I remember the excitement of exploring the booths set up by different missions organizations, then pondering each one’s pros and cons while big-name speakers inspired me with messages and stories that urged us to GO. But I’m not sure I always took full advantage of those opportunities to interact with all those mobilizers. My list of questions seemed to end at, “What questions should I ask? What are they expecting of me? How do I know if their organization is a good fit for me?”
For y’all headed into conferences on campus, I’ve got a bit of advice.
Identify Your Gifts
Write up a quick list of what you think you could offer in a cross-cultural ministry setting. (Are you studying Arabic? Is it your computer prowess, photographic eye, business savvy? Can you find potential where others only see obstacles?) Take that list and add five more things. Don’t shortchange God here. Can you bake mouthwatering muffins? Add it. Have you recently taken up the ukulele? You may not believe it, but God wants to use those unique gifts you’ve got.
Describe Your Dream
Then, describe your ideal missions situation. Do you imagine working in a city in France, ministering among nomads in the Middle East or teaching refugees in Michigan? Is joining an established team important to you?
Take those two lists and come up with a few questions you could intelligently ask one of those nice, smiley people standing behind tables at these conferences. And then ask them! Maybe you’ve realized you want to start a cooking class to teach life skills to teenagers in the Far East. Or, maybe all you know is that you really want to try cross-cultural ministry, but just for a year or two before you take a bigger step.
Remember that cross-cultural workers are normal people. They come with skills and talents and plenty of imperfections, like you. They sin and repent. They range in IQs and don’t always love their neighbors as well as they should. But they love Jesus.
So right now, get it out of your mind that all those people standing at those booths on campus are like talent scouts, seeking the crème de la crème of students. They are looking for someone with a heart to serve, a desire to become more like Christ and a passion to love others and to love God better.
And what I know about you is this: You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are imperfect, but God will use your uniqueness to demonstrate His love to others if you are open to that. Cling to that truth and go ask your questions!
Traveling with you,
Laura lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she freelances in various capacities, leads worship at her church and hangs with her adorably photogenic dog named Kimchi. She’s well acquainted with the chaos of trying to determine what to do in life.
Laura went to Bible college, where she explored cross-cultural ministry through classes, conferences and lots of practical application. After college she went to grad school, taught, went to South Korea for a year, worked for Christar, then spent a good chunk of the last decade working with international students in high school and college in the U.S.
She would love to journey with you as you consider missions—because she’s been there. Because reaching the nations is going to look different than it did in centuries past. And she wants you to be a part of it.