FAQ's

1. How do I know if I am really "called" to career missions?
   2. Do I major in missions, or some other profession that will be useful in a mission setting?
   3. Why serve the Friends Church when there are so many other mission organizations out there?
   4. What if my parents do not approve of my desire to be a missionary?
   5. Can a single person go to the mission field?
   6. Why can’t we just be missionaries right where we are?
   7. Will I have to raise financial support?
   8. What if I feel called to missions but have no idea where I might serve?
   9. How do missionaries take care of retirement, health insurance, taxes, investments, and similar financial matters?
  10. Is a career in missions a lifelong commitment?
  11. What spiritual gifts are most helpful in missions? What about skills?
  12. How do I handle my debts and still go into missions?
  13. How do I prepare for a career in missions?
  14. Where do you recommend I go for missions training?
  15. What about bi-vocational missions?
  16. How can I ethically justify going to a closed country as an "undercover" missionary?
  17. Are there mission opportunities in the US?
  18. I have trouble learning languages. Is there still a place I can serve?
  19. Why do missions?
  20. What is the biblical basis for missions?
  21. What things do experienced missionaries wish they had known before they went?
  22. How do I explore a specific mission field?

How do I know if I am really “called” to career Missions?
First, ask the Lord to let you know his will for you. Ask with a willing heart. As you continue in Bible study, prayer, and talking with godly leaders, our Lord will graciously lead you step by step. Second, explore cross-cultural ministries, such as churches that minister from other cultures. Third, develop your strengths, skills, and abilities. Fourth, relax and trust God to show you what he wants you to do in his own time and in his own ways. Also, look under “Resources” in the “Call to Missionary Service.”

    * Back to Top

Do I major in missions or some other profession that will be useful in a mission setting?
Yes, a mission’s major is first choice. College can help prepare a person for life, so many different majors could be useful. However, a field that interests you such as history, business, psychology, anthropology, humanities, literature, and especially teaching will help you enter some countries. In addition to formal education, focus on developing your own spiritual life, how to share the gospel, how to answer difficult questions, and how to help new believers grow. Exposure to real-life evangelism and service opportunities will help you prepare for the ministry God has for you.

    * Back to Top

Why serve the Friends Church when there are so many other mission organizations out there?
Those who go with interdenominational agencies discover that the churches they plant will form a new denomination, so it makes sense to learn what God has already taught us as Friends. Look at the widely varied opportunities available through Friends Church organizations, and you will see that we are engaged in lots of exciting and effective ventures. EFM takes really good care of its missionaries. Its family is small and personal. For example, our retirement package is the best (large or small agency). We also provide medical and life insurance, good education for children, and travel funds to and from the field. You always have a coach who is just a phone call or email away. The pre-field training will save you tons of trouble. Why not start where God has planted you?

    * Back to Top

What if my parents do not approve of my desire to be a missionary?
First, of course, you pray. Ask God for patience and the right spirit of trust and obedience as you prepare, as well as for God to change your parents’ hearts. Ask the Lord to guide you and make your calling certain. Ask him to bring people into your parents’ lives who will influence them positively toward missions. Talk casually with your parents from time to time about missions. Ask what it will take to receive their blessing and permission. Remind them that websites, email, phone, and travel bring the grandkids close to home. As he works in your heart and life, ask him also to prepare your parents’ hearts.

    * Back to Top

Can a single person go to the mission field?
Yes. Some single missionaries have found that they can serve God more effectively in some countries or settings than if they were married. If he wants you to remain single, he will confirm this. Others have found that as they surrender to the Lord their desire to be married, he brought the right person into his or her life and they were able to serve Him as a married couple. One caution. Only date someone who shares your call to the mission field.

    * Back to Top

Why can’t we just be missionaries right where we are?
As committed believers, we are to be faithful witnesses wherever we are. God calls many believers to serve where we are. This is consistent with a global perspective that includes local, national, and worldwide needs. God calls many to serve in distant lands, following His mandate to reach all peoples, even in areas where few if any Christians live. By definition, a missionary crosses a language or cultural barrier. Are you willing to evangelize and disciple people to reach others in their own lands? Are you willing to learn a language? What do your youth pastor and other Christian mentors say about your calling? Ask the Lord to impress on your mind and heart where and how he wants you to serve him. One Christian said, "You need a specific reason to stay home, not a specific call to go to the mission field." The heart of the Lamb is for every nation, tribe, language, and people, so follow him wherever he goes.

