Discern God’s Will: 14 More Questions

Reading Time: 4 minutes

discern God's will

Grab the first set of questions here

to help you discern God’s Will.

Picture with me for a moment some soggy, Middle Eastern men on an ancient boat in the middle of the night. Their arms are slick with seaspray, jellied from bailing water and rowing against the wind.

They’ll argue about who saw it first, but unmistakably, something was silhouetted on the crests and peaks of the waves. And it sure looked a whole lot like a person.

But because people can’t really float upright on water–as fishermen, they’re confident of this–their minds vault to the supernatural: A ghost. read more

Missionary Marriage: Ideas to Keep It Together

Reading Time: 4 minutes

missionary marriage

Years ago, my husband and I talked about how to help missionary friends on the field in struggles they were working through in a marriage. The couple was fairly new on the field.

It was tough, we acknowledged: A missionary marriage was like a pressure cooker, intensifying whatever flavors were first lobbed in the pot. If basil, you tasted its nuance in the entire dish. If a sweaty gym sock? Well.

Make no mistake: Your marital issues and strengths will arrive with you on the field with more certainty than your luggage. But it’s critical you don’t let living overseas just happen to your marriage.

Because the natural course of marriage isn’t toward being one flesh, toward unity. It’s toward isolation, disconnection. But “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

What relationships will you feed while overseas?

You may not mind giving from your marriage to outside ministry. It’s quite possible you’re eager to share! Yet that flexibility and generosity flow best when marriage and ministry work as allies—not  competitors.

For FamilyLife.com, I recently wrote the article, “Ministry Marriage: Perks to Love, Dangers to Fight.” That piece is far more comprehensive. But before I direct you there, let’s have some specific straight talk on your soon-to-be missionary marriage.

Actively stay alert for signs of isolation.

I currently live in Colorado, a state notorious for deal-breaking foundation cracks in a home–cracks costing thousands of dollars to fix while you move out. So I keep an eye on cracks in plaster, in drywall, that could indicate a bigger problem–which I’d rather solve as early as possible.

The priority of your missionary marriage remains critical overseas. It speaks the Gospel to your family, not just an unreached people group or the world “out there”. And experiencing God’s love regularly also means you regularly experience that you are loved; that you are more than what you do for God.

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It’s the same strategy for your marriage. Keep an eye out for warning signs:

  • constant bickering
  • a feeling of resentment
  • temptation toward an emotional or physical affair
  • a loss of respect
  • porn use, or other addictions
  • apathy toward your spouse
  • inability to recover from trauma, issues with kids, or other obstacles
  • isolation; finding yourself “holding back” from your spouse
  • mental health issues, like depression or anxiety (common struggles overseas)
  • lack of regular, fulfilling sex

See more on these warning signs here. 

Your ministry marriage can flounder—or flourish, should you invest in displaying the gospel intently there.

Understand your tendencies in navigating stress and trauma.

When I was about to deliver my first child, the instructor asked us where in our bodies we carry our stress. (I carry mine in my jaw, my shoulders.) This is a similar exercise as you prepare for stress. Are you prone toward depression? Workaholism? People-pleasing? Being gruff with your spouse?

Living cross-culturally, you’re more often in the stressed version of yourself (see this post for more ideas of what the stressed version of yourself might look like, including these on the stressed version of your marriage and the stressed version of your parenting).

Can you already anticipate the stressed version of your missionary marriage, and be ready with healthy coping mechanisms, truths to tell yourself, and ways to bridge the gap?

Many sending agencies now require mental health evaluations before you head overseas for these very reasons, and several more.

For those of you going to developed countries, the closer you are to the poor, the more you experience their hardship and heartache. Your probability of trauma skyrockets.

Make no mistake: God will triumph through your darkest days overseas. But starting from a place of health, with a number of robust coping mechanisms in place, means you stay longer and stronger overseas, without the wave of trauma capitulating you as easily.

Don’t hesitate to get counseling before you go, even JUST for evaluative reasons.

Family friends headed overseas racked up well over twenty medical appointments before they left: immunizations. Examinations. Checking out weird little problems they didn’t want to rear their ugly heads in a nation with less developed medical care.

We need the same mindset with our hearts, minds, and marital relationships before heading into the pressure cooker of a missionary marriage.

What could use a tune-up? And if you don’t know…will you make the effort to find out?

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Many counselors can continue long-distance video counseling, and many sending organizations are happy to provide the counseling you need overseas.

Make sure you talk about the mutuality of your “call”.

Don’t miss our post, “Help! I Don’t Feel as ‘Called’ as My Spouse.” 

All right, I’m ready now–if you’ve managed to hang in there all this time, jump on over to Ministry Marriage: Perks to Love, Dangers to Fight.”


