Is God calling you to serve him overseas in 2016?
Team Leader for Programmes Graeme Riddell explores what calling is and how BMS could help if you are being called
Imagine waking abruptly in the night following a dream of a man asking you to come and help. You respond immediately by getting up and packing your bags, knowing that God is asking you to go and preach the gospel to this man and his people group. If this kind of thing happens to you regularly then your name might be Paul and you are about to embark on a tour of the best package holiday destinations the Mediterranean can offer.
The Apostle Paul’s dramatic calling to Macedonia in Acts 16 is one that some people mistakenly point to as the benchmark of an authentic call to mission service.
“Have you heard the voice of God?”
“Have you had a Macedonian experience?”
That God calls some people into overseas cross-cultural mission in the most dramatic of ways is certainly true.
However, for the majority of people the process is far less dramatic and often involves a growing sense of trying to work out where God would have them serve him (whilst not losing sight of living in the present and serving God in the here and now).
What is calling?
So what is calling? Whenever anyone asks the question, “Am I called to mission?”, then it is worth stopping and thinking how we might answer.
Our primary call as Christians comes at the point we put our faith in Jesus and it is to be his followers and disciples. And it is in placing all our ambitions, hopes and desires under his lordship that the way is paved to considering our secondary calling which is to glorify God with our gifts and talents, time and resources through the vocations we feel led to.
Working out this vocation can often lead to the mistake of thinking that to do God’s work involves entering full-time Christian ministry or going overseas as a mission worker.
Whisper it quietly, but that job in the office or classroom, factory or outdoors might be the very place God wants you to be and stay as a mission worker. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to travel to the ends of the world to care for your neighbour or to share the good news. In fact if you are not already doing this in your current work place it isn’t going to come any more naturally overseas.
A calling to overseas cross-cultural mission
But what if you have a sense or notion (indeed even a dramatic vision) that your secondary calling or vocation might be to serve in a cross-cultural mission context overseas. Here are some practical steps you could think about doing:
• Pray and ask God to help you interpret and act on the sense of call that is growing within you
• Speak with Christian friends, family and your church leadership – ask them to pray and discern with you
• Read and learn more about mission through biographies, books, blogs and prayer letters
• Go on a short-term trip – a BMS Insight team or volunteer placement might help you discern if this is something that God might be leading you to longer term
• Get involved in church or community ministries that enable cross-cultural interaction with people of other backgrounds and faiths
• If you feel led to a particular people group or place in the world, find out more about those places and people and start to pray for them
• Begin to find out if there are any languages you might need to learn, explore what skills you have that you could use overseas and whether you might need to do further training or gain more experience.
Can BMS help?
As well as praying and exploring individually, one of the other things you could do is make contact with BMS to have an initial conversation about what you feel God might be saying to you about serving him overseas. We love to meet with people with a heart for mission and through the process of exploring issues of faith and character, ‘calling’ and mission commitment, resilience and competency, to discern together if there might be a role where God could use you in mission service overseas with BMS.
What do you do?
1. Visit the Serve overseas pages. Read about the different programmes we have and the current opportunities we
are recruiting for.
2. Get in touch with us by phone (01235 517651), email
or fill in an initial contact form online:
What happens next?
1. We’ll ask you to fill in a simple form that tells us a bit about you, which will help us discern if your skills and background match up with any of our overseas partners’ needs.
2. There will be initial exploratory interviews where you can ask your questions and where we can find out more about you.
3. We will also speak with your sending church to enable them to contribute to the discernment process.
4. If together we feel that it is right to proceed AND we feel there is a role we can find for you to serve in we’ll take up references and medical clearance and for long termers there will be a final selection event.
5. If selected, you will then undertake a period of training at our International Mission Centre (IMC) to prepare you for your placement overseas.
This article is part of the winter 2015/16 issue of Engage.
Image by kevron2001/Fotolia
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission