As a mobilizer for Reaching & Teaching, I often hear missionaries talk about their need for more workers who are also healthy church members. One surprising demographic that fits this need, especially for English-speaking churches overseas, is students.
For those attending CrossCon this year—and, really, for anyone pursuing undergraduate or graduate work—let me encourage you to consider leveraging your education for the sake of the nations. In other words, here are five reasons to pursue a degree while helping a healthy church in a foreign country:
1. Globalization is a reality.
Technology both informs us about the world and connects us to the world. So why not take advantage of the ease of travel and education opportunities to get your degree in a different country? Who knows, one day it may be beneficial to have an international school on your resume—and it might also be more affordable.
2. You’re not ready to be a missionary—yet.
If you’re still in school, then you’re likely still in the preparation process to be sent out as a missionary. You’re cultivating life skills, solidifying your biblical convictions, and growing in spiritual maturity. This time could also be used to prepare you for life abroad.
3. You’ll have a valid identity.
One of the most complicated aspects of moving overseas as a missionary often comes down to a visa. Many countries don’t want Westerners moving there easily. Even when a visa is secured, a “reason for being” that makes sense can be challenging to verify. But no one will question a student. Just keep this in mind: if your identity is a “student,” then you want to be the best student you can be. Model for your classmates what diligence and hard work look like—and use that as a means to explain how transformative the gospel is.
4. Local churches around the world need healthy church members like you.
Anyone who has ever been near a church plant or revitalization knows that it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. You can’t create disciple-making, gospel-sharing, hospitality-loving, community-building church members overnight. But it’s infinitely more helpful when church members set an example by owning the privilege and responsibility of church membership. Who knows the kind of impact you could have simply by showing up to church events and activities? Other simple ways to serve include praying for church members, meeting up to read the Bible with others, and inviting church members to join you in campus outreach and evangelism.
5. You can grow in your love for the nations and for the church.
Perhaps the easiest way to develop a heart for that nations is to surround yourself by the nations. If you live overseas for a few years, then you’ll no doubt grow in compassion and cultural awareness. You’ll recognize how it may feel when you don’t understand why school is cancelled for a certain holiday, or what cultural reference was the punchline of a joke. But that’s not all. If you link arms with a healthy church abroad, then you’ll grow in your love for the bride of Christ wherever she may be found.
Just like anything else we say at Reaching & Teaching, we encourage you to talk with your wise friends and pastors before making a decision. Don’t make this decision apart from good counsel.
If you’re interested in learning more about particular opportunities to leverage your degree in an international context, reach out to [email protected].
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