Sure, your marriage reciprocates in every area of service you put your hands to. But even if you were only experiencing Jesus more in your own marriage? That alone honors and delights Him.

Do the hard work to deeply nourish the relationships that matter most–and not just “out there”.


Janel Breitenstein is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and senior editor for Go. Serve. Love. After five and a half years in East Africa, her family of six has returned to Colorado, where they continue to work on behalf of the poor with Engineering Ministries International.

Her book, Permanent Markers: Spiritual Life Skills to Write on Your Kids’ Hearts (Harvest House) releases October 2021. You can find her—“The Awkward Mom”—having uncomfortable, important conversations at JanelBreitenstein.com, and on Instagram @janelbreit. 

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Making a difference = a good reason to go overseas?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

making a difference

When I first met the head-turning, nearly-too-good-to-be-true man who would be my husband, there was only one possibly fatal flaw.

He didn’t see himself going overseas.

At that point, I had participated in short-term missions in ten countries, give or take. I’d maxed out my university’s Spanish classes and minored in cross-cultural services. My college activities pointed to my love of cultures and helping the powerless.

Geez, Lord. Couldn’t you make this easier?

Serious questions crossed my mind about whether in marrying the man I respected most on Planet Earth, that I would also be…a sellout.

When “Living Life for God” = Disappointment

Spoiler: I married him. Nearly every day of our married life, I’ve thanked God for this man. (Without him, I may have been World’s Most Insecure Missionary).

But a decade later, “living my life for God” had slid from those mental images of handing rice to refugees, dust in my skirt. Instead, I was drowning in a sea of apple juice with some Goldfish floating on top. The commercial for my life would have looked less Peace Corps, more Bounty paper towels.

I felt confused. Angry. Exhausted.

And the sellout question loomed large, as if a rocking rubber stamp were about to declare me “Life Opportunities Missed.”

A Small Life?

Perhaps if you’ve followed my posts, you know the spoiler: My husband and I ended up spending half a decade in Africa. I felt a technicolor version of alive. (We’re still with the same org.)

But this was not before a tough couple of years when God and I wrestled with whether I’d chosen the best path. When God was growing contentment in me for what I called a “small life”. (Um, despite fierce love and happy sacrifice for my kids and husband. Which I wouldn’t have given up in a bajillion years. Turns out the Gospel matters to them, too).

My heart caught around Kathleen Kelly’s musings in You’ve Got Mail:

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but valuable. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?

When Making a Difference Gets Out of Order

God has grown me exponentially in understanding the peculiar heroism the Church places on missionaries. He’s taught me no role in the Church is unimportant.

God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?….

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:18, 19, 21)

I also had to be taught that part of my own desire to life a “big life for God” was the emphasis on my own life being valuable. I’ve been guilty of, in a sense, using God for my own fulfillment more than I love him for himself.

making a difference

With more than For

I’ve thought more about this recently for two reasons.

First, I returned from Africa. My sense of co-laboring fell to a much quieter, occasionally indiscernable hum. I lost most of my sexy job titles (Missionary to Africa! Teacher of Refugees!) all over again. (See “Do our Churches Prefer Certain Occupations? Does God?“)

At times, I grew angry that God hadn’t created a more tenable way for us to stay, for making a difference. My identity felt horribly jumbled as I struggled for worth apart from the field.

(This was recognizable, at times, as one who’d lost not just something precious, but perhaps lost an idol, too.)

I’ve also considered this in light of what I’ve read in Skye Jethani’s With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God. 

Jethani explores five primary postures in which we relate to God: Life under, over, from, for, and finally with God. He cites God’s vision in both Genesis and Revelation (and throughout the Bible) to reign with humankind: to be loved as he is, rather than us seeking to manipulate or use him.

“In other words,” Jethani writes, “God would cease to be how we acquire our treasure, and he would become our treasure.”

Is “Impact” the Point?

I won’t explore all the postures here. But Jethani reminded me that many of us have been schooled in Life For God more than With God. Jethani quotes Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales, following Vischer’s loss of his company.

“God would never call us from greater impact to lesser impact!” [I thought.]

The more I dove into Scripture, the more I realized I had been deluded. I had grown up drinking a dangerous cocktail–a mix of the gospel, the Protestant work ethic, and the American dream…The Savior I was following seemed, in hindsight, equal parts Jesus, Ben Franklin, and Henry Ford. My eternal value was rooted in what I could accomplish.

Unfortunately, taken to its fullness, this missionalism, this disordered priority for making a difference, brings us to a place the end justifies any means. Including the loss of our own vital connection to God. Our families. Our marriages.

