God has called all believers to go and make disciples.
Every believer is called to intentionally move toward people to demonstrate God’s love, share His plan of redemption through Jesus, and mutually grow in relationship with Him in covenant community. This command is summed up by the passage of Scripture known as the Great Commission, where Jesus tells His people to go and make disciples.
So, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you have been called to be a witness to the world in the ways you live, work, and play – pointing others toward Him.
If all Christians are to be a witness, what’s different about being a missionary?
A missionary is one whom God sets apart to serve as a vocation or for a season of life wholly dedicated to ministry and often supported financially by God’s people.
This is modeled by the early Church in Acts 13:2-5 as they prayerfully send out Saul (also called Paul) and Barnabas, whom God has “called” for this purpose:
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
The hows and wheres are different for everyone, and they can change over time as believers grow and God introduces new opportunities to participate in His kingdom – locally and globally.
Live each day in obedient pursuit of the God who calls!
How do I know I should be a missionary?
Used in a spiritual sense, “calling” is a term for what is ultimately a growing sense of God’s leading in the life of a believer as that individual grows in faith, self-knowledge, and spiritual understanding.
As you develop a deeper relationship with Jesus, you might find that you feel a growing heart of compassion for a certain people, place, need, or cause. You may also start noticing the way your past spiritual growth, work, and life experiences have especially prepared you to minister to others in a unique way. You might start to feel a particular passion or burden of responsibility to respond to a particular need. You enjoy cultivating relationships with others and discipling new and growing believers. In addition, your church as well as others involved in your spiritual life may recognize you as someone who could be a missionary. All of these experiences work together to help you discern the next step God is leading you to take.
Following Jesus means placing our lives obediently in God’s hands, letting Him direct our paths and weave our small stories into His great big one.
For some believers, that role is in global mission—sent by their churches to live, work, and disciple others in places around the world where God can use all they have placed in His hands to grow His local Church.
SIM USA offers support, resources, and guidance to believers who are sent by their church to go in partnership with SIM, as well as to the churches who send them.
What do I do while I discern how God is leading me?
We know the idea of pursuing cross-cultural mission work comes with a lot of questions, and the path to learning more is not always clearly defined.
As you pursue answers to your questions and consider how God may be leading you, here are ways to engage that can help bring clarity and insight along with relevant experience.
- As you continue to spend time with the Lord in prayer, Scripture, and contemplative reflection, ask the Father to make your heart and mind increasingly sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit – moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day.
- Cultivate your relationship with the Holy Spirit and learn more about the ways He works in the world and in your life. Ask Him to make your heart more and more like the heart of Jesus. Pray that He would give you wisdom to know how to respond when you sense Him prompting you toward action in your everyday life.
- Pray for global mission! Begin a habit of praying regularly for the missionaries, ministries, and projects you may already know personally or through your church. Pray for your church’s mission program and ask God to send more workers through your congregation.
- Pray for different countries, people groups, or needs as God deepens your heart for the nations and for those who are living without the access to a Christian or the Word of God.
- Pray Matthew 9:38! Pray for God to send more workers into His harvest. Lift up others who are on the journey of discernment and may be moving toward global mission.
- Ask trusted friends, family, and church leaders to pray for you and with you about the way God is leading you.
- Talk to the people who know you best — your family, your friends, your pastor — people close to us often see things in us that we don’t.
- Connect with leaders and pastors at your church. Ask about ways to learn more about mission work. Learn what your church is already doing, how you can get involved, and find discipleship and development opportunities for people interested in participating in global mission.
- Learn about different ways to go and the ways God might use what you bring to the table to grow His church worldwide. Read stories and watch videos about mission workers, ministries, and least-reached people groups.
You shouldn’t wait until you’re sent to another country to begin serving the Lord and exploring the ways He can use your skills, interests, and passions to grow His kingdom!
By faithfully engaging in ministry where you are now, you may begin to sense how God could be shaping and leading you toward full-time service in the future.
- Gain hands-on experience through volunteer ministry roles at your church or by serving through organizations in your community.
- With experience under your belt, seek to grow your interpersonal and leadership skills. Consider enhancing your abilities with the help of a ministry mentor and external learning opportunities.
- Minister to people now through intentional discipleship activities: read the Bible with them, convene a prayer group, mentor someone new to the faith, lead a Scripture study or Sunday school class, or open up your home and your own spiritual journey to seeking neighbors, friends or coworkers as the Holy Spirit leads.
- Join with others in your church to engage in cross-cultural outreach in your community. Learn more about evangelism through videos, books, or classes, and join others who are intentionally seeking to introduce people to Jesus.
- Additionally, support and further the impact of overseas ministries by going and serving short-term with your church or through SIM USA. Pray for and financially support others whom God is leading to go!
You don’t have to be ready to buy a one-way ticket to start a conversation with SIM USA!
Consider this your invitation to simply learn more about what it would be like to say “yes” to God for ministry abroad.