So you’re interested in overseas missions? You aren’t sure, but have a sneaking suspicion that God has called you to a life of serving Him overseas? Do you have a strong desire to live outside of America? Would you like to spend your short days living in light of eternity? If any of these admirable thoughts have crossed your mind, I’d like to share a few more with you.
If missions excites you, then you should rejoice! That should be the heart of everyone who has been redeemed. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 is a command to ALL believers to go and make disciples. So if you’re ready and willing to follow this command no matter the cost, this means that you are an obedient Christian. Everyone should be passionate about missions. Wait, you wonder, aren’t some senders and some goers? Regarding physically going overseas, yes. Missions demands a full effort of all believers, senders and goers. And while not everyone should leave America, everyone should be actively making disciples—no exceptions. Therefore, everyone is called to missions.
As a young woman, if I have a desire to make disciples outside of America, does that mean I’m called specifically to overseas missions?
Maybe, but not always. A desire should not be misunderstood as a calling. It may simply be a feeling. This feeling may be from God, or it may be an impulse of your own heart. What is clear is what is revealed in God’s Word. Before looking at your specific calling, let’s look at God’s calling for women in general. According to God’s Word, God’s highest calling for most women is being a wife and mom (Genesis 2:18; Titus 2:4). As a wife, I am designed to help my husband be the best man he can be as he lives out his calling to make disciples. So this means that if I am married, I can be confident that I am following God’s calling when I support my husband in his calling. If you are called to singleness, you are still created to be a helper in a general sense to the body of Christ, but you are also able to maximize your giftedness in a unique, devoted way (1 Cor. 7:32-35). So if you are single, I would encourage you to find a ministry that you love with leaders that you can work under and help. Then devote yourself to helping them be the best they can be as they further the kingdom!
What if my husband has a different calling than overseas missions?
Or what if he wants to do overseas missions when we are dating, and after we get married, decides to stay in America? Did I marry the wrong person? Is he in sin? If you choose to get married, you are choosing to help a man fulfill his God-given calling, wherever that may be. Your calling of helper trumps your own ministry calling or desires. Your subjective calling (what you feel led to do) will never override God’s objective calling (the clear leading in His Word). One question every woman must ask herself is, Am I willing to commit to help a man, even if his calling doesn’t match my own desires? Are you willing to give up your own desires of overseas missions? If not, it would be better to stay single instead of pressuring a man to follow your desires. When you are willing to give them up, you will be pleasantly surprised to see where God will take you. Here’s a thought to consider: sometimes we think we are “surrendering all” when we are actually creating a tightly constructed box made of how we want to serve him. We mistake serving God for serving our own desires. As a follower of Christ, I must be willing to serve Him in any capacity He wants, even if it means staying in America.
So what if the guy I’m dating doesn’t share my desire for missions?
If the guy you are dating doesn’t share your specific desire for missions, then you need to evaluate whether you are willing to give up your desire to serve his. But if the guy you are dating does not share a desire for reaching the lost in general, then beware! This isn’t an issue of calling; this is a spiritual maturity issue. He needs to grow in his passion of the Great Commission before you continue your relationship. But that doesn’t mean he needs to go overseas in order to obey the Great Commission. God may intend for him to be better utilized as a sender. A missionary is no more important or more spiritual than a businessman…. it is how we choose to maximize our opportunities for the kingdom that matters. Of course you wouldn’t marry someone based on his career choice (which is subject to change), but would choose your husband based on the condition of his relationship with the Lord.
So how do I know if I’m called to overseas missions?
If you are married, and if overseas missions is your husband’s desire, then it is automatically your calling, too. You are called to missions because you are called to your husband.
If you are single and walking obediently to God’s Word, then evaluate the following:
- Am I already actively making disciples where I am?
- Are my mentors affirming my desire to go?
- Is there a specific ministry where my giftedness can be utilized or am I simply fascinated with a certain geographical location or people group? (God doesn’t limit His calling to a certain location, meaning that you shouldn’t feel guilty if you didn’t end up where you thought He told you to go—God’s revelation is limited to Scripture)
- Am I content with my circumstances now? (If you think that you couldn’t be happy living out the rest of your days in America or want to escape the bombardment of American temptations and distractions, then you need to learn the secret of contentment in Christ (Philippians 4:13), no matter where you live. Discontentment should not be confused with a calling.)
- Are my motives for overseas missions truly to build or strengthen God’s church? Many end up on the mission field excited about the prospect of doing something exhilarating or that will make them feel good about themselves. Even unbelieving philanthropists feel called to fulfill their charitable efforts. Watch out for selfish motives even in missions. All missions should either be working toward establishing God’s church or edifying it. That is God’s design in missions.
- What is my giftedness? Which skills would I like to utilize overseas? Have I received maximum training in my field? Or is my skill set better equipped for American service?
- Have I evaluated the organization I will be serving? Is the ministry I am looking at gospel-centered or merely humanitarian aid? We need both. But humanitarian aid without solid gospel isn’t missions. Remember, in light of eternity, helping physical needs alone misses God’s mission. Humanitarian aid connected with gospel discipleship is God’s mission.
So, my young friends who are interested in missions, I hope that you have gained a clearer understanding of missions. I hope that you have been able to decipher the difference between God’s calling and noble desires. Your “calling” might just be an indicator that you are saved. Or it may be God leading you overseas. But remember: No matter where you live, you are called to personally carry out the Great Commission.
– Danielle Hurley