Jethani observes,

A great deal of effort is expended in faith communities trying to transform people from younger sons [in the story of the prodigal son] into older sons. But this is a fool’s errand, because what mattered most to the father was neither the younger son’s disobedience nor the older son’s obedience, but having his sons with him.


In fact, Jesus foretells of some making a difference, achieving great things in God’s name.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me… (Matthew 7:22-23, emphasis added)

The Mission is not the End

If we land on the mission field feeling that in some sense we’ve arrived (or perhaps will, after Making a Difference), we will–like the biblical Jacob, always wake up with Leah.

Because the mission itself, or our ability to accomplish it, was never intended to form our sense of worth and fulfillment.

Don’t go overseas with “impact” as your greatest goal. Because missions is not, cannot be, the Great End.

God is.

(And by the way, Honey. I would marry you all. Over. Again.)

Like this post? You might like

Janel Breitenstein is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and senior editor for Go. Serve. Love. After five and a half years in East Africa, her family of six has returned to Colorado, where they continue to work on behalf of the poor with Engineering Ministries International.

Her book, Permanent Markers: Spiritual Life Skills for Work-in-Progress Families (Harvest House) releases in October 2021. You can find her—“The Awkward Mom”—having uncomfortable, important conversations at JanelBreitenstein.com, and on Instagram @janelbreit.





Becoming a Missionary: Ultimate Preparation Checklist!

Reading Time: 6 minutes

becoming a missionary

Editor’s note: Go. Serve. Love knows the decision and process for becoming a missionary can very quickly become complicated–even overwhelming. It’s why we’re thrilled to partner with the brand-new Mission App, a 15-20 minute application sent for you to mission agencies who match your chosen criteria!

We’re excited to welcome the Mission App today as they hand you their ultimate preparation checklist for becoming a missionary. Drumroll, please.

One more thing: becoming a missionary is a continual process of being shaped. These are essential areas in which to continue growing even, and especially, once on the field.

Use these to increase self-awareness, not as a signal you’ve arrived.

Read: If you’re checking off these boxes and considering them “done!”–you’re missing the idea. Each of these ideas is a touchstone to highlight areas of strength, weakness–and continued necessary growth either way.

Becoming a Missionary: Questions to consider as you prepare!

We understand that becoming a missionary may seem to be a huge, scary unknown.  What if there’s something you haven’t considered… and it’s important?

This Ultimate Checklist is meant to help you think through the questions that matter in becoming a missionary.

Don’t worry – these things will never be checked off as ‘completely accomplished’ for anyone. We just hope you will be encouraged as you see how far God has already brought you.

You might be further along toward becoming a missionary than you think!

And maybe we’ll remind you of something you wish you’d remembered.

Abiding with Jesus – Am I …

  • growing since I first met Jesus? Jot down ways God continues to change you.
  • feeding myself through study of God’s Word? Write highlights of what God has been impressing upon you in the past month from your time in his Word.
  • developing my prayer life? – Jot down how you’ve seen God interact with your prayers this week.

Character / Personal Growth – Am I…

  • demonstrating fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22)? List a few ways you’ve seen this fruit in you this week.
  • quick to repent? List one thing you’ve repented of this week.
  • quick to forgive? Name one thing God’s given you grace to forgive this week.
  • full of integrity? Are your external and internal lives congruent?
  • living in humility? Name recent times you’ve God’s strength through your weakness.
  • learning how to handle conflict well? List one way you hope to grow in your handling of conflict.
  • learning how to handle failure? Name a failure Jesus has brought you through this month.

[su_button url=”https://www.goservelove.net/emotionally-healthy-missions-could-it-save-your-ministry/” target=”blank” style=”3d” background=”#00779b” center=”yes”]Grab critical indicators of EMOTIONALLY-HEALTHY MISSIONS[/su_button]

Family – Do I…

  • have a healthy marriage (if applicable)? Ask your spouse, your kids, your godly close friends what you do well and what you need to learn.
  • need to consider my kids’ readiness to go? Talk with them about the loss of current friends, the making of new ones, & the changing of circumstances (no Wi-Fi maybe?).
  • need to consider responsibilities like adult kids or aging parents? Jot down a prayer asking God for wisdom if this applies to you.
  • understand schooling options for my kids? Talk through if you and your kids are ready for the possibility of boarding school or homeschooling.

Relationship with others – What…

  • characterizes your relationships with those you work with or live near?  Write down positive and negative ways you’ve been described, and how you handle conflict.
  • is it about your life that draws people to you/renders others cold toward you? Write down what comes to mind.
  • shows that you consistently count others as more significant than self? Becoming a missionary means a dedicated life of others-focus–the life of a Christ-follower. Give examples of when you listened well more than you talked of yourself in the last few days.

Church Participation – Am I…

  • involved with a local church? Write down ways you have served in your church in the past and currently.
  • sent by my church? Write down how your church has supported you and confirmed the leading God has given you to share Jesus in another culture.  List those who are praying for you or who are willing to support you financially.

Biblical Formation – Do I…

  • understand core biblical doctrine?  Describe how God is healing the broken relationships in this world (between people and God and between people and each other) using specific Scriptures. What classes or books have you explored to increase your knowledge of solid doctrine? Write down your understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus from Scripture.
  • know how to articulate my faith?  Write down your core beliefs and why you believe them.
  • need to take formal Bible classes? Check with your sending church or organization to see if these are required.

Professional Training – Am I…

God’s Leading –  Can I…

  • put in words how God led me to consider becoming a missionary? Write down how God has led you so far in this journey toward sharing the Good News in another culture.
  • name a specific mission agency I feel connected with? Write a list of agencies that you are considering working with if you know of any.

[su_button url=”https://www.goservelove.net/following-him/” target=”blank” style=”3d” background=”#00779b” center=”yes”]Find all of our posts about DISCERNING GOD’S CALLING OVERSEAS[/su_button]

becoming a missionary

Evangelism & Discipleship Training – Do I…

  • have a heart for reaching out beyond my own life? Becoming a missionary isn’t a magic wand to change your outreach habits! How have you demonstrated reaching out in the last month? (Grab ideas to start right where you’re at.)
  • know how to share the Good News about Jesus? Write down a brief summary of this Good News.
  • have the tools you need, understanding how they might interact with the complex culture to which you hope to go? Jot down questions you may want to pursue answers for.
  • continue to train in discipleship making? Write down where you are learning now or where you could learn.
  • train others already in following Jesus? Write down ways you are currently training others in following Jesus.

Church Planting Training – Have I…

  • thought about planting a church? Write down your thoughts as you pray about this.
  • considered being trained to plant a church? Write down where you might get training.

Cross Cultural Preparation – Do I…

  • know how to adjust to new cultures? Write down how you handle change or being different. (Don’t miss this series on beginning to navigate cultural differences and “icebergs”.)
  • understand the religion in my potential new host country? Do a little research online to start or even better talk to someone.
  • understand the culture in my potential new host country? Do some research and talk to someone who has lived there for more than a year.
  • plan to learn the language? Research what language is most spoken in your potential host culture.  Make a plan of how you will learn; language schools are usually available, or perhaps you’ll employ a tutor.  You may want to find some flash cards (online works, too, or an app like Word Climber) and build your vocabulary in your free time.

becoming a missionary

Becoming a Missionary: Next Steps

If you asked yourself these questions and realized you’re ready to take the next step toward becoming a missionary, here are a few things you may want to do.

Mission Agency Selection

  • Research agencies: Go to themissionapp.com to search easily.
  • Look for options: Talk to people you know about what is available.
  • Find an agency that matches your purpose: Think through how God is leading you in terms of ministry, people group, and location.

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Application / Orientation / Training

  • Send in The Mission App’s preliminary application. You can choose to fill out our single application, which we route to multiple agencies that fit your purpose.
  • Fill out full-time application or interview with your choice of agencies. Call them if they don’t call you.
  • Attend mission agency orientation. Your agency provides details of where and when.
  • Attend any extra training required. Your agency will send details of what is required.

Prayer Partners

  • Raise up prayer partners (at least 100). Start with your small group, your church, your family, your friends.
  • Start communicating to prayer partners. You can use a group email, mass email service (like MailChimp), or a Facebook page or Instagram account.  Be consistent in reporting requests and answers.  (Remember to consider security if you are moving to a “creative access country”. Seek out your agency’s wisdom and safety guidelines.)


  • Determine the model of how you will be supported. Your mission agency will likely have this in place.
  • Engage in fundraising training. You don’t have to fly blind–or damage relationships! Learn from organizations who train others in fundraising. (Find out more at Go. Serve. Love’s page on Funding God’s Adventure.)
  • Start fundraising. Let people know what it is exactly that you will be doing and what your financial needs are.

See?  Not so bad.  Now that the adventure of missions is not so unknown, you’ve got a clearer picture of where you stand and what to do next.  Grab ahold of God’s hand and go!

Like this post? Don’t miss gO. sERVE. lOVE’S FREE PRINTABLE, FLEXIBLE TIMELINE FOR YOUR JOURNEY OVERSEAs–and our free self-assessment below!



5 Character Potholes to Avoid Overseas

Reading Time: 4 minutes

character overseas

Wondering what kind of character essentials should be “packed”, so to speak, before heading overseas? Well–let’s look at what you’ll need to leave behind.

