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Future missionaries? *update at end*


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My oldest daughter has said for years that she wants to be a missionary in the country of Tanzania after school.  She's graduated from homeschooling now and trying to figure out the steps to make that work.  She originally thought that she might be a teacher for impoverished children there.  However, she is not finding that teaching is not her calling after taking a intro to education class in college. Shes trying to figure out exactly how she can be used best in Tanzania, desiring to work with children the most.  She is considering working in an orphanage.  She now feels that the college route may not be best for her, as she said it just doesn't feel right.

Anyone  else graduated a child, who then went to serve overseas? Any advice you can give?  

Edited by charlotteb
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I haven't graduated a child who has gone overseas yet, but I have a dd who is interested in being a missionary. My parents were also missionaries and I lived in a 3rd world country for 10 years as a child. I think that it can really enhance your ability to help others in these countries if you have a skill or skills. Healthcare skills are fantastic ones to have, such as an RN, Dr etc. Also things like mechanic, building etc skills. I would personally encourage my dd to stay in college and get something under their belt if at all possible. I know that at 18 it seems imperative to rush and get somewhere we want to be, but it's so much harder to go back to things like college later, and you never know what life is going to throw at you. Of course, if it is completely unbearable to her than that is a different thing entirely.

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Agree that its best to have skills before serving overseas, but if college doesn't feel like a good fit right now, a shorter term overseas (6 months or one year) might be a great experience, giving her a taste of life wherever she wants to go, as well as showing her ways she can prepare herself to go there longer term.  I have friends who have been working in Tanzania for many years - you can PM me for contact info.

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My DD is only 14 but is similarly convinced she's is going to serve overseas someday. I have encouraged her to prepare for that eventuality by serving closer to home for a while. There are a lot of needs here in the US and if she volunteers at several places locally she might get a taste of what her purpose overseas might be later on.

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One of my friends is a really, really good commercial plumber, mostly for new construction. He spends 3 months a year as a missionary in Africa-working for 9 months in the USA pays the expenses so he can afford to self-fund his mission trips and bring supplies. He's been able to train a lot of local workers, too. Any of the practical vocational skills are needed, so that is an option for kids who don't feel called to serve in one of the more traditional mission roles.

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I am agreeing with others. I was overseas in my 20s as a missionary. She needs some type of skill. 

I did know a teen girl who did short term work in orphanages. Perhaps she could do a few short term stints. Something like a YWAM discipleship training session might be good, too.  They include internships. There might be one she is interested in. That would allow her to have experience and see what types of skills she might need. Honestly the only missionaries I knew who didn't have college degrees were the construction crews.  

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There are some missions that are about getting people trained for very specific work fast and getting people right on the field. Other mission organizations want college/seminary and things like that. Ethnos 360 (formerly New Tribes) is an organization that tends to train themselves and they don't care about college. Don't get me wrong--they have programs for all kinds of people as support staff, but their main focus is getting people through Bible School as a foundation for missions, and then they give specialized training to get people out into a very remote area (usually) and train them to live primitively while learning a language that has never been written down. It's very specialized, but they take people into their schools right out of high school and give them specialized training. It's an all eggs in one basket kind of thing.

I know people who thought they'd be in ministry or missions, prepared for it, and ended up having to go back to school or have to use a "useless" (theological) degree to get a decent job and work their way into a much better paying job through self-education. I know people who went the same track and are absolutely doing ministry and don't regret a day of it. And lots of people in between--rural pastors (and their wives if you are not in a denomination that ordains women) are often bi-vocational, and it behooves them to have a variety of training or skills, whether they be vocational or college degrees. I know people who are very down on pre-seminary degrees, for instance. They see pre-seminary programs as basically a holding tank for young people who are still too immature to enter ministry without being a know-it-all, lol! Rather than getting a dead-end degree that you will nearly repeat at a deeper level in seminary, they strongly recommend getting a real bachelor's degree in something practical, take a few classes that will get a seminary interested, and then have a useful skill in addition to seminary training later (and I think that "real world" work makes a missionary/minister a more well-rounded and relatable person, honestly).

I think educating herself on the options available with different kinds of training would be a good idea, but if she's really got a call to "get on the field fast" mission work--it's crucially important to see if that's feasible for her and to make connections with organizations that have a reputation for making the most of those kinds of situations.

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Have you looked at what mission agencies she might be interested in?  Different mission agencies send out specialists in different areas.  Medical missions will of course require medical degrees.  Church planting will require Bible training.  Mission schools - teaching.  I think you can see where I'm going here.  I don't want to be discouraging but working in an orphanage is more than just liking kids and wanting to interact with them.  Most missions want to send more qualified people from the US while looking to supplement care with local people who might not have the same level of education. 