    * Back to Top

Will I have to raise financial support?
EFM missionaries, as well as many others, raise financial support. This can be a challenging but rewarding experience. You learn to see this, as one missionary said, not as "I’m asking for money" but "I’m telling people about what God is doing (or wants to do) and giving them a chance to be part of it." It is important to realize that people are not giving money to you, but they are giving to the Lord in support of what he has called you to do. They become vital partners in God’s work to which he has called you. It is part of their Christian stewardship. It’s team building, not begging.

    * Back to Top

What if I feel called to missions but have no idea where I might serve?
God calls some people to a specific field and others he simply calls to missions without a geographic location. It’s a good thing he does. With resignations, retirements, changing needs and issues of "team fit," EFM and all mission agencies need people who will go where their gifts and personality are needed most. Praise the Lord for your flexibility!

    * Back to Top

How do missionaries take care of retirement, health insurance, taxes, investments, and similar financial matters?
In EFM each missionary raises a salary package that includes health insurance and 20% retirement. The amount of 20% sounds high, but because of the small amount of take-home pay that missionaries receive, the actual dollar figure is similar to what many Friends churches in the United States give for their pastors' retirements. EFM also pays the fees for taxes to be prepared professionally. Because of a large deduction that the IRS allows for living abroad, most missionaries do not pay US taxes. However, filing is essential for Social Security and for proper preparation for a ministerial housing allowance upon retirement. Our office helps with these important matters.

    * Back to Top

Is a career in missions a lifelong commitment?
If you do well on the mission field, we hope the Lord will keep you there for a long time. Most missionaries do their best work after 7-8 years in the host country. It takes time to develop ministry skills, language and culture fluency, and the full confidence of national leaders. EFM requires two 3-year terms (six years total plus one more for language school if needed) for a career missionary. Normally a 4-month furlough comes between these terms. (Modern travel and world culture now means that there are some fields, settings, and ministries where specialized services can be offered for shorter periods of time, but even these ministries are often greatly enhanced by a long-term commitment.)

    * Back to Top

What spiritual gifts are most helpful in missions? What about skills?
Different host countries have varying needs. Gifts for public ministry–apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are what we most often look for. (See Ephesians 4:11-13). However, whatever spiritual gifts God has given you will be useful. In a similar way, almost any skill is an asset. Some missionaries are better with speaking skills, but those with serving/doing/fixing skills are the most popular among other missionaries (and often national leaders).

    * Back to Top

How do I handle my debts and still go into missions?

We encourage you not to accrue consumer debt. Drive an older car. Cut up those credit cards, or pay them off at every billing cycle. Live simply. These are good disciplines for future missionaries. Owning a house in an appreciating neighborhood may prove an asset rather than a liability. We seldom consider this a debt if your appreciation and the sale of your house will pay off what you owe.

School debt is another matter. We urge you to hold it to a minimum. However, we do allow missionary candidates to raise enough support beyond their salary and expenses to pay their minimum school loan payment each month. No one gets out of debt quickly this way, but it does allow you to go to the mission field and pay on school loans at the same time.

    * Back to Top

How do I prepare for a career in missions?

Think about both formal and informal learning. On the academic side, most mission agencies require at least one year of Bible instruction and training from an accredited institution. A few non-credit, online courses are so good that EFM (and some others) will accept them. However, the disciplines of academic study—reading, discussing ideas, memorizing, taking tests, writing papers—prepare your mind and your habits for most any career, including missions.

A major in missions or international studies is the first choice for those who know for sure that they will go on to seminary. If you plan on seminary, then a major in anthropology, sociology, business, or psychology will be helpful. Some have found that the hard sciences open doors of opportunity. If you take this route, plan to attend a seminary with a degree in missions, or possibly a missions major.