Character Potholes that can keep you on the shoulder


Hopefully this one’s a bit of a gimme if you’ve already traveled overseas. Friends of mine used to joke about “Africa Wins Again” days–when a rat eats the special food you brought from home. The electricity’s been out for three days. And the government accidentally shuts off your cell phone.

It’s helpful for me to think of going overseas like skiing moguls: Keep your knees loose, not locked. If you like specific ways of doing things, missionary life might just eat your lunch–and even faster than everyone else’s. (Check out My Story: Culture Shock, Mayonnaise, and the Last Straw).

Cross-cultural relationships require character with a formidable degree of flexibility, an openness to acquiring other pieces of your God-puzzle.

[su_button url=”https://www.goservelove.net/different-cross-cultures/” target=”blank” style=”3d” background=”#00779b” center=”yes”]Don’t miss “Just Different? Right, Wrong, and Flexibility in Crossing Cultures”[/su_button]

Domineering-ness/suppressed superiority.

(We made up domineering-ness. It just fits.)

To go overseas takes some take-charge character: You’re raising support, navigating a new city, muscling through foods you’d rather leave looking at you on the plate.

More important, you’re saying, “Here am I! Send me!” Picture a missional Rosie the Riveter: We can do it!

If you don’t have that can-do character, you’ll tank.

But my 10-year-old bragged the other day about “making someone a Christian.” I stuck my head into his Bible study with friends: “Um, Son. Only God does that.”

You may have heard the old song, “Rescue the perishing; care for the dying.” We are only the rescuers only because we are the rescued. If we come in with a Savior complex, we’ve got serious issues.

Essentially, our job as missionaries is still to work ourselves out of a job: for nationals to take the helm and lead their people well. Because redeemed Asians will naturally know best how to reach Asians; because redeemed Africans should guide the African church.

Rachel Pieh Jones warns unflinchingly about our tendency as humanitarians to develop dependency–our need to be needed.

Friends, our goal is not to remain in charge.

It’s one of the reasons to learn a people’s language, even if they speak English. You can take on the posture of a learner, rather than lofty teacher–both in your eyes, and their own. Every person on the social ladder now has something to teach you. And you have a way to laugh at yourself.

To be an effective global worker is to be an effective learner and listener. Because one of the most important characteristics for any missionary is humility. I have often found it in the best missionaries.

We must spend time studying, learning, and loving long before we spend time sermonizing.

(Don’t miss When the Rich from the West Don’t Know They’re Acting Like It.)


Living overseas is filled with lots of weird moments. You’ll forget that as a woman you shouldn’t touch men in the Middle East, or that in East Africa you don’t step over someone’s outstretched legs.

Or vice versa: Someone will say something that sounds an awful lot like an insult (“You are fat, madam!”). Maybe they’ll scorn you because of your skin color. Or make catcalls that make you feel like a jogging piece of meat.

Then there are the moments with tired, stressed expat staff.

Sometimes you will want to push them out of a window (into the bushes only, of course). You will sometimes feel you are constantly living in the stressed version of yourself–the one where your frontal lobe is so exhausted that your emotional control is paper-thin.

We need rhino-thick skin with the same petal-soft hearts inside. Build resilience of character for the sake of the kingdom. Develop the brand of love that covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8); that finds glory in overlooking an offense (Proverbs 19:11).


Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely.”

The temptation to revel in martyrdom seems magnetic in a world where sacrifice and small griefs are around every corner. (Sometimes they’re in the form of stubbing your toe on yet another uneven “sidewalk” or set of stairs, or a laundry trip that sucks up an entire day.)

Character-wise, you’ll be in the interesting place of trying to be completely honest about what’s going on inside of you, without complaining about it. (Careful: Expat gatherings can double as whine-and-cheese parties.)

So yes, pay attention to the “dashboard lights” of your emotions. Don’t opt for dishonesty in your own heart. Mourn what is wrong about this world and what you’ve lost. Part of true character is “truth in the inward being”, in which God delights (Psalm 51:6).

But grieve alongside of God, welcoming him into your frustration rather than turning to bitter blame. Cry with open-handedness toward God–“Not my will, but Yours”–rather than entitlement. (Check out the difference here.)

Fear of conflict.

I kind of hate conflict. With the exception of my anger issues with my kiddos, conflict tends to sideline me in a head-between-my-knees, breathe-into-a-paper-bag kind of way. It’s super-attractive and mature.

But James reminds me, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1).

Conflict flays open the idols I’m so often attempting to conceal. So rather than run away, arms pinwheeling, I can’t waste my conflict. My character needs it.

It is, as Relational Wisdom 360 will tell you, a chance to

  • glorify God
  • grow to be like Christ
  • bear fruit
  • serve others

Conflict brings too many avid, gifted global workers off the field. Don’t waste that totally awkward conflict. Let God form it into a stronger relationship, a stronger you, and a stronger ministry.

