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4 Barriers to Global Missions

By Chelsea Rollman, Nov 15, 2022

Do you feel God tugging you toward missions but also worry as you think about becoming a missionary? You are not alone. Many Christians express concerns when considering a career in missions.

Here are four common barriers to the mission field and some biblical ways to think through them.

1. Unsure If You Are Called

Even if you feel a pull toward missions, how can you really know if that is God’s plan for your life? While there is no specified discernment process, certain steps can provide clarity and lead to confirmation about your call.

First, educate yourself. Read missionary biographies, learn about different cultures, study new languages, and explore missions organizations’ resources.

Speak to those around you. Your family, friends, pastor, church leaders, or former missionaries in your community can offer helpful insight regarding your fit for missions. Talking to your church is an important step in the discernment process. If God is calling you to missions, you will need your church to walk with you. MTW mobilizers are also available to discuss options and help you think through what’s next.

Visit the field. This is another an important piece of the discernment process if you’re considering serving longer-term. A trip to the field allows you to experience life as a missionary firsthand. You’ll get a better idea of the specific work happening and the chance to connect with the local churches and people.

Guard against waiting for 100% certainty. Educating yourself, visiting the field, and speaking to others can provide clarity on God’s calling, but it is unlikely all your doubt will disappear. We know the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations is biblical. Don’t look for a more specific answer than the one God provides. At some point you must decide and walk by faith.

2. Fear of the Cost

Support-raising can feel like a daunting task. It forces you to give up control of your circumstances, admit your dependence on God, and humble yourself to ask others for help. None of which comes easy to sinners.

Often fear of the cost is less about the finances and more about the heart attitude. Shift your mindset. Instead of looking at support-raising as an obstacle, view it as an opportunity to exercise your faith. You’ll move from anxiously worrying about money to peacefully trusting and rejoicing in God’s provision. Approaching others for financial support becomes a privilege when you realize you are asking them to join the mission. You are blessing them with an opportunity to participate in God’s kingdom work.

Support raising will also prepare you for some of the challenges you will face as a missionary. The ways God strengthens your faith and teaches you to trust Him for results during support raising will equip you for the uncertain moments you will experience on the field.

Remember this is God’s mission. Jesus is the one who commissions His people and promises to be with you as you go. God desires His people to take the message of the gospel to different nations, so you don’t have to worry about getting there. He always provides for those He calls.

3. Family Resistance

Maybe you expressed interest in becoming a missionary and your parents, grandparents, or siblings pushed back. Navigating family resistance takes patience and grace. Listen and empathize with their concerns. Lovingly communicate your vision for going and pray God would change their hearts and calm their fears. Ask that He would provide everyone with the strength to make sacrifices for the sake of the kingdom. Of course there might be conditions where a delay could be wise—caring for an elderly parent for example—but always be careful to listen first to God.

God could be leading you to the mission field despite family concerns. In his article “When Your Extended Family Doesn’t Support Your Call to Missions,” former MTW missionary and West Coast Hub Director Mike Pettengill puts it this way: “When put in a place to choose God or family, a disciple of Christ must always select the Creator of the Universe. Yes, it is hard when family forces Christians to make such decisions. But, our relationship with the ones who gave us biological life can never supersede our obedience to the one who gives us eternal life.

4. Saying Goodbye to the U.S. (or Home)

Becoming a missionary means leaving a familiar place for a foreign one. While it can be exciting to experience life in a different culture, it is also difficult to say goodbye to family, friends, and your home.

How do you say goodbye and just go?

Ask God to make Christ and His kingdom your primary joy. If you worship God and desire the spread of His kingdom above all else, then leaving your comfort zone to serve Him through global missions will become easier.

Strive to focus on heaven and eternity. Remember that this world is not your true home and Christ secured an eternal inheritance for His people on the cross. The more you set your gaze on Jesus and your heavenly reward, by His grace the easier it will become to surrender your life to service in God’s kingdom.

Saying goodbye is never easy and it should be taken seriously. MTW mobilizers can provide resources for doing this well.

Wrestling with any of these concerns is normal when considering a career in missions. But don’t let doubt or fear stop you from exploring your call. Bathe everything in prayer and ask God to establish your steps. Keep in mind that God calls all His people to engage in global missions. As MTW Coordinator Lloyd Kim said, “... as disciples of The Christ, either God has called us to send and mobilize, or quite honestly, He’s called us to go.”

Explore your call to missions. Browse opportunities at mtw.org/serve or fill out a Get Started form and a mobilizer will be in touch to talk with you further.

Chelsea Rollman

Chelsea Rollman is a marketing specialist and staff writer at MTW. She formerly served as the girls’ discipleship coordinator at Village Seven in Colorado Springs, and as a marketing assistant at The White Horse Inn. Chelsea graduated from Covenant College in 2016 with her B.A. in English. She and her husband, Hudson, live in Jacksonville, Florida, and attend Christ Church Presbyterian where Hudson serves as the youth director.

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