How do you become a missionary? It’s simple. Find a perfect Christian organization. Apply with said perfect organization. Raise all your support as quickly as possible. Move to a remote village overseas, convert thousands, and die a saint.
I’m joking, obviously. Having a father who has worked as a missionary since I was in middle school has taught me that a life in missions never goes so perfectly; it’s usually easier to just expect nothing to go exactly to plan. So what does it actually mean to be a missionary?
This summer, Jonathan Long and I embarked on Missions 101— I shadowed in meetings, met with supporters, and learned what a field missionary actually does every day (spoiler alert: it’s literally never the same). After years trying to avoid following exactly in my father’s footsteps, I decided that I needed to explore the call I was feeling towards missions. I needed to know if I was actually cut out to live as an overseas missionary. Luckily for me, I left Hungary at the end of the summer feeling extremely positive about missions. That’s not to say it was easy. I hit higher highs and lower lows in one summer than I had experienced in years, but when I was able to reflect after each week, the overwhelming feeling was confidence in the path I was on.
Then came the fall. Jonathan and I made grand plans to develop a sort of missions ROTC program together— something to prepare college students who plan on joining the mission field after they graduate. In theory, there would be discipleship, language learning, and more Missions 101 style activities. Mostly, though, there is just a time of waiting. I am generally not the most patient person, so this is where I have found the most struggle. There is the time of processing to make sure I know for certain I want to apply. Applications take time. Interviewing takes time. Fundraising takes time. Finishing school takes time. All the waiting can feel unending and disheartening.
This doesn’t mean I get to sit and mope and wait impatiently for the months to pass. If I feel called to missions after I graduate, then why wouldn’t I also be called to missions now? If there is one thing I have learned with my father as a homeland missionary, it’s that people in Iowa need to know Jesus just as much as people in Hungary do. I live on a college campus, which means I have access to 1,500 people every day who might not have ever been exposed to Jesus’ love before. This semester, I’ve been involved on the campus ministries leadership team, which has allowed me to intentionally love others on campus and exposed me to people I never would have interacted with otherwise. I’ve also been helping on the worship team a few evenings each month at the Sunday evening service on campus. These groups have been an amazing way to be involved in missions where I am as long as I am called to be here.
Being a missionary isn’t complicated. It doesn’t require a certain degree or certification. There isn’t a special club you have to join. Being a missionary just means intentionally spreading Jesus to unreached people. Luckily for all of us, unreached people are everywhere. For most people, you wouldn’t even have to leave your hometown.
So, how do you become a missionary? It’s simple. You just be one.
“And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”[Mark 16:15]
– By Ashley Heubner, OMS Hungary Intern