On the non-credit level (and also available for credit), the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course is unrivaled. It’s available in many churches each year, and also online. With 150 classes each year in North America check www.perspectives.org to see if it might be offered somewhere near you, or if you prefer, take the online course. It is also offered as a one-week and three-week intensive in Pasadena, California.

    * Back to Top

Where do you recommend we go for missions training?

On the college level, Barclay College and George Fox University have good missions or international studies majors. Majors in Christian ministry or biblical studies could be appropriate for some. For those attending Malone, Friends University, William Penn, or any Christian college (or for others interested), George Fox University has a semester of study available each spring in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in cooperation with Bolivian Evangelical University. Dr. Ron Stansell, Professor of International studies, is an experienced missionary. He and his wife Carolyn served with Northwest Friends in Bolivia for fifteen years. One advantage of this program is that you pay your normal college tuition to your home institution, and they accept the semester’s credits. Schools in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) already have agreements like this in place.

On the graduate level, the Friends Center at Azusa Pacific University has a missions major, but not yet a full master’s degree. Fuller Seminary’s School of International Studies and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s masters and doctoral degrees in missions are highly renowned. Please check the catalog of various evangelical institutions.

    * Back to Top

What about bi-vocational missions?

Bi-vocational missionaries can bear a remarkable witness for our Lord Jesus Christ. Northwest Yearly Meeting offers a Teachers Abroad program that sends teachers (college graduates of any major) to China, Hungary, and other countries. Most are hired and paid by the host country. The limitations on bi-vocational missionaries come with the time factor. Without the conveniences we take for granted in North America, it takes so much time just to live. Imagine no refrigerator, no frozen foods, irregular electricity, no Laundromat, no carpet, no indoor heat—and then figure out how much time it takes to resolve these problems in a society with a much slower pace of life. Many bi-vocational missionaries find themselves exhausted by their jobs and the time it takes simply to exist. They have little time or energy left for actual missionary tasks outside of their jobs. In Europe, however, the picture is quite different. The conveniences are there, but so is the high cost of living. It’s a trade-off. Yet the witness that can be given through a quality profession and the positive relationships that can be built may be invaluable and the only way to be credible in some settings.

One of the current trends in missions is Business as Mission. Business owners start legitimate, profit-making ventures in the Majority World countries. They bear Christian witness to their employees, use some non-work time for ministry, and dedicate a portion of their profits to missionary enterprises. One company dedicated 30% of its profits to mission efforts in the city where it was located. Like all missionary ventures, this approach has its risks. Entangled local taxes, strange regulations, and corrupt governments can all take their toll. On the other hand, these businesses build great credibility for the gospel when they pay their taxes, manage their employees well, and provide many jobs for the community. For more information read Great Commission Companies by Steve Rundle and Tom Steffen (Intervarsity Press, 2003).

    * Back to Top

How can I ethically justify going to a closed country as an "undercover" missionary?

This question calls for two answers. First, no country has God-given authority to deny the right to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. The early apostles declared this biblical principle when the Jewish Sanhedrin (ruling Council of Elders) ordered them not to teach in the name of Jesus. "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29)

Second, missionaries who go with a business or educational visa, must be true to what they declare, and not simply use it for a cover. They may start a profitable business and employ nationals, teach English, do consulting, or offer any service that the host country wants and gives a visa for. It is unethical, however, for missionaries to claim to be what they are not, or to enter a country under false pretenses. However, it is fully ethical to carry on a legitimate business, teach in a school, serve in a medical field or any other government-approved service, and at the same time unapologetically serve as a witness for Jesus Christ. Most countries are willing to tolerate some missionary activity in order to gain the economic and social benefits the missionary has to offer. (This varies from country to country).

