Have you ever felt called to overseas mission but thought you weren’t the right person to go? When thinking about engaging in cross-cultural mission, sometimes we can feel like the biggest barrier is ourselves. It can be so easy to have self-doubt:
Am I really cut out for mission?
The thought of sharing my faith with a stranger terrifies me!
Wouldn’t somebody more skilled or more outgoing than me be better?
How can God use me?
Certain roles and skills often come to mind when thinking about mission, such as doctors, evangelists, engineers, and preachers. We also tend to think of bold, outgoing personalities who are willing to proclaim the gospel to everyone they meet. Maybe you feel like you would make a second-class missionary as you’re not trained in any of these professions or you’re not naturally bold and outgoing. Perhaps you think somebody else would do a better job.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 is an encouragement to all who have ever questioned God’s calling because of self-doubt:
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
Paul even goes on to say that he proclaimed the gospel to the Corinthians ‘in weakness with great fear and trembling’ (1 Corinthians 2:3).
God gives you the gifts you need
To get involved in cross-cultural mission, you don’t need to be the boldest, the most outgoing, or have the strongest set of skills. If God is calling you, there is a place for you and the talents he has equipped you with. An enormous diversity of skills and spiritual gifts are helpful on the mission field: hospitality, befriending, serving others, chatting, encouragement, admin, IT, teaching, language learning – the list is endless.
Of course, there are always more skills to be learned and more confidence to be gained, but these will come with time. Entering the mission field with humility and with prayerfulness that God will use and guide you is far better than going in thinking you have all the answers.
In some contexts, particularly ones where Christians are persecuted, gifts typically associated with mission, such as street evangelism and preaching, are often less helpful than some of the others we’ve looked at. Some of the most helpful skills are ones that build relationships, or that support and enable others to do so. As we make new friends, we can have deeper conversations about faith, God, and the meaning of life, and we can walk with those who begin to seek after Jesus in their journeys of discipleship.
This article is part of Arab World Ministry of Pioneers' series 'What's stopping you?', exploring the barriers to getting involved in overseas mission and how God is at work in the midst of them. Click here to check out the rest of the series.