t learn at uni!
  • Ask others to pray with you about what sort of preparation would be helpful. We can’t underestimate the importance of prayer and of involving your local church in your preparation.
  • Talk to mission agencies about the preparation they might require of you (see some info from WEC on this site, under ‘I’m ready to go’). Remember to ask if there are options like taking part-time courses while you’re still in Australia, or to do some study on the field.

So what’s the long and short of it? Preparation, if it’s just a nice way of saying ‘I don’t want to go yet’ can be a waste of time. But we all need to be prepared — so get ready in the ways that you need to be, but make sure that when you’re ready, you continue on your pathway to mission: don’t stop now!

Want to talk more?
Used with permission from Neal Pirolo via Ask a missionary

Let me share about three different times my wife and I launched into full-time missions. During one short-term we visited a number of ministries in South America. On one visit I simply realized “We could do this!” My wife and I returned home, and after some prayer and counsel with godly friends, we applied to the agency and they sent us.

Years later, while out of steady work, we were seeking the Lord for His direction in further ministry. I (foolishly, in some people’s eyes) passed by a number of opportunities that seemed so “right.” At the time I couldn’t give a definitive answer for my delay. However, when later invited into the office of a mission agency, the answer became very clear. They had an emergency need. Ten weeks later, my wife and I and our four children were on the field again, filling a very critical need.

During yet another season of life I struggled when I learned that the man for whom I was working did not want me any longer. Though I survived physically, I was an emotional wreck. I needed more than Scriptural assurance of His will for my life. I needed a fleece! Yes, like Gideon, my emotions needed a sign. I said, “Lord, if you really mean for me to be in ministry, without me doing anything to try to make it happen, I need to see three things: The name for the ministry, the thrust of the ministry and the logo.” Twenty-eight days later, in my regular morning reading of the Word, the Lord did just that!

I trust these three very different circumstances in my life give you some additional perspective on your quest for God’s will in your life.

Used with permission of Jack Voelkel on Ask a Missionary

We need to recognize that the Apostle Paul recommended singleness in 1 Corinthians 7 (“he who refrains from marriage will do better” – v. 38). Missionary statesman John Stott opted for singleness so as to be able to give himself more fully to the ministry. He saw this as a personal direction from the Lord, not a pattern for all. Viv Grigg, called to minister in the slums, noted the difficulty of raising a family in such a context.

On the other hand, most missionaries have been married and undoubtedly the majority, if not most, would testify that it has been “an incredible blessing” to be married and raise a family on the mission field. The Christian family needs modeling. Paul’s command for husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands is a universal that fits into any culture. My wife, Mary Anne, and I lived for 17 years in a large house in Bogotá, Colombia that was a student center. We lived on the second floor and prayed that our relationship to each other and as a family would be a positive illustration.

Single ladies who desire marriage face a statistical challenge: single women who remain on the mission field usually don’t marry.

One way to face this issue is through God’s sovereignty. God calls us to follow Him, and among the promises He makes is His presence (“I will never leave you nor forsake you”) and to supply our needs (for which He says His grace is sufficient). He does not promise us spouses. However, if He considers that a spouse is truly our need, He is well able to supply us with one. But risky business from a purely human perspective.

Interestingly enough, I have known cases of single women who have “found husbands” while being career missionaries, and at least one who stayed in the U.S. afraid that she would not find a husband as a missionary, and though she is an attractive women, never has married (she is 50 now).

Good news – everyone who has started in missions has asked this question! We asked 5 missionaries what they thought about this – what they did, or what they think they could have done better, and made a 2 minute video of their response. I hope it helps you (along with the other sections of this site) as you find out where you’re at in your pathway to mission.

Want to talk more? We’ve got even more stories of people who had to work out where they belonged, and we’d love to pray with you as you consider what it means for you.
Very good question! I would have to say – yes God can use you. Sure there are many mission positions that require people to have certain skills e.g. teaching, engineering, medical work etc. but there are just as many positions which need people who are open to do whatever God asks of them. God needs people out in the mission field who are willing to love the unreached, befriend them and show His love to them. You don’t need to be a trained professional to do this.

There are two examples below of professionals who went out to the field but ended up being involved in completely different activities.