 

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I would suggest that they get a concrete skill, such as in the medical field, or carpentry.  A good friend of mine has a dd who became a midwife!  People I know who have a strong desire to become missionaries but don't really have any concrete skills seem to eventually return to the U.S. (sometimes after many wonderful years) and feel lost.  

 

 

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On 10/13/2018 at 9:23 PM, Jean in Newcastle said:

Have you looked at what mission agencies she might be interested in?  Different mission agencies send out specialists in different areas.  Medical missions will of course require medical degrees.  Church planting will require Bible training.  Mission schools - teaching.  I think you can see where I'm going here.  I don't want to be discouraging but working in an orphanage is more than just liking kids and wanting to interact with them.  Most missions want to send more qualified people from the US while looking to supplement care with local people who might not have the same level of education. 

 

I agree! We are missionaries and have graduated and launched two daughters from the mission field. One returned to the states to attend university to earn her degree in education, and my middle would like to remain in the mission field. She isn't sure where she will go or how she will serve, but she is currently attending a Bible college in Hungary where she did a one-year missions program. She recently decided to continue her studies to earn her degree in theology. She has a heart for MK's and supporting church planters in the field. She's learned that having a degree can help open up opportunities to enter certain countries, and to work/serve at international Christian schools, teaching English, etc.  

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No advice, but dd16 has decided to try for nursing school, so she can specifically work in the mission field overseas.  We were asking around (most of my family members are either nurses or doctors) and there are lots of opportunities for that after they have some work experience (not right away after graduation).  There are specific organizations for medical professionals (like Doctors without Borders), but there are also hospitals in the US that send medical teams from their staff overseas temporarily for specific missions.

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On 10/11/2018 at 10:27 AM, charlotteb said:

...She originally thought that she might be a teacher for impoverished children there.  However, she is not finding that teaching is not her calling after taking a intro to education class in college...  She now feels that the college route may not be best for her, as she said it just doesn't feel right.


I'll just point out that a college course *about* education is not al all the same thing as actually *teaching children*. I've heard repeatedly from friends who teach in public or private schools that the college courses in education they took in order to get a degree in teaching are not at all like the reality of actual teaching.

So before entirely crossing teaching off her list of possible careers, I'd suggest that DD actually volunteer in several different classroom settings (different ages, different socio-economic areas). Or oversee a local homeschool co-op class for pre-schoolers, kinder, or elementary age children. Or try out doing some tutoring, esp. with elementary-aged children who are really struggling to learn to read or learn basic math. All of those would be much closer to the reality of teaching or tutoring done in an orphanage or in a school of a third-world country, to see if that is something she would actually like. And if she finds she really does love actual teaching, that might be enough to help her grit her teeth and get through the process of getting a college degree.

Just a thought! BEST wishes to DD as she researches and prays about her future! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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You've gotten some great advice here. I just wanted to mention a couple of resources.

As someone else said, it would be a good idea to try to narrow down what missions organisation she would like to work with. The book Mission Handbook: U.S. and Canadian Protestant Ministries Overseas is a fairly comprehensive list of organisations with lists of which are active in each country and a short description of each. There is a page and a half of organisations listed which are active in Tanzania. Once she narrows down the organisation, she can try to figure out in what way she wants to serve, and this will guide her educational choices.

I would highly recommend Global Mission Handbook: A Guide for Crosscultural Service by Steve Hoke and Bill Taylor. This is a collection of articles designed to guide a prospective missionary in their journey toward service. The sections on "Discovering Your Ministry Identity in the Body of Christ" and "Ministry Role and Assignment Search" could help your daughter to discover her ministry gifting. The book also has some worksheets to work through.

Another good book is Life and Work on the Mission Field by J. Herbert Kane. Though it's relatively old (1980), part three gives a good description of the different fields of missionary work.

I've been serving as a missionary for years and, as a result of seeing many people leave the field after only a brief service, began to gather information about resources for missionaries in the hope of helping them be better prepared so they can stay on the field long-term and build a website for all the resources. You can find the section on missions preparation at https://www.calvarymrc.com/missions-preparation.

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  • 4 months later...

Hi everyone,

Thanks again for the advice in October.  I wanted to provide an update.  DD has applied to be an intern at a children's home in Mexico (closer to home) and has been accepted!  It will be from the end of May this year to end of November.  This will be a great way for her to see how full-time mission work might be for her future.  She also plans to use the time to think about if she will continue college, and if so- in what field.  She is so excited to be doing the internship, and I am excited for her too! 

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