[su_button url=”https://www.goservelove.net/character/” target=”blank” style=”3d” background=”#00779b” center=”yes”]Read “WHAT KIND OF CHARACTER DO I NEED TO BE EFFECTIVE OVERSEAS?”[/su_button]

Posts we love:

The Cultural Iceberg: What You Need to Know about Cross-cultural Communication

What Lies Beneath: Recognizing Cultural “Icebergs”

The Cultural Iceberg and Identity: Collectivist vs. Individualistic Societies


Marketplace Missions Myth #3: Reaching the Unreached=Alone and Scary (FREE assessment!)

Reading Time: 3 minutes


By Mark Canada, CEO of Marketplace & Development Enterprises

During the month of September, Go. Serve. Love is tickled pink to share stories and thoughts from MDE, an organization providing business, vocational, missional, and personal services to fellow believers who want to make money and make disciples in unreached communities.

In light of the 4.13 billion unreached–and the need for the solution of an equal size-MDE is looking for Christians who truly want to be in the workplace, either as employees or entrepreneurs, and who truly want to be intentional about developing authentic relationships.

They’re looking for a few good men (and women) to take both the presence and the message of Jesus to co-workers and neighbors.

Catch the first myths Here:
“‘Missions’ is for missionaries.”
“Business as Mission (BAM) Takes Away from Ministry.”

Today’s myth traipses after a typical train of thought. If a people group is unreached, then

  • There’s probably a good reason.
  • They’re probably hostile. (Let me address this one briefly. Would you believe Muslims displaced to Europe as refugees are coming to Jesus in droves…and reviving European churches in the process? Check out this podcast from Christianity Today.)
  • They’re probably remote. (See above. And did you know that the largest unreached people group in the world is the Japanese, followed by the Xiang people of the Han Chinese?)
  • I basically need to be a Christian superhero. And preferably one without a family. Because “Hey, want to go to a remote Muslim nation with me?” can be a bit of a first-date killer.

While this myth isn’t as loud as it used to be, echoes are there.

We in the West can’t quite get rid of images of jungles and pith helmets and dirt floor huts when we think of “real” missions.

But over half of the world’s population lives in cities now. And the percentage is rising.

That means the majority of people who haven’t heard of Jesus or know much about him live in urban areas.

Hearing the implications? We need more believers sharing the gospel in cities.

Eye on the Flow

While no hard data is available, cultural changes tend to flow from urban areas to rural areas, not the reverse.

So, if you want to change the culture of a region, you need to impact cities in that region. We need to go to the cities, not just the hinterlands.

cultural change urban

In Good Company

We also need to go with, or go join, believers who are also committed to being intentional disciple-makers.

Teaming is a good thing. Doing missions in a community, with a community–as a greater reflection of Christ’s Body and its critical support–is a great strategy.

Remember: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

There need is urgent for Christians to go live and work–in normal jobs–in cities all over the world. And to do so in community with other Christians doing the same.

Could you be a good fit?

We’ve created a FREE self-assessment to help you consider whether marketplace missions (also known as BAM: Business as Mission) could be a good fit for you–and what you could do next.

Want to check it out?

Catch the first myths Here:
“‘Missions’ is for missionaries.”
“Business as Mission (BAM) Takes Away from Ministry.”

Marketplace Missions Myth #2: BAM takes away from “ministry” (FREE assessment!)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

marketplace missions BAM myth ministry

By Mark Canada, CEO of Marketplace & Development Enterprises

During the month of September, Go. Serve. Love is tickled pink to share stories and thoughts from MDE, an organization providing business, vocational, missional, and personal services to fellow believers who want to make money and make disciples in unreached communities.

In light of the 4.13 billion unreached–and the need for the solution of an equal size-MDE is looking for Christians who truly want to be in the workplace, either as employees or entrepreneurs, and who truly want to be intentional about developing authentic relationships.

They’re looking for a few good men (and women) to take both the presence and the message of Jesus to co-workers and neighbors.

Missed the first myth,
“Missions” is for missionaries?
Grab it here!

I get it–because I get this one all the time: If I go overseas and I’m hammering away at my job, ministry will be the one robbed.

The critical issue, of course, is defining the term “ministry.”

If you mean spending all your “working hours” sharing the gospel or running a church, then yes. Running a Business as Mission (BAM) venture or working a day job for pay cuts into that.

But if you mean spending time developing relationships that allow you to share the gospel? Relationships that demonstrate how God would have us to live our lives as regular peeps?

Then I strenuously disagree.

marketplace missions BAM myth ministry

Ingredients for Sharing Jesus

There are a lot of ways to share Jesus, to display him. But most are more effective when done in the context of an authentic, trusting relationship.

