Can I use my skills and passions in cross-cultural ministry?
Do you have a place for me to use my skills and talents in cross-cultural ministry? Can I use my interests and talents to serve as a missionary? I have heard these questions many times in the last 20 years since I first served in missions. In fact, I asked myself a similar question when someone at church challenged me to consider serving God overseas. After all these years, I have a simple, straightforward answer — “Yes and also… No”. I’ll explain what I mean, but first, I have a more important question for you to consider. Are you willing?
Yes! You can use your skills and passions to serve in cross-cultural ministry.
Currently, in the SIM network, we have over 2,000 placements waiting to be filled by Christian workers in over 65 countries. People are praying and asking that God bring His workers into their countries to come and share Christ. They ask for teachers, students, carpenters, CPAs, dentists, data processors, office workers, obstetricians, plumbers, pastors, shopkeepers, surgeons, stay-at-home moms, butchers, bakers and candy makers…see more at Skills & Interests | SIM USA. The list goes on… and on…that’s what I mean when I confidentially say, “Yes!” We have a place for you to use your skills. But again, the question remains: Are you willing?
The right place for my skills and passions in cross-cultural ministry.
What do I mean when I say “Yes and also… No?” Well, there may be a need in cross-cultural ministry for your skills and passions in a location, but there may be challenges to what that can look like in a local context. For example, my family and I lived in a country where many people needed medical treatment but couldn’t afford to pay. If you possessed medical skills and had a passion for helping others, you could certainly stay busy and provide much-needed assistance, even saving lives for the many in desperate need of help. But, in this same country, it was very difficult to practice medicine in an official capacity with your nameplate on a door as a foreign resident. If you decided to use your skills and passions in this place, you would have to do so without professional recognition. Are you willing?
Using your skills and passions may look “outside the box” in ministry.
What else do I mean when I say “Yes and also… No?” Being flexible in cross-cultural ministry is essential. There are times when cross-cultural ministry doesn’t look like we expect. When this happens, we must think “outside the box.” My husband is a retired Naval officer, a highly skilled and trained nuclear engineer formerly in the USN Submarine fleet. He has a BA in Mechanical Engineering, a Masters in Naval Nuclear Architecture, another Masters in Marine Engineering and a PhD from MIT in propeller design. We imagined that he would use these credentials and experience to open doors and provide us with an overseas career as we loved others and testified to God’s work in our lives. He never once held an engineering job while overseas in more than 12 years. But he used his engineering training and skills almost daily, following his passion for problem-solving in the most unusual ways.
Once, he fixed my Toshiba laptop using sewing thread and double-stick tape! That computer lasted another two years! Once, as we were broken down in the desert, he fixed our car with objects we found alongside the highway. He used his “outside the box” thinking to make a way where there seemed to be no way, providing opportunities for many to come and join us. These are skills that God has given him. My husband was willing to be a language student, a house husband on a spouse visa, an instrument maker, a book translator, a fruit leather producer, a business owner and a bean counter; all to serve God and share His love with others. He was and is willing to serve God in any capacity in any place God wants. Are you willing?
Can God use you outside of your skills and passions?
Sometimes God asks us to do something for His glory outside our skill set. When we serve as a missionary cross-culturally, we have to be flexible. For example, I have led worship on several occasions. This may not seem like a big deal, but I can’t sing, and I am firmly in the ‘joyful noise unto the Lord’ category. It has been stretching and humbling for me to serve God and others in a way I am not gifted. And it always reminds me that everything I have to offer is supplied by God Himself. My skills, passions, experience, and gifts are all from God and enabled by Him.
And in these circumstances, I must ask myself if I am willing to serve God outside my abilities. I love the testimony of Nehemiah (Chapter 3), which also illustrates this example. God decided that He would use goldsmiths, perfumers, governmental rulers (and their daughters), priests, temple servants, guards and merchants, and stone masons to repair and build His wall for His glory. These are people who willingly worked outside of their skills and interests for God. Are you willing?
Are you ready to be stretched to serve God in ministry overseas?
You never know what skills the Lord will use when you serve overseas. When I was asked about considering serving God overseas, I was married, a full-time mom, homemaker and homeschool teacher with a few years’ experience. In college, I studied computer languages, fine arts and advertising at different stages but hadn’t yet completed any formal degree. My previous work experience was just as varied. I put together circuit boards, was a restaurant server, math tutor, caterer, and ended up in grocery department management. What could I do? How could God use these skills and experiences? I didn’t know, but I was willing. In that willingness, God took my family and me to serve cross-culturally to teach English, bake cookies, bless the blind, play with children, learn a language, dry fruit, mentor moms, open a library and then a community center, source fabric and provide fast fashion for export, and so much more.
God used all these things to share His love. It was often humbling and well beyond my abilities. It was definitely God who did these things, and I was blessed. I don’t have enough words to describe what a gift it was to me and my family to serve God in this way.
Explore the different opportunities available right now. Check out our Skills & Interests page.
My prayer for you in considering cross-cultural ministry.
As you consider going overseas and serving in cross-cultural ministry, I pray that you stop and ask yourself: “Am I willing?” Will you do whatever He calls you to do?
Have more questions about using your skills and passions to serve God in cross-cultural ministry?
- Where can I use my skills in missionary work overseas?
- How can my passions be useful in cross-cultural ministry?
- Can you tell me more about places and opportunities for missionary work overseas?
- Can I choose where I go to serve in cross-cultural ministry?
- When can I get started?
Connect with us today. Let’s talk about it. Follow this link, Connect With Us | SIM USA to get the conversation started.
Michelle moved overseas with her husband and two teenage daughters to share the love of Christ with those who had not yet heard of Him. They lived cross-culturally for 12 years, first learning the national language and then a minority language. She currently works in recruitment helping SIM workers share their experiences with others and invite them to join us in His harvest fields.