  • One of our WEC staff, Steve says, “I left for 12 months in the Gambia as a carpenter, married to a nurse & we said we’d do anything. We were placed as support workers at a small hospital/clinic in a village. I helped keep supplies in stock for the clinic and my wife ran a household of 15 people. We had lots of people come for 3-36 months to help in various ways.”
  • Another, Jan says, ‘I did my nursing training as I thought that would be really useful for missions, after working for 3 years as a nurse in Australia my husband and I spent 8 years in Indonesia. In that 8 years I did many different things including language learning, encouraging national believers, admin support, running short term trips, prayer trips for unreached peoples in our area, friendship evangelism and much more but not any nursing! Was I disappointed you might ask? Actually not really, I was open to whatever God wanted me to do and if that didn’t include nursing that was fine’.

If you love God and are available to Him, He will use you with the skills and gifts that He has given specifically to you. God said to Gideon in Judges 6, “Go in the strength that you have”. I believe this is what he says to us as well. We can make lots of excuses why we are ill equipped and not strong enough to go, but he also said, “When we are weak, He is strong”.

If you would like to talk about this more with a mobiliser near you, let us know and we’ll get back to you.

This is a question many people considering mission ask. You may be asking because you know you can’t go overseas and wish to find out how you can still be involved in mission. Or you may feel God is leading you to be a missionary overseas and you aren’t keen about it and hope you can stay put. Only you can answer this. If it’s the latter then you are not alone. Many Christians would be happy to go overseas – but only as tourists or for secular work. Most are much more hesitant if they feel they are being called to go overseas as missionaries (especially long term).

However, if you are willing to go overseas, but for some reason can’t, there are still plenty of opportunities for mission involvement in your own country. You can:

  • Learn more about the mission scene in general. Check out Mission Agency websites, subscribe to their free magazines (like WEC’s – see here) and join their Facebook and Twitter pages – like WEC’s Facebook and Twitter
  • See if Mission Agencies can use you in their local offices. Most need volunteer personnel – administrators, bookkeepers, member care staff and people to mobilise others into mission. At WEC we are happy to talk to anyone wanting to be involved. Our number for more information is 0800 46 46 86.
  • Join your church’s missionary committee (or help form one) and promote missions in your local church. To read a story about missionary committees click here, and to think about how to help mission become integral to your church, click here.
  • Become an intercessor. Adopt a missionary, receive their news and commit yourself to pray regularly for them and the country they work in. If they are working with a particular people group you can pray for the group as well. Good sources of information about prayer needs for countries and people groups are the Operation World website and the Joshua Project site
  • Financially support your adopted missionary if you can.

The important thing is to listen to God and follow the pathway to mission He has for you – whether in your own country or overseas.

Want to think about or talk through this some more?

There is a great need in many countries for missionaries to come and share God’s love and truth with them, and for Christians to be built up in their faith by other Christians who love Jesus. There are still at least 1.4 billion unreached people in our world who have no choice, no access, and no opportunity to hear about God’s love for them. These people need to hear about Jesus, and missionaries are a big part of the way these people will hear – I wonder if God calling you.

There are many different mission organisations working in lots of different countries with missionaries fulfilling different roles. For example, WEC works in around 80 countries and we have workers from over 50 countries who all bring different gifts, skills and abilities to their teams and God is using them all.

Do you have gifts in evangelism, discipleship, Church planting, Bible teaching or mentoring leaders? Yes – missionaries are needed in these areas.

Are you a teacher, nurse, doctor, vet, physiotherapist, engineer dentist, accountant, IT expert or mechanic? Yes – missionaries are needed in these areas.

Are you willing to teach English as a second language, help with people recovering from addictions, help in orphanages, care for people in need, or home school Missionary Kids? Yes, missionaries are needed to fill positions like these.

There are vacancies in all of the positions listed above and many more. Many missionary teams are crying out for new workers – is God leading you to fill one of these roles? Look around to find something that fits your calling. If you see something that could work for you get in touch with one of our team.

Great question – it seems you’re starting to explore what God meant when he told us that the battle for this world is ‘not against flesh and blood’ (Eph 6:10 – 20) – in fact it’s a great answer to this question in itself!) – watch if you want to be encouraged to keep praying along this line.

Here’s some short videos on prayer using ‘Operation World’ – a great book that gives prayer information for every country of the world. Getting hold of a copy and using it provides a great tool to guide you in your prayers – either to pray through the world’s needs or to strategically pray into one part of the world.  See Operation World website for more info too.

joshuaproject.net and prayercast.com are two offering good resources for prayer.

Someone once said “prayer without work is presumption and work without prayer is pride” – so however you pray, don’t forget to follow it up with your actions – and whenever you pray, ask God to protect missionaries from pride that they can go out without praying! For more on this, get in touch with us.

