Overseas Missionaries

Who are they? What do they do? And why?


For those unfamiliar with missionaries, who they are and what they do may seem mysterious and hard to figure out.  Some may only know about missionaries from a newsletter through their church.  Some may have heard about prayer requests or practical needs of missionaries from postings appearing on a church bulletin board. Others may have heard a missionary family speak at their church, but still be unsure of what a missionary actually is.

Who and what are missionaries?

Missionaries view the Christian life as more than just involvement in their neighborhood church.  They feel a calling to go out and spread the Word of God.  They hear a call to action from Isaiah, “Here am I, Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) They understand that they could be ambassadors for Christ (2Corinthians 5:20) and could contribute to spreading His Word.  There is nothing wrong with being involved in local churches, of course, but some individuals gain an understanding that the continuum that began with Christ’s apostles continues to this day and they ask themselves, “What else is there for me other than the local happenings at church?”

Christ mentioned to his disciples, ” And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to al nations and then the end will come.” (Mathew 24:14)

Later on in Mathew Christ did not just mention again that the Gospel would be preached to all nations.  Rather, it was far more emphatic when He told the disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Mathew 28:19)

Mark says something similar: “And the Gospel must first be preached to all nations.” (Mark 13:10)

In the last book of the Bible, John says that there “was a great multitude that no one could count, every nation, tribe, people, and language…(Revelation 7:9a).  This implies that missionaries’ work is not complete since many have not heard the Word of God.

The above Bible verses and needs resonate with individuals whose radar is sensitized by God.  They recognize that the overseas missionary endeavor is Biblical, is real, and is worthy.  They understand the need for their first-hand involvement.  They feel a call to action, but they may have questions, confusion, and doubts.  They may ask, “Where do I begin?” and “Who do I talk to?”

As a result, They search their Bible for insights and understanding.  They pray for God’s wisdom, direction, opening of doors, or closing of doors.

What do missionaries do?

Missionaries do many things. Some work on the front lines: Bible translators, literacy workers, pastors, and church planters, for example.

Others work in support of those on the front lines. Behind the scenes you’ll find computer specialists, business people, food service people, pilots, medical personnel, administrators, wood workers, accountants, secretaries, school teachers, and many more.

Whether front-liners or support personnel, they all see themselves as part of God’s plan to take His Word to the uttermost parts of the world.

What is it like living on the mission field?

Missionaries are supported in prayer and finances by family, friends, and their church back home. Their finances are channeled through a missionary organization with whom they have become associated. They do not receive a “salary” like a job would be back in their passport country. Rather, they seek support from those who identify with what they are doing for the Lord.

In many locations missionaries learn the local language in order to carry out their work and manage their domestic life (e.g. shopping, opening a bank account, talking to a doctor,  driving).

Living in a grass hut is a thing of the past. Missionaries typically live in houses or apartments similar to those in their home country.

In some locations they cannot drink water from a faucet, the electricity is 220 volts and not 110, and mosquitoes may carry malaria—but have no fear: Missionaries have long since found ways to work around these situations and many others.

Missionaries’ work may involve being in dangerous locations. (But remember, there are places in the US, Canada, and the UK where a person would not be safe to walk at night.) The Lord said “Go!” and that involves living in countries where missionaries both pray and take practical measures for their safety.  They put their faith in God’s protection and they take precautions.

What about missionaries’ children?

Children of missionaries are God’s Blessings to their parents. Part of the planning to go to the mission field involves children: their health, safety and education.  Mission organizations totally understand these issues and children are factored into the whole preparation process.

Where the parents go to serve the Lord will determine the educational opportunities available for their children.  Some places have an ideal situation where there is a school for children of missionaries, taught in English and following a US curriculum.  Other places are not so ideal and the options are limited to local schools set up by the government of the country where the parents will be living, secular schools set up for expats living in the area (e.g. embassy children), home schooling for younger children and a boarding school some distance away for older children, and nontraditional situations where, for example, parents team together to create one room school situation where parents take turns teaching the children.

One thing is for certain:  When educational needs of the children of missionaries are not met, parents are faced with the decision to return home or become teachers themselves, thus leaving their work for the Lord undone.  Neither scenario is acceptable.

Mission organizations and other organizations are constantly recruiting teachers to prevent these situations from arising.  Still, some situations exist at the beginning of every year where there are not enough teachers.

How does Teachers In Service contribute to the shortfall of teachers?

Teachers In Service was established to contribute to the pursuit of teachers for children of missionaries.  Their work is limited to those schools and educational situations who have the hardest time finding teachers.  Namely, those schools and situations who have donation, faith-supported teachers–just like the parents of the children they teach.

Teachers In Service purses teachers for these schools and situations by use of this web site, by social media, by Google advertisements, and by promoting teaching opportunities for each school and situation.

Click here for information about where to begin the process of teaching children of missionaries.


Perhaps this information resonates with you. Maybe God has sensitized your radar and it’s buzzing.  If you have questions, doubts, or just need to talk, please contact Thom Votaw, President of Teachers In Service.

Thank you very much for your interest in overseas missions.

Blessings on you as you explore becoming a missionary for our Lord Jesus Christ.


*  In addition to overseas missionaries, there are, many who work in their home country.  They are people who take to heart Jesus’ words about feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, welcoming a stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the prisoners.  (Matthew 25: 35-36)

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