Missions is intimidating.
It’s big, it’s challenging, it’s expensive, and it takes a lot of work and a lot of people. We know this is true. This is not new in missions. The challenge in knowing these truths, however, is that they often keep people like you and me from finding our role in missions. I know that was my personal favorite excuse for years. “Well I just don’t know anything, I’ll get in the way and do more harm than good so I’ll leave the missions stuff to the missions people. It’s just too big for me.”
Maybe, you’re like me. Maybe, you just have no idea where to start (that is ok, this is a good place to be). Or maybe, more likely, you aren’t like me. You know that there is a role for you to play. You want to take it. You know that The Great Commission is for every believer in every stage regardless of who they are. The problem for you is that you don’t know how God wants to use you in the grand task of ending missions– you just aren’t sure of your role.
Let me first encourage you- you do have a role to play. God, in His sovereignty, has designated a role just for you and for this time of your life. I had a pastor who often would encourage people (especially young adults and college students) by saying, “God has uniquely placed you and divinely wired you for such a time as this.” As cheesy as it may sound, there is only one you, created the way you were created, placed where you have been placed. God did that on purpose.
As we each search for our specific role though, too often the only stories we hear are of the grandiose, dramatic, life-changing, turn-everything-upside-down moments where a 6-figure professional quits their job to move overseas, or a student a semester from graduation changes their major to study the bible instead. These are amazing stories. They are transformative and beautiful and evidence of the work of a life-changing God.
But these stories are not the requirement; they are certainly not the standard.
Most often, it seems, God stirs hearts in the mundane. He stirs hearts where they are, to use them in a grand way, for His glory, but without the necessity of a front-page news story to symbolize their faith. What I hope is encouraging to you as you are seeking your role is this: you do not need to change your major, change your career, or change your geography to help end missions (but you might… more on that below). Those are not necessarily the things God is after. God doesn’t need your degree, He doesn’t need your career, and He doesn’t need your geographic location. Really, above all else, above where you go, what you do, and who you know, God is after your heart. When He truly has your heart, He
can will use you, regardless of those factors, to end missions.
You don’t need to change your major…
Believe it or not, studying the Bible in college isn’t the golden ticket to effectiveness in missions. It certainly is good, it’s worthwhile, and it can serve God’s purposes greatly, but a Bible degree is not the gold standard in God’s work to end missions. Instead, maybe we should think more about what it looks like to give God your heart in college, regardless of your major. As you wonder what to study in college, or as you think about what you are currently studying, consider a few of these things:
- Billions of unreached people live in closed countries (countries where being a missionary is illegal or severely restricted). In most of these places, a Bible degree can effectively bar you from entering and block you from getting a visa. At the very best- it will keep you under intense oversight and scrutiny from the local authorities.
- People getting Bible degrees usually already know Jesus. Another field of study could allow you to rub shoulders, build relationships, and share Jesus with people who don’t yet know him!
- Typically- the careers related to Bible degrees don’t often make as much money as many other career paths. God could be using your non-religious degree to position you to financially send and support missionaries in ways that others couldn’t (more on this in the career section.)
How can God use your degree, your program, your field of study, and your career path for His glory? How might he have oriented your interests and passions and talents to serve His global purposes? These are the questions we ought to be asking ourselves and other young adults as we look to leverage our lives to see His glory praised among all nations.
You don’t need to change your career…
Life as a missionary is not inherently holier than life as an accountant, or a CEO, or a teacher, or a homemaker, or anything else! Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. As we said earlier- God has uniquely placed and divinely wired you for such a time as this- for such a job as the one you have right now. His mandate is certainly not that everyone quit their job and fly across the globe. However, His mandate does mean that regardless of your job- there is a role for you to play in missions that you ought to be engaged in, that your heart must be invested in.
Are you an accountant? How can God use your relationships with your coworkers for His glory? Are you a teacher? How can God use your role to love and serve the next generation, setting an example of Christlikeness in some of their most formative years? Are you a homemaker? How can God use you to disciple and raise your children, one of the most significant tasks anyone could take on! Are you an entrepreneur? How can you strategically create businesses that support missions or work alongside missionaries? (This is literally the story of AIRO!) And underlying all of these, how might God be able to use any career and professional life if you were to trust Him entirely with your finances? Where might He be blessing you to give more to support those who are going?
