If the Lord has called you to the missions field, you are preparing for an exciting and difficult life. Missionaries often give up a great deal of their worldly possessions and leave behind family to go where the Lord has called them.
Missions work can be very lonely at times, especially for single men and women. Therefore, it is important that missionaries spend a great deal of time in regular prayer to keep their relationship with God strong. Prayer also is important because it is through prayer that God will disclose to what country or people the missionary is called.
Once you have a firm idea of where the Lord desires to send you, I highly recommend choosing colleges based on the availability of cultural studies programs. If you feel that you are called to be a missionary in Africa, for instance, choose a school that has a good African studies program. There also are other organizations that focus on missions; one in particular, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), specifically focuses on “giving young people opportunities to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the whole world.”
Other beneficial certifications and degrees for missionaries include sociology, global studies, and teaching English to speakers of other languages certifications. I also recommend several years of language study based on the country you will be working in.
Now you have prepared yourself through prayer and study, but you’re not done yet! You eventually will need to raise the money to get to the country to which you are being called. It is a good idea to work with your pastor, who can help you find resources specific to your denomination, understand the financial aspects, and assist with any passport or visa issues related to an extended stay in the country of your calling.
One of the most important things to remember while you are waiting for God to confirm a call to missions work is that the biggest missions field often is our own neighborhoods. People right where we live need the love of Jesus, need to be fed, clothed and shown that they still have value. While God does not call everyone to out-of-country missionary work, He does call all of us to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).
Do you feel like God might be calling you into missions work?
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’ (Matthew 25:35-36, 40).