Hello, friend! I’m so glad you have chosen to spend some time reading some of my thoughts today. In fact, if you are reading this, chances are that you are a person in at least one of these three categories:
- You have already been abroad.
- You are planning to go abroad in the near future.
- You are just hesitantly interested in the idea of going abroad.
Now, as someone who has not only gone on multiple short-term trips and summer mission programs, but who also works to mobilize others to serve abroad, I have found that one question seems to plague all who are going…
Am I ready?
This is a natural question to ask. And today, I want to share with you some areas to examine, techniques to use, and resources that will help any of you—regardless of what category you are in now—answer that nagging question with a resounding “YES!”
Seek Him more.
“Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” -John Piper
This one seems obvious, but nothing else matters if this isn’t in place: Be sure that you are making your relationship with Christ priority number one.
Ask your pastor, missions director, or team leader for resources that will help you focus your quite times to think about living missionally. It doesn’t matter how much culture, language, or evangelism training you go through if you are not abiding in Him. None of your attempts to share or grow will be what He wants them to be. If you aren’t living a lifestyle of worship now, then don’t expect to lead others to know and worship Jesus in another country.
That being said, you can’t change yesterday. I have met so many who want to go and serve, but they feel guilty for what they didn’t do before they began to explore or signed up for a trip, and that hinders them. Don’t let the enemy trap you in guilt. The Lord has called you to it now! Lay aside yesterday and press on for the upward calling set before you!
Pray! Pray! Pray!
Prayer is the most important missionary endeavor, and yet it is the one we value the least.
Pray alone. Pray as a team before meeting to leave (if possible). Pray with mentors. Pray for yourself. Pray for your team, for things like dynamics and witness. Pray for salvations. (*Check out joushuaproject.net and opendoorsusa.org for prayer requests in the nations!).
Pray. Everything else you do is so small compared to your acts of faith-filled, expectant prayers!
If you are abiding in Christ and preparing through prayer, then this step in the process will actually become very small in your mind. I mean, it can be daunting! But if you are sure He is leading, and you have been gripped by His word and the urgency of the task, then you will trust that He is going to provide. The financial hurdles will be the smallest to overcome on your journey to serve abroad.
That being said, here are a few ideas for support raising:
- Support Letter.Explain what, when, where, why, and how the reader can partner with you. Send the letter to as many people as you can think of. (I always send out at least 60.)*
- T-shirts.People love t-shirts, especially when they support a cause. Selling shirts can be profitable, as long as you can sell a bunch. Check out Fund the Nations for great rates and awesome designs!
- Selling goods.If you are crafty, then make something like paracord bracelets, or paint small canvases to sell. This is a little more time-intensive, but people love buying handmade stuff from people they are wanting to support.
- Carwash/yard sale/bake sale. See if members of your church would host a yard sale, car wash, or bake sale and allow all the proceeds to go towards your trip! This is also a great way to get your church family involved and feel connected to you as you prepare to go.
- Online giving portals.GoFundMe-type websites are great for setting a goal and getting the word out about your need. And it’s free! (Be sure to watch out for the transaction fees on these sites, though.)
*Be sure that any promotion you do at churches, in letters, or online is within the security parameters appropriate for the area you are going. If you aren’t sure what those are, be sure to check with the mission program leaders or the field workers before doing any kind of promotion.
Obviously, there are a lot more options out there to help you raise support; these are just the ones that I have found to be the best to use. And the more personal you can make the request to individuals, the better.
Over the years, I have also learned that I am not supposed to worry as much about raising my support as I am supposed to be a good steward of what I have and trusting that He will provide. Fundraisers are fine, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s up to you to get you there. This is God’s task you are on. Ultimately, it is His responsibility. And if He is in it, He always provides!
Once you know where you are going, do research to find out about the people, language, and cultural customs there. See if you can find pictures of where you are going online. Use all of this information as a way to have even more specific prayer requests for yourself and the area you will be going to.
Also, take time to really discover why international missions is important. Search Scripture for any mention of “the nations.” You will be amazed! Read some articles about missionaries from the past (Hudson Taylor, John G. Patton, Jim Elliot, Lottie Moon, etc). You will learn so much, be convicted and challenged by their stories, and prime your heart for what He is going to teach you on your journey with Him abroad.
Just be you!
Finally, but most importantly, keep being you. God has asked YOU to go. He knows all about your strengths and weaknesses. He knows you better than you know you. And it is no accident that He chose you.
So don’t try to become a super-Christian for this. Don’t try to become like that girl or guy you think is the epitome of the cross-cultural missionary type. Just keep being you. He will do a great work in you and through you.
You are just along for the ride. In going abroad, you really have one job, and it’s the same as when you stay at home: TRUST. HIM. Life is too short and eternity is too long for anything else.
For His Name,
*name changed for security purposes