There is rich opportunity and rich possibility in the missions space for the professionals of the world. Don’t ever feel as if your role or your career is ‘less than’ those around you if you are in this space. When God has your heart in the midst of your professional life, He can use it to have a significant impact in ending missions.
You don’t need to change your geography…
Is everyone called to go? Certainly not. If everyone were to go then who would be left to send? To support? To encourage? To love and serve those here that are yet to know and trust Jesus? To go undoubtedly is a noble and holy calling but it is not the only noble and holy calling and it is not the work that God calls all of His people to do. As you consider your role in missions, know that there is an immense number of significant roles you can play, and the majority of them happen in your neighborhoods, cities, and circles where you are located right now! Here are just a few of the roles you can play without ever changing your geography:
- Going Here | International students, refugees, immigrants… These are just a few of the groups of internationals that may be living in your neighborhood. Oftentimes, many of the people in these groups have come here from some of the most difficult places in the world to reach, places where they would never hear the name of Jesus. How can you spend your time welcoming international students into your home for a meal, having tea and exchanging stories with a refugee, or building relationships with internationals who live in your city? There are so many groups desperate for local workers to join them in loving, serving, and sharing Jesus with those He has brought near to us!
- Mobilizing | Perhaps, by God’s grace, you have been converted to missions. Maybe there was a transformational moment in your life or a leader that took the time to share with you God’s heart for the nations. However, in reality, 83% of American churchgoers don’t know The Great Commissions or their role in it! It doesn’t take a geography change to spend your time sharing with those in your church or small group about God’s heart for the nations and how they have a role to play in The Great Commission too! You can even help connect them with resources to pray, send, and serve here! Mobilizing God’s people for God’s work is a great role to play right where you are!
- Sending | If you need more encouragement on the role you can play in sending by giving, read the sections above! This happens right where you are and doesn’t require you to change your geography at all!
- Praying | No matter where you are, whether you change your geography or not, at home, at work, in the car, or anywhere in between, praying is a role for you to play. Colossians says to continue steadfastly in prayer and 1 Thessalonians says to pray without ceasing! We are blessed to have a God that hears our prayers and responds to them! Pray often for the nations, pray often for missionaries who are laboring in the most difficult places, pray for their families, pray for more laborers to be raised up for the harvest in the spirit of Matthew 9:38, pray fervently for Jesus to save those who are furthest from him and who are most unreached by the gospel. Pray as often as you can. This role is for everyone and is the easiest place to start!
I would be foolish if I wasn’t to at least give some kind of disclaimer here. While I do hold, that in most cases drastic life changes are not always (or least not immediately) necessary and that God will still use your life if He has your heart right where you are- these changes might become necessary for you!
God does call many and lead many to leave everything behind and go, to sell what they have, to change their career path, to change the direction of their education; these are not uncommon things! After all, there are over 3 billion unreached people in the world, and to reach them will take many more missionaries than are currently going.
So keep this in mind as you are searching for your role. While some of these major life changes may not be immediately necessary for you and while where you are right now, in the job you are doing, in the place where you live may be a great place to start playing your role, there very well may come a time when God asks you for something different! Perhaps, even something that does require a significant life change! If He truly has your heart this will not come as a surprise, and as your desires align with His, I believe that the burden for those furthest from Him to be saved will far outweigh the physical ties we have to our current life.
The great task of missions is daunting, but it is worthwhile. It is challenging but it is rewarding. Regardless of who you are, where you are, or what you do, you have a role to play in missions. You have the opportunity to leverage your life for the sake of God’s global purpose. By giving your heart to Him, in your school, in your career, in your neighborhood, or in your home, there is great potential for significant Gospel impact.
Finding your role in missions does not necessarily mean that you need to change your major, change your career, or change your geography. But, giving your heart to God, putting your ‘yes’ on the table, means that you are giving Him your life – your whole life – to do whatever He wants with it! There is no greater thing to give your life to.