Good question – I wonder is it even possible to do this. Could someone actually be doing their job in another country and not interact with the new culture, language and local people at all?

I personally think if this interaction is positive then this person is already giving the local people a glimpse of how someone who loves Jesus lives. Already, they have stepped beyond just doing their job. It is interesting to note that the opposite is true, it is really easy to give the local people a bad view of foreigners and Christians if their lifestyle is not true to their beliefs.

In my own experience there is so much more to living overseas than just doing a job, and that God can do great things in us and through us when we are available to Him. It can be harder to take the time to learn the culture and some of the language but the benefits to you personally and to the people around you as you take interest in them and their culture is amazing.

Even if the job is full time there is time to relate to co-workers and build relationships with them that may lead to being able to share about Jesus with them. You can also choose how you spend your free time – is it sitting at home watching DVDs from your home country all evening or is is going out and spending time with your neighbours. In many countries, the unreached people in them have never met a Christian much less had a Christian friend. Here is your chance to show Jesus to someone in another country just by becoming their friend. Likelihood is, you will also be enriched by the friendship.

So, to answer your question – is it just about doing my job in another country? I believe that that is nearly impossible and that just by living as Jesus would have you live and building friendships you would have already gone beyond just doing your job and probably been a great blessing to those you meet.

If you would like to discuss this issue further with one of our mobilisers, we would be happy to be in touch with you.
I believe the answer is yes, but it may not look like a conventional church!

WEC New Zealand defines a local church as a group of believers in a specific locality who:

  • meet together regularly
  • are committed to knowing and obeying God as he is revealed in the Bible
  • help each other obey the commands of Jesus Christ, including being salt and light in their community
  • have a biblically and culturally appropriate structure for leadership and discipline
  • actively share their faith with others, and make disciples

Whatever your church looks like if they are going to send you out in missions, it’s really essential – for your sake and theirs – that they have the resources and ability to be able to support you while you are on the field. A sending church needs to be able to support you in all sorts of ways. For example:

  1. Financial (maybe not 100% of your needs, but at least a portion of your support) – this also increases their ownership of you as a part of their church and ministry. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is all you need a church for (see this article & this one too for a look at this issue).
  2. Prayerful (this is vital for you and your ministry) – they need to be willing to communicate with you regularly, and to share your news with all members of the group.
  3. Advocacy (to stand up for you & your needs) – if they are able to hear about your needs and act then it will help you a lot.

One of our WEC team members, Steve, gives the following example of when his family were overseas for 12 month, which can show how a group of people like a church can help you as you serve:

‘We had 4 families who wrote, emailed, phoned, sent parcels and prayed together as a group as well as individually for us. One couple was moved to call us on the phone at a time when we were particularly struggling.’

Experience shows you do need a committed group of Christians behind you and I would suggest that they need to be able to fill these roles and look similar to what WEC defines as a local church, so that you are well supported and cared for while you are away and when you come home home again.

Great question – it’s encouraging that you are considering this.

As I was thinking about your question, several ideas of varying commitment levels came to mind, take a look at the ideas below and see which one/s would be best to start with in your church.

Actually the first most crucial aspect needed for building mission interest in a church is having someone who is passionate for mission themselves behind this initiative. Several churches that I have talked with confirm the importance of this. If that is you – great.

  1. Form a missions group (can start with 2-3 people) who can plan the next steps and carry them out. See an article here about mission committees for your thinking.
  2. Begin a prayer group for missionaries the church is currently supporting or if there are none, choose an unreached people group to pray for regularly.
  3. Add prayer points for missionaries / unreached peoples in your church bulletin.
  4. Add a missions spot in your church service maybe once a month where you share the needs of some missionaries / unreached people and pray for them.
  5. Hold a missions night for the youth group or the whole church (chat to us via the ‘respond’ button below if you would like some ideas for this)
  6. Encourage members of the congregation to participate in a missions course e.g. Perspectives, Kairos
  7. As a church adopt an unreached people group that you will commit to pray for regularly, send a short term team, maybe even a long term worker to this group (contact someone via the ‘respond’ button below for more information on unreached people groups)
  8. Encourage your church leadership to hold one of WEC’s Glocal workshops. God’s heart for world mission would be a great place to start.

These are just some of the ideas I have had to get you started thinking about this important area in your church, if you are interested in chatting about this further, contact us and one of our team will be in touch with you.

Here’s an article to get you started in your thinking. For some people as they go, they’re blessed to have parents who support them. For others, especially where parents are not believers, it’s a lot harder.