    * Back to Top

Are there mission opportunities in the US?
Yes, many. EFM has a mission to the Navajos, centered in Rough Rock, Arizona. Roy and Jinky Twaddell conduct home churches (Simple Churches) among Farsi speakers in the United States and Europe. Evangelical Friends Church Southwest has a growing ministry to homeless and marginalized people, led by Fred Newkirk of Inner Cities Ministries. An increasing number of ethnic churches–Hispanic, Haitian, and Cambodian–are emerging among evangelical Friends. In addition, sizable people groups from most of the nations of the world reside in our major cities, and in some rural communities. The opportunities for cross-cultural missions are immense right here in the United States. Check with your local school district and ask how many languages are spoken in the homes of students in public schools. Also ask which schools have the largest enrollments of non-English (as a first language) speakers. The answers may surprise you.

    * Back to Top

I have trouble learning languages. Is there still a place I can serve?

Even babies can learn a new language! The key is usage and persistence. You learned English when you did not know a word. You can learn another language by immersion in the culture and constant effort for several years. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is in demand in many countries of the world. All of the communication, inside the classroom and outside of it, is in English. Some missionaries need homeschool teachers for their children. If you cannot or will not learn a new language, you can still find some role in missions. However, it’s second choice because learning the local language helps you understand culture and the ways of the people. This is especially important when conflict arises, as it always does.

    * Back to Top

Why do missions?
   1. God gets the glory.
   2. The nations get the gospel.
   3. The church gets the blessing of God.

You can find all three of these themes in Revelation Chapter 7.

    * Back to Top

What is the biblical basis for missions?

God’s plan for the nations runs from Genesis to Revelation. It begins with Genesis 12:2-3 where God promises Abraham, "I will bless you…and you will be a blessing…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." God’s purposes come to a climax in the new heavens and new earth, the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22. The New Jerusalem is where "the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp."

Revelation 21:24-26 says, "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it."

The Great Commission appears in various forms.

    Read:

    * Matthew 28:16-20

    * Mark 16:15

    * Luke 24:45-49

    * John 20:21

    * Acts 1:8

    * Romans 1:5

    * Romans 10:13-15

Some little known biblical prophecies give exciting predictions of what God plans for the nations.

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Habakkuk 2:14

"The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land." Zephaniah 2:11

"My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun." Malachi 1:11

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:  "'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'" Revelation 7:9-10

For an excellent book on the glory of God and the biblical basis of missions, read John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Baker Books, 1993). Another fine book by Rose Dowsett is The Great Commission, (Monarch Books, 2001).


    * Back to Top

What things do experienced missionaries wish they had known before they went?

Ask them. This is a great question to ask missionaries on furlough or who have retired.

For a good introduction to becoming a new missionary (and an answer to the above question), read Thomas Hale, On Being a Missionary, (William Carey Library, 1995). Please ignore his bad counsel about paying bribes. In EFM we instruct our missionaries not to pay bribes at all, not ever. The difference between a fee and a bribe is that a fee is public knowledge, the same for everyone, and it goes to the government or agency. A bribe is under the table, varies with the circumstances, and goes to the official’s pocket. Unfortunately, some countries pay their public employees so little that they force them into the expected bribery. Many missionaries have great stories about bribe attempts, and how they overcame them!

You can find additional information and answers to your questions by talking to EFM leaders, to missionaries, and to other Christian leaders. You may find it helpful to check out some online resources, such as these websites:

www.thejourneydeepens.com/askamissionary.asp

www.urbana.org/ns.aj.main.cfm

    * Back to Top

How do I explore a specific mission field?

Take a vision trip. If you can take someone highly discerning and/or a powerful intercessor, it is all the better.

    * Do your homework. Check out the country, the ministry, the people, the sending agency, the finances, etc.

    * Hold a meeting for clearness. Gather your most trusted and discerning friends to discuss options and seek God's will. Have them come to consensus, or give specific recommendations if needed.

    * Take the missionary candidate fitness interviews. This may seem unnecessary in your case, but I think you will find it helpful. An excellent source is: International Personnel Consultants, PO Box 1220, 421 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, CO 80133. The first step is all by mail in written tests. The second step is an interview by one of their consultants, located in various parts of the country. The second step may not be necessary.

    * Confirm God's call. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Ask the strongest pray-ers you know to intercede that God's will may become abundantly clear to you.

    * Back to Top