Jeff Boesel, Director of Mobilization for One Challenge, shares his story today.
I sat there, phone in hand, gazing out the massive, slanting windows of my control tower.
God had answered my prayer. Well. Correction. He’d just called my bluff.
In my tenth year as an air traffic controller God had begun an active stirring in the hearts of my wife and me. Lighting up like the Vegas strip, everything around us seemed to point to a move to become global workers.
Sure, both of our parents had done that. But we weren’t convinced that was our path. Still, we were praying.
We were praying that God would close the door.
It was at that point I made an agreement with God. It was one I thought was solidly in my favor. The deal: I told God that if someone called us from overseas and asked for us to come and work with them, we would go. (I mean, what are the chances, right?!)
And now, he had done just that.
That was my wife on the phone. Her parents, working in Germany at the time, needed someone to come to work with them, directing a school for missionary children that they had started. My first thought was “Parents don’t count!”
But even I couldn’t deny God had met my requirements to the letter.
How can I go overseas the right way?
First, let me say that everyone’s path is different, so there is not really an exact “right” place to begin. If you are the type of person that strives to get it right, let yourself off the hook with this one. If God wants you somewhere, he’ll get you there. (I mean, he whisked Philip from the road to Gaza off to Samaria in the Spirit. I think I’ll take that over, what, 30 hours to India or whatever. Must have been some trip!)
Pray about this a lot!
I feel like I should put about 40 emojis on that one. Because I can’t stress it enough.The path from here to there in missions is not usually an easy one. You’ll have opportunities out the wazoo to question if you’re truly on the right path. In fact, you’ll have opportunities both before you zip up the last bag–and well after you arrive.
To the extent possible, you need to find peace that this is, indeed, what God has planned for you next. And prayer’s where you find it.
Talk to your home fellowship (church) leadership.
Before you spend lots of time on the internet searching for places to go or agencies to help you get there, make the most of resources hangin’ right next to you every Sunday. Your church may have all kinds of training and preparation opportunities available for those wanting to serve cross-culturally.
Believe me, wherever you end up, you’re going to want a strong foundation at home to truly send you (Romans 10:15), and keep sending you. You set all of you up for success if you step onto this path hand-in-hand with them.
Communicate with current missionaries that you know.
One of your best aces in the hole: People out there already doing what you think God is leading you to do.
How did they get their start? What do they wish that they had known when they were where you are? How would they recommend that you prepare? Most of us know at least one global worker. Get ’em on Facetime (or email, Facebook, or Skype, etc.). Start asking questions and carefully listening to what they have to say. You will be helped. Bonus: They’ll love it too.
Pray for the world.
“Um, didn’t you say that already?” Touche. But now, pray for those who still need to meet Jesus. Prayer is the sharpest knife in our drawer. Remember, if anything really is to happen in the kingdom, it will happen because God wills it to happen. Our major part in bringing about God’s will is prayer. Operation World (published by Intervarsity Press)–a comprehensive guide on praying for every country in the world!–is a Cadillac kind of guide to use, but there’s a lot of other good ones, too.
Engage the far away that’s right around the corner.
Sure, you’re geared up to go to the ends of the earth. But dude–God’s bringing the ends here, not far from where you park your car. You probably have first-gen immigrants bunking right there in your community.
If you’re thinking you want to crush this evangelism/poverty relief thing somewhere else where you’ve got to learn all the cultural cues, why not start right next door?
My experience: minority cultures tend to group. (Global workers do it too, when they’re overseas.) You might start with food. If there’s an ethnic community near you there will be a place close by that says to them, There’s no place like home.
Um, didn’t you forget…?
You mean a short term mission trip? Well, trips cost money, for one thing. None of what I have mentioned above — besides perhaps buying a copy of Operation World— will cost you a cent. Since there are so many things you can do without needing money, why not start there and let God lead you into the more expensive stuff as those steps become clear? (Editor’s note: check out the “Adventures” tab on this site. It’s got some great “tasters” specifically designed for those of you curious if you’re ready for the overseas thing.)
This list isn’t the whole shebang. But if you try all of it and God’s still got you moving in an overseas direction, start checking out an agency family to partner with.
Your Great Commission waits. What are you waiting for?
Editor’s note: This answer first appeared as an article here. Reprinted with permission.
HELP US OUT! What steps have you taken in your path toward serving God overseas?