It will help to think about these things:

  • If it’s possible, involve them in your decision-making from as early as possible. You can see it’s hard for them if you just rock up to say, ‘I’m moving to Calathumpa tomorrow’.
  • Recognise it is hard for them, and pray for God to encourage them. Ask them to pray for you.
  • Help your parents understand why you’re taking this step.
  • Get the tourist brochures out — nothing appeals like knowing they’ll have an excuse to travel to beautiful parts of the world!
  • Show them how you’ll be cared for and supported while you’re away.
  • Recognise that although it might be hard, God’s call has to be the keystone for our life. Passages like Matthew 12:47-50 and Matthew 19:27-30 might be hard, but they are the Word of God.
  • However your parents respond – and you are not responsible for that – you are still called to honour them.
  • There are a few sites around like this one (in the USA) that bring parents of missionaries together; maybe you could suggest that. They’ve even written a book which you can read about here.

Still thinking? Get in touch with us.

I think so – but you need to make a decision for yourself. Here are a few thoughts to help with your deliberation.

Some disadvantages of agencies:

  • Mission agencies have many requirements. It can certainly take a long time to do the training, go through the application process, find the financial support etc. It may be years! Meanwhile people are dying without the opportunity to hear about Jesus.
  • ‘God has called me to a special task in a special place.’ Working with a mission agency could well involve compromising your vision, or at least waiting a while before you can get to your special place.
  • A quote: “The best thing about being independent of an agency was the flexibility I had to make my own decisions about jobs, locations, trips home etc. The disadvantage was the lack of community and therefore accountability.” (Tania)

Some advantages of agencies:

  • Going with an agency means a team to work with. Teams can be hard work, but teams mean others to be accountable to, to share the load, to be a support and encouragement on location.
  • Mission agencies usually have experience in that location. The wisdom of experience can prevent a lot of cultural blunders and means you don’t have to waste time going through the basics time after time.
  • Another quote: “There were many pros: the agency was well established in the area, so they had nationals who could keep us safe by knowing about trouble on the horizon. They also knew what I would need and important cultural things to be aware of. The cons could include agency politics and sometimes conflicting priorities.” (Rachel.)
  • Going with a mission agency means support for the difficult times, as well as the good. Pastoral care is close at hand and usually conferences for teaching and encouragement. Most agencies will have procedures in place for if something goes wrong in your country.
Carefully! My mum always said you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. A mission is like a family and you do get to choose it. It’s great being part of something bigger than yourself and knowing your contribution is just part of the whole. Several things to keep in mind:

  • Do they work where you would like to work? If so, what ministries are they doing there? Do they suit your gifting and is the ministry effective? In the end you work overseas, so it’s really important you can fit in well with the team you will work with. Some missions have multicultural teams; this is great but also comes with difficulties.
  • Some missions focus on evangelism and church planting, some theological training, some Bible translation and some social justice issues. It’s all good, but you can’t do it all and you don’t have to.
  • What’s their member care like? When you prepare to go overseas and when you come home what processes has the mission in place to help you? To survive long-term in mission these factors are very important.
  • Will they equip you to serve? Many missions require some Bible training beforehand. Some don’t. Some equip you on the road in cross-cultural training. What you need will differ from everyone else. It depends on the ministry you will do and the path you take.
  • Talk to people in the mission and ask them hard questions. Why should I join your mission? Is it effective? Are you glad you joined? Why wouldn’t I join? Also find someone not connected to the mission for a different perspective.
  • Last, what is God saying? I can’t answer that for you. Chances are He is leading you already — now that’s exciting.

Want to ask these questions of WEC? We’d love to answer them – contact us and let’s talk some more. Also take a look around our website where we’ve tried to answer some of these questions.

Now that you’re thinking about mission agencies on your pathway, we’d like to introduce ourselves. Here’s a video of five WEC missionaries…

telling you what they like about WEC.

We have over 100 teams in more than 70 countries

What’s more, these teams are made up of people from more than 50 nationalities and many denominations.

Our core is evangelism and church planting among people who have little or no opportunity to hear about Jesus. The way that it’s done may be different in every one of those 100 teams.

Take Betel for example. They want to see people freed from addictions, come to faith in Jesus and form communities of believers. Over 50 pastors today in Betel churches come from a background of addiction (great video here).

Another example is our brand new work in Guinea where the team settle in a Fula village and live with the people for the time of language and culture learning. The living conditions are basic with an emphasis on meeting people where they are.

