07 Feb Who Are Missionaries
“Tell Me About Them Please.”
[Teachers In Service has become increasingly aware that some visitors to our web site have questions about
what we believed to be fundamental Christianity: Overseas missions, why they exist, what is their purpose,
how are they different from the people in my neighborhood church? Following is that information.]
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What are missionaries? Who are they? What do missionaries do? And why?
Missionaries and their work can seem mysterious to non-Christians and even to some Christians. If you are not a Christian but happened on this site, please read on and gain some understanding about the work of Christians and why the Christian faith is important.
If you are a Christian you may know about missionaries only from a newsletter their church posts on a bulletin board or on Facebook. Sometimes missionaries’ prayer requests and practical needs appear in a church bulletin and now and then a missionary family on furlough speaks at church. Still, in some people’s minds, missionaries are hard to figure out.
So who and what are missionaries, really?
Christ told his disciples, “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.” (Mathew 24:14) Later on in Matthew Christ told his disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) A Bible verse from a different Gospel writer says something similar: “And the Gospel must first be preached to all nations.” (Mark 13:10)
Every nation has heard not yet heard the Word of God. Many are still waiting. This means missionaries’ work is not complete and many are laboring toward this goal.
The above Bible verses 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 view Christian life as more than involvement in their neighborhood church. There is nothing wrong with local churches, of course, but some individuals have a keen understanding that the continuum that began with Christ’s disciples continues to this day and they ask, “Is there something I can do towards this end? Should I get out of my pew and serve the Lord as a missionary?”
For individuals whose radar is beeping there may be a doubting, a questioning, a bit of confusion. They may ask, “Where do I begin?” and “Who do I talk to?” They search their Bibles for insights and understanding. They pray for God’s wisdom, direction, opening of doors, or closing of doors.
They consult with pastors, parents, and friends, some of whom try and discourage them. They search the Internet. They contact missionary organizations, ask questions, pray for guidance, and, seeing themselves as part of God’s plan to reach the uttermost parts of the world, they get out of their pew and eventually go overseas to serve the Lord.
What do missionaries do?
Missionaries do many things. Some work on the front lines as Bible translators, literacy workers, pastors, church planters, etc. (Click here for a short movie about the Lord’s work.)
Other missionaries 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?
Many 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—shopping, opening a bank account, talking to a doctor, driving, etc.
Missionaries 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: they put their faith in God’s protection and, in addition, they take precautions like having bars on windows and gates around their houses.
What about the education of missionaries’ children?
Missionary children may be educated at home, in a national school, or in a school or educational situation for children of missionaries.
What does Teachers In Service do for missionaries?
Teachers in Service (TIS) works in the pursuit of teachers to teach children of missionaries. “Why do they do this?” One of the most common reasons missionaries leave the field is that educational needs of their children are not being met. And believe it or not, many schools and related educational situations simply do not have enough teachers!
In other cases missionaries stay on the field, set aside their own work for the Lord and assume the role of a teacher. Neither scenario is acceptable!
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. If you are interested in exploring teaching children of missionaries, please take a look at the rest of this web site. You mightbegin here.
If you are not a Christian, please locate a Bible, read John 3:16, and locate and attend a Christian church that teaches and practices this verse.
Thank you very much for your interest in missions and missionaries as indicated by your reading this page.
Blessings on you as you explore becoming a missionary for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thom Votaw, President, TIS
* In addition to overseas missionaries there are other missionaries who in their home country 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 prisoners. (Matthew 25: 35-36)