Decoding Missions

“Has the Lord laid anything on your heart about going into missions full time?”

“Um, actually I already am in missions full time.”

“No, I mean going over to Africa full time.”

“Well, I am working full time for my organization that is working full time in Africa. I just do some of the work here.”

“Well, I mean, move over there.”

“Yes, eventually, that is a possibility. In the meantime…” and I went on to try to explain again what it is I actually do. Full time. In missions. For Africa. From America.

It’s a misconception battle many Christian missionaries face. In the modern world, not all missionaries are off for years at a time living and working in a foreign country. Many of them work in offices and homes in the country where they were born. They are busy raising funds, writing grants, channeling resources, strategizing, recruiting, researching, communicating, facilitating, proofreading, spread-sheet-ing, developing software, making phone calls, answering emails, texting, and generally carrying on the necessary administration for the work of sharing the good news of God’s love (by some means) to continue all over the world.

That, by the way, is our mission as Christians, which is why we call this kind of work "MISSIONS".

And they are REAL MISSIONARIES. They may live in a modern apartment or house and drive a car. They may shop at Walmart. Their kids may go to school and play soccer with your kids, or they may homeschool and be a part of your homeschool group. They may sit in the pew next to you at church, and bring casseroles to the church potluck. They might usher or teach children’s church. You might see them in the pulpit of your church, or you might not. They may be not even be in church every Sunday, not because they are backsliding (Christian lingo for falling off the wagon), but because they are speaking in another church.

But their job, their work, is MISSIONS. And chances are, that means they do not get a regular salary. It means they have to “raise their own support.” In blunter words, to ask other Christians to give them money to live on, so they can keep doing what they do.
It is part of our Christian responsibility, as laid out by Jesus. We are all told to “go into all the world and preach the gospel (remember that's the "good news of God's love") to every creature.” This responsibility has been labeled the “Great Commission”, probably because it is a commission and it is great.

But not everyone wants to go. So, in order to obey this final command of Jesus, some Christians opt to sub-contract the Great Commission, if you will, and give money to the people who want (“feel called”) to go. Or who feel called/want to work in the administration department of the Great Commission.
Some of these missionaries do live overseas. Others live next door. They may not being doing what you picture as traditional “missionary stuff.” Missionaries do a lot of stuff besides preaching. (They do that too.) But most, if not all of it, takes money. And that money has to be “raised.” That means “asked for” either directly or indirectly from other Christians, depending on the missionary’s organization, personal style, and philosophy.

If you are a Christian and you aren’t a full time missionary, that’s YOU.

You pay our salary. And we are your hands and feet as we go to the world with whatever it is we like to do and are able to do to share God’s love.

For some of my missionary friends, it’s Bible translation work. (That’s putting the Bible into a language it hasn’t been translated into yet, so people can read it for themselves and not just take other people’s word for what it says, ‘cause that leads to big problems, check out history, but I deviate. But by the way, it might also include first making a written language from those folks from scratch if there isn’t already one of those, and that includes teaching people to read it first, which makes them literate, and even if you don’t think the Bible is that important you probably think reading is, so you can see how this totally rocks.)

For other missionaries it’s teaching in schools, working in orphanages, trying to rescue girls kidnapped into sex trafficking, doing medical work in clinics, providing health education, feeding poor people, working with street kids, getting sponsors so underprivileged children can go to school, starting churches where there aren’t any (“church planting”), working politically and practically to help persecuted Christians (yes, they are, often, like, ostracized and beat up and put in prison and killed), or providing job training, building houses, or digging wells. For every one of these jobs, (which are all ways to spread the good news of God's love - the MISSION) there are one or many administrative office jobs backing them up.

And me? I’m trying to get a clinic open in Liberia where we can save the lives of women and children and offer them eternal life all at the same time. You want to help? No problem. I need midwives, nurses, doctors, as well as admin people to work on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

None of those things up your alley? It’s still no problem.

If you can’t deliver a baby, send a check. We’ll put it to good use. 


Hope that helps explain things.

Your missionary,

Romans 10:13-14 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach except they be sent?”


  1. This may sound strange, but I heart this post. My husband works full-time with a missions organization. Originally he planned to be gone 8 months of the year overseas, but God had other plans. Now he does computer work at the Canadian head office. We've had two churches drop our support because we aren't actually reaching people. It's been frustrating. This post struck a chord.


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