We’re big on team, on fellowship, and on caring for you (and empowering your church to care for you as well) while you’re serving as a missionary. We make decisions together based on what God says to us right where we are serving, and we trust in God for every part of our work including finances.

We can’t really do justice to ourselves in this little page, but hopefully that helps. Visit our website or even better, let us shout you a coffee to talk more. Phone 0800 46 46 86 or give us your details here and we will get back to you — we’d love to tell you more.

Ever since WEC began in 1913, we have had a heart for the unreached people of the world. There are at least 1.4 billion unreached people in our world who have no choice, no access, and no opportunity to hear about God’s love for them. Watch this video to see WEC’s purpose.

Motivated by this, we currently have around 1800 workers from over 50 nationalities serving in more than 70 different countries. Amongst these we have 101 teams working among different unreached people groups (one country can have several unreached people groups in it, so WEC may have more than one team in a country).

Check out this list of some of the countries we are currently focussing on.

We’re trusting God for 1200 new people to join us in the next 8 years — Maybe you will be in of the 1200 new people — click on the ‘respond’ button to talk to someone about where we work and how you can be involved.

First, we believe that everyone on this earth needs to hear about Jesus. And we believe that every Christian is called to have a part to play in sharing the gospel. That includes you — whether you end up overseas or not. We put the needs of people who don’t have choice, access or opportunity to the gospel first — that is our heartbeat.

If you want the lowdown on more intricacies, like our statement of faith and the values we hold dear or just questions about who we are, take a look here on our website. If your question isn’t there, get in touch with us via the ‘respond’ button below and tell us what you want to know.

WEC provides a lot of support for our missionaries, but not, as you may be thinking, in terms of a wage or salary. All people ministering with WEC are volunteers, some full-time and others part-time. WEC missionaries look to God to provide their support. Time and time again He has proved faithful in doing so. However, WEC does provide support in other ways. Our Candidates Team give two months of hands-on orientation into WEC and to church planting in a cross-cultural environment. They also have a stack of resources to help you be more effective while you’re on the field. We all want to keep learning and growing, and the journey team wants to continue to help develop you. Our Member Care Team works closely with sending churches to ensure that WEC members receive adequate prayer and financial support, plus regular encouragement and communication from their sending church. Our NZ headquarters staff provide a range of supports and a means by which missionaries’ support can be sent to them overseas. This team also provides information about medical insurance, tax and other financial matters relevant to missionaries. Want to know more? Get in touch here.
Every mission agency has a different policy about money. That’s one of the great things — you can check them all out and ask them the hard questions (and you should because you need to be comfortable with the group you work with).

Having said that, when I read the Bible I don’t see anyone who said, ‘I can’t do what God wants because I don’t have enough money’. And I’ve very rarely met a missionary who says that their biggest burden is finances, or that they left missions solely because of finances. Speaking of finances, Paul tells us that he chose to be content ‘in every circumstance’ (Philippians 4:9). He does, however, give the church a less than gentle reminder in 1 Corinthians 9 that it is their responsibility to work with him financially.

Think about all that and let us know what you’re wondering. To give you an idea about WEC’s policy, people ministering in WEC don’t have to raise a certain amount of money before they can move into ministry, except for costs mentioned below.

However, if you are going on a short-term WEC Trek (10 days to two weeks for groups and one month to two years for individuals) you will need to have enough money for your pre-field orientation, air fares, travel insurance, visa and vaccinations. You will also need to have enough support (or promised support) for your accommodation, food, on-field orientation, communication costs, personal items and possibly language learning and field conference costs. The later two will depend on your length of stay.

If you join WEC as a long-term member, you will need to have your plane ticket, set up costs, several months living expenses and a good indication of continued support before leaving for your area of ministry for the first time. Costs will vary between fields. See also our information page regarding finances.

Good question with lots of answers! Missions can be from one week to the rest of your life.

There are great advantages in going short-term: there are opportunities to make contacts for the long-term workers, fill a need for the long-term team, e.g. computer training for six months or treasurer for a year, and blessing the long-term workers by home schooling their children, and encouraging them. But there are limitations to going short-term; it takes time to learn language and culture and to build relationships and your short-term trip might be over before you’ve done this.

People are needed in mission who are there for the long haul so they can learn the language and the culture sufficiently. Then they will have an understanding of the people and be able to share the Gospel with them effectively. In many cultures it takes time to build credibility and relationships.

I encourage you to seek the Lord for how long He wants you to give to Him for missions, after all, He is the Lord of the harvest.