People generally feel more comfortable giving and receiving deep, challenging truth in a solid relationship.

Many pastors I know constantly wrestle the difficulty of sharing the gospel with people who keep them at arm’s length upon learning the pastor is a “professional person of God.” Overcoming that series of traffic cones is a long, slow process.

Traditional missionaries almost always face the same barrier in the least reached communities.

If you are an American with no visible means of support (no job or successful business), there are some good possibilities about your seemingly innocuous presence. You’re probably a government agent, or a missionary there to convert them to your heretical religion.

Unreached people aren’t stupid. They catch on pretty quickly. If you’re not truly working in the marketplace, chances are decent you’re not up to anything good.

And you can’t be trusted.

Someone with a job or viable, successful business doesn’t face this barrier. In fact, that person will usually have multiple opportunities to connect with co-workers, employees, suppliers, customers and neighbors in very natural ways.

M’s story

M was working with a Muslim community in Asia to help abandoned, “graduated” orphans integrate into society.

Those efforts were effective. So neighbors were curious, but supportive of her endeavors to help the community. They asked her why she worked so hard. She was able to tell them of the compelling love of Jesus.

I’m not bashing full-time traditional church planting by any means. But marketplace missions is effective.

Both M and Don from last week’s post would tell you their opportunities to do “ministry” did not diminish, but rather skyrocketed when they switched over to working in the marketplace of their adopted communities.

We’ve created a FREE self-assessment to help you consider whether marketplace missions (also known as BAM: Business as Mission) could be a good fit for you–and what you could do next.

Want to check it out?

[su_button url=”https://www.goservelove.net/marketplace-missions-myth-1/” target=”blank” style=”3d” background=”#00779b” center=”yes”]GRAB THE FIRST MYTH HERE: “MISSIONS IS FOR MISSIONARIES”[/su_button]

Marketplace Myth #1: “Missions” is for missionaries (FREE assessment!)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

marketplace missionsDuring the month of September, Go. Serve. Love is tickled pink to share stories and thoughts from MDE, an organization providing business, vocational, missional, and personal services to fellow believers who want to make money and make disciples in unreached communities.

In light of the 4.13 billion unreached–and the need for the solution of an equal size–MDE is looking for Christians who truly want to be in the workplace, either as employees or entrepreneurs, and who truly want to be intentional about developing authentic relationships.

They’re looking for a few good men (and women) to take both the presence and the message of Jesus to co-workers and neighbors.

Is Business is a back door to missions?

What if we told you it’s a front door?

If you want to share Christ with people overseas or anywhere, where do you start?

You’re hoping to meet people by inviting them for dinner, or getting to know their kids, or hoping your dog licks them in a friendly way on your walk around the neighborhood.

Even as a pastor, you have to create a connection…but then you’ve got the classic pastor problem of a job label. You wonder if people are buttoning up around you (“Oh, shoot! I just swore!”). Or wondering if you’ve got an agenda in creating a relationship with them.

Marketplace missions provides you an automatic connecting point.

CEO of MDE Mark Canada recalls from his tenure in Kazakhstan, “If you don’t have a job and you’re not with a school, we’re skeptical of you. Maybe you work for the government. Maybe you’re a spy.”

But if you’re bringing jobs and a service needed by your community?

People’s arms aren’t up blocking you. They’re welcoming you.

Welcome to the front door: Don’s Story

Don moved to Eastern Europe for “missionary”/”church planting” work with the Roma community. But he wasn’t anticipating the 7 or 8 years of not connecting and watching people struggling to feed their families.

So Don decided to go through the “back door”: marketplace missions. He worked with MDE to create a small manufacturing company to provide jobs, to demonstrate how to use biblical principles in the workplace, and to create authentic, natural relationships with Roma.

Through God’s kindness, Don did all that and more. The Roma community leaders welcomed and applauded him for truly helping “their people.” (They weren’t overly excited about his religion, but respected him for the value he was bringing to them.)

His workers earned a more than decent wage, were enrolled in the country’s health and pension system, and learned job skills they could take to other employers.

In addition to seeing God provide materially, they experienced the love and head the message of Jesus through Don. The back door was the only way into this particular house.

Don’t I need to be called to missions?

This myth is pervasive. In fact–despite the 4.3 billion unreached–this myth stops countless believers in everyday jobs from considering a life of intentional disciple-making in the least reached communities of the world.

People often have a fuzzy idea of what “missions” means.

What they know? Missions (insert scary music) is is completed in remote places by “missionaries”. “Missionaries” are full-time pastor types who spend all day evangelizing and doing very church-type things, like Bible study.

