Becoming a missionary, or participating in any form of missions, comes with its share of fears, or apparent obstacles. I sometimes hear the lines from the movie Home Alone: “Are you scared, Marv? Are you afraid?” in Joe Pesci’s voice in my head when I get nervous (Surely, it couldn’t be a result of my watching “Home Alone” too many times every holiday season). And sometimes, his voice crops up when I think about becoming a missionary. But why? What’s so scary about that? Oh, just one or two – or maybe 10 – things! Fears about joining the mission field are universal. Each person’s spirit pauses at some point.
While everyone’s missions journey looks different, many of their concerns or misconceptions are the same. Take heart knowing that others have felt similarly!
Here are just a few concerns you may have experienced about becoming a missionary:
The thought of fundraising can scare off even the most confident prospective missionary. Very few people enjoy being on either end of The Money Question, but I think asking for it is often tougher. Fear of the person saying “no” – or even saying “yes” – can be intimidating.
When I fundraise for short-term mission trips, my church encourages us not to pay out of pocket, even if we have the funds to do so. For one thing, it’s not a vacation, and for another, it deprives God of blessing us through the people that care about us. If God wants us to go, short-term or long-term, he will provide the funding.
Similarly, we may worry that the amount we fundraise (or don’t) will require us to downsize…significantly. This certainly may be the case, but it also may not be. A given monthly income produces one standard of living in the U.S., and an entirely different one elsewhere.
Your budget will also vary based on whether you go to the nations through a sending agency or on your own. Many sending agencies wait to send their missionaries on the field until a certain minimum percentage of monthly income is met. You don’t have to determine or meet it solo – take advantage of the wisdom of those who have gone before you!
2. Putting our relationship with God on hold
We may even minimize the importance of deepening our relationship with God before we head out on the mission field. Here’s a question to ponder: if you don’t prioritize it now, will you prioritize it then?
Your departure to your destination of choice will kick-start a bajillion changes. Closeness with God now will set a foundation for you post departure. Jet lag will be the least of your worries as you settle in to a possibly wildly different culture; the changes you experience need to propel you toward God, not away from Him. The more time you spend in the Word now, the better. Besides – the reason any of us should go is because of Him. If we aren’t spending time with the One whose love compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14) our ministry’s effectiveness is directly impacted.
3. Fear of location or persecution
Growing up, I remember a missionary couple returning on furlough from Papua New Guinea. They visited our church and gave updates on their work. I was petrified that God would call me to long-term missions in a similar location, praying instead that if missions work was my calling, could He maybe choose our other supported missionaries’ location – Windsor, England? That’d be great, God.
Many locations may not be our version of ideal, and may even involve persecution to some degree. But wherever God calls you, He will equip you.
Your story may look like Jim Elliot’s or Nate Saint’s; then again, it may look more like that of my missionary friends in Windsor. Wherever God calls you, it will be YOUR calling. Rather than read someone else’s calling into yours, assuming the two will be the same, call to mind Aslan’s words in C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy: “‘Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.’”
God is writing your story – live it out, not someone else’s. Lean into Him at every step of this journey, trusting Him to make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
If you’d like to talk through some of these fears, or any others, about becoming a missionary, fill out a profile with MissionNext and get connected with a Journey Guide!