If you would like to talk more about this, we will be in touch with you.
This is an important question to ask as you explore different mission agencies. First, WEC can provide plenty of opportunities for service. With workers in more than 70 countries there are many places where your gifts and skills can be used.

Second, WEC has experienced people available to help you at different stages along your pathway to mission.

  • Our Mobilisers are there to meet with you and mentor you as you seek God’s will. Short-term or long-term, we can help you work out the best way forward. We will help find a placement in one of WEC’s 101 teams (yes, there really are 101 with a vision for many more). Our aim is to find a good fit between you and a great team. Careful preparation before going is very important and our mobilisers will work with you and your church to prepare you.
  • If you are going short-term (a WEC Trek), our mobilisers give orientation and help you work through the logistics of going. Then they will keep in touch with you while you are away and debrief you once you return.
  • Our college in Gordonton, Eastwest College for Intercultural Studies gives thorough training in cross-cultural mission as well as theology if you decide to go down that path.
  • If you plan to join WEC and serve long-term, our candididates directors run our residential Candidates’ Orientation in Gordonton. We also have lots of resources to help you grow in understanding while you’re on the field.
  • Our Member Care team works closely with your church to ensure you are adequately supported in prayer, communication, advocacy and finance while on the field.
  • Our treasurer provide a means by which your financial support can be sent to you free of charge. They also provide advice on financial matters relating to missions such as travel insurance and tax.

WEC understands that being a missionary is not something that you can do alone. We provide many ways to help you get where God wants you and have a positive and fruitful mission experience. Want to know more? We’ll be in touch.

Let me try the question you’re probably really thinking: Does WEC need me to do ‘formal’, ‘accredited,’ or ‘theological’ training before I go long-term?

Strictly speaking, WEC does not require you to do formal accredited theological training before you go. What we do require is that you have a ‘comprehensive knowledge of the Bible and evidence of application of biblical principles in every day life’. What that looks like is different in every situation, so talk to us. If you haven’t had training, it’s likely you’ll need it sometime in your service for your own good and to meet our requirements.

Other things that are likely to help you meet the criteria are something like complete a in Perspectives in World Mission or a Kairos Course, regularly coming under sound Biblical teaching at your local church and engaging in regular Bible study (individually or corporately). It is also recommended that a short Introductory Course for Language Learning and Translation be done.

WEC then requires that you complete the WEC Candidate Orientation in Gordonton over three months to familiarize yourself with principles of cross-cultural church planting, with ‘WEC Principles and Practices’ and with issues related to cross-cultural ministry prior to you engaging in such ministry overseas.

Simple, right? Well, just to add in to the mix, there are 70+ WEC fields worldwide. Each field is autonomous but accountable to the larger WEC body called WEC International, and that means some fields do have additional training requirements. For example, one field where Islam is the predominant religion requires workers to do two years of theological training before they arrive, because they know the issues that people will face require a deeper level of Biblical understanding.

However, this training doesn’t need to be done in one big swoop on site. It can be done in residence or by correspondence, full-time or part-time, at one college or several. WEC has all these details should you wish to pursue cross-cultural mission.

This isn’t easy to ‘see’ in writing, but our heart is that you’re prepared best — and we’d love to talk about that more. Get in touch so we can talk more and devise a plan just for you.

A good question and a very necessary one! Here are some ideas; contact us for more!

  • Your church leaders can give you opportunities to share your passion and purpose with the whole church and also with smaller groups, e.g. Sunday school, youth group, young adults, Bible study, men’s and ladies’ groups.
  • They can have you publicly recognised as someone they are pleased to have representing them elsewhere in the world.
  • They should delegate someone from the church to remain in regular contact with you to distribute any urgent matters for prayer.
  • They could appoint someone to handle your finances for you, if necessary.
  • They will agree to work with the agency to address any on-field problems involving you, based on healthy, open communication and mutual respect.
  • Before you go, they should be aware of procedures necessary for the resolving of crisis situations such as health emergencies, evacuations, physical attack etc.
  • Your church can really help you by having regular prayer for you in services and by starting to give financial support well before you depart.
  • Your leaders should stay in touch with you to know how you’re doing. You can help by asking for a monthly get-together. They need to encourage and provide counsel where necessary.
  • They may be able to provide you with opportunities to do some counselor training, preaching and pastoral visitation to sharpen your skills.

But it’s not all about ‘the church’ — you should get back to your agency and see what else they would like your church to do. Like a triangle with three sides — the church, you and your agency — the sending isn’t complete without all three. Contact us to get to know more about how WEC does this.

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