So this myth follows naturally that if believers haven’t heard or felt God call them to be missionaries, they should not go to the unreached.

But MDE, for example, believes every believer is called, commanded even, to make disciples, whether they’re in Toledo or Tokyo.

We believe Jesus still weeps when he looks out over lost communities. He desires for them to come to know and follow him.

marketplace missions

We need more disciples going to those communities.

So let’s back away from defining “missions” or “missionary” for a bit. Let’s simply ask, Where would God have you make the disciples he has commanded you to make?

There is a desperate need for Christians to go make disciples in thousands of places around the world. So here’s our second ask. (Spoiler alert: It’s a biggie.)

Would you consider going there?

You have to live and work somewhere. Why not in a city where the need for a Christian to do so is overwhelming?

Bonus: You might not need to raise financial support. And you might have a natural route to a visa.

Could you work for Google from Indonesia? Open a coffee shop in Kyrgistan? Teach scuba diving in southern Spain (that one, we’ve already got one person doing). Model and sing in Japan? (That one, too.)

You don’t need to be a missionary.

You simply need to be missional. To offer yourself as an act of worship to our Lord – living your life fully and completely for him.

You should be doing this already.

What if you tried do it somewhere else?

We’ve created a FREE self-assessment to help you consider whether marketplace missions (also known as BAM: Business as Mission) could be a good fit for you–and what you could do next.

Want to check it out?

[su_button url=”https://www.goservelove.net/marketplace-missions-myth-ministry-2/” target=”blank” style=”3d” background=”#00779b” center=”yes”]GRAB PART II OF THIS SERIES HERE! [/su_button]

#BESTOFTHEBESTFRIDAYS: FREE Mental Health Assessment; 50+ BAM jobs

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Free Mental Health Assessment (this month only!) before you go overseas

Here at Go. Serve. Love, we offer you four free self-assessements–and have encouraged you openly to see a counselor before you head overseas.

The stress as you head overseas is real–and a number of major sending organizations have decided to make a mental health assessment part of their application process. Your mental wellness and resilience have significant implications on the effectiveness of your ministry–and your longevity overseas.bestofthebestfriday mental health

So we’re pretty stinkin’ happy that Godspeed Resources for THIS MONTH ONLY, is offering free initial mental health assessments to global workers who complete an intake form during the month of May. We’re already halfway through the month…so grab an appointment right. Now.

Source: Brigada

50+ Business-as-Mission Job opportunities available right now

We kid you not. Check out the list here. Don’t lose sight of the mind-blowing possibilities to get into unreached countries by taking an “ordinary” job!

Source: BAM Review

The Information Leading to A Thai Revival: Great Info if You’re Asia-Bound

It’s possible you missed the recent Christianity Today cover article about a revival sweeping Thailand. The reason? Thanks to the data of all-grown-up missionary kid Dwight Martin, Thai pastors realized just how many of their neighbors had no Christians living among them. CT reports,

So after Martin’s report, [the pastors] did something the researcher had never seen before: Each church pledged, on the spot, how many people they’d lead to Christ before his next visit in about two months.

By the time Martin made his way back…the FJCCA leaders had far exceeded their goals, starting 74 house churches and converting 782 people in just 54 days.

Check out the Global Harvest website that’s shaking up Asia and laying out the need, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Source: Christianity Today and Brigada

In 2060: 6 African Countries Anticipated to be in top 10 Christian-populated Nations

You read that right. By 2060, the Pew Research Center expects these countries to be the top ten countries with the largest Christian populations. (Spoiler: Africa already has more Christians than any other continent.)

Keep in mind that identifying as Christian does not mean the Gospel has permeated any of our hearts–but this information is important as we seek to understand what God’s doing in the world.

What’s this tell us about missions trends? Al Mohler postulates–and points out what is obviously missing from the top ten: Any European nations.

Source: Al Mohler, The Briefing

What to Know Before You Go

Amy Medina offers great advice just for the likes of you in her post “What to Know before You Go” on ALifeOverseas.com. Medina writes,

Let’s say you are boarding a transatlantic flight and hear, “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen; this is your pilot speaking. I’m 21 years old, and I’m excited to tell you that this is my first commercial flight! But don’t you worry; I’ve flown my Daddy’s crop duster at least a half dozen times. What I don’t have in experience or education, I make up with passion. I’m just about as willing as they come; my heart is practically bursting with willingness! Now buckle up your seatbelts; we’ll be off as soon as I find that user’s manual.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d be out of that plane faster than a fried egg off a Teflon pan.

Yet sometimes we approach missions in the same way. Willing hearts filled with passion are awesome, but they are not enough.

What do you need to know? Don’t miss Ms. Medina’s take.

Source: ALifeOverseas.com


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