Funding Missions

8 Ways Missionaries Make Money Overseas

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Written by McKenna Von Gunten

You may be asking the question, how do missionaries make money on the mission field?

One of the toughest mountains missionaries face is finances. Many people are overwhelmed by the huge amount of money that they have to raise to support themselves and their family and their ministry while living in another country. Others question if having a job overseas will affect their ministry time and if all their time and energy will be spent in the workplace.

You’re not alone in your questions. In this blog, we’ve put together eight ways of how missionaries make money overseas that is relevant to today.

1. Fundraising

Many missionaries are familiar with the term fundraising or raising support. This strategy has been used for several decades and many organizations and short-term mission trips are still using it today. While many techniques have proved successful, people dislike asking their friends and church family for money. However, it isn’t wrong to ask for money when wanting to be equipped to go overseas to bring the Kingdom of God to the unreached. Read more on fundraising.

glass jar on wooden surface

2. Partnership Development

While fundraising focuses more on sending newsletters and getting one time donations, Partnership Development seeks to build and nurture relationships with people who are willing to partner with the long-term vision of seeing every tribe, tongue, and nation be reached with the gospel.

Often times with fundraising, you never know who is going to support you. Instead, with Partnership Development, you have a very organized and strategic approach of telling people your story, getting them on board with what God is doing in the world, and following up with them on how they can be a part of it. It all comes down to stewardship.

Students at BGU go through a required course in the second semester of their sophomore year to get hands-on experience with Partnership Development and to raise support for their sixteen-month Global Internship. This method has proved to be highly successful and more and more missionaries are being launched into the mission field fully funded. 

Read more about what Partnership Development is and why it is putting an end to traditional fundraising in our blog post here.

3. Business As Mission

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to approach a person and enter into a long conversation about Jesus in an overcrowded city? Everyone is either busy going to work, at work, or going home from work. Missionaries are recognizing that one of the largest growing missions strategies of today is starting a business in a foreign country. As an entrepreneur, you are not only transforming the economy by providing local jobs, but you’re able to let the light of Christ shine through your work and transform lives in the community spiritually.

Business as Mission (BAM), is one of the most effective ways missionaries are able to make money while reaching the unreached. The world is in need of mission-minded businessmen and women who provide excellent quality-service that reflects Biblical principles while making an eternal impact for the Kingdom through their work.

For more on Business as Mission strategies, read our blog on how entrepreneurship can open up doors for the gospel.

How Do Missionaries Make Money

4. Take Career Overseas

What if you could take your current job and make a difference in another country? Do you have experience in nursing, dentistry, engineering, computer programing, cooking, or in sewing? Not only will it provide financial stability for you and your family as missionaries and give you a reason for living in a country that is closed to the gospel, but you could be working side by side with people who may have never heard of the name of Jesus.

The mission field is in need of missionaries like you who are willing to let God use them through their career to reach the unreached people groups of the world. Ministry opportunities will be arriving on your doorstep in ways some missionaries have only dreamed about.

If you’re curious about what degrees could be turned into a career, read our blog on missionary degrees.

How Do Missionaries Make Money

5. Teaching English

English is one of the most recognized languages in the world and missionaries who are passionate about educating the younger generation would do well to become English teachers in a foreign country. As an English teacher, not only will your paycheck help sustain you overseas, but you have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the community by raising up a generation of leaders who could change the world by bringing the transformation of the gospel into their lives through the way that you live and teach. You can read more about the benefits of teaching English here.

How Do Missionaries Make Money

6. Freelancing While Living Overseas

What if you have a previous degree or experience in marketing or graphic design? You could be earning your paycheck abroad while developing content for apps, inventing a new house design, becoming a private consultant for a worldwide company, or a website developer for a small business owner. People are in need of freelancers who have acquired the knowledge and skill to see small details and have an eye for design.

What are you good at that could make money and free up your time to invest in the people you care about? If you’re interested in freelancing, check out this website.

How Do Missionaries Make Money

7. Working Remotely for an American Employer While on the Mission Field

Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google employ people from all over the world to work for them. Technology is developing quicker than it did two years ago and is constantly changing. While some employers may require previous experience or a four-year degree, missionaries can now work remotely on the other side of the world for an American Employer while participating in full-time ministry.

This is a great opportunity for Christians to get involved in the world of technology and use its benefits for fulfilling the Great Commission.

How Do Missionaries Make Money

8. Living Off of Investments

As a missionary already on the field or in training, it’s a good idea to start planning ahead. While God is still in control of your financial situations, He also created you with a mind to prepare for the work He has called you to and having given you discernment to use in making wise decisions. Begin learning how to live simply and invest into the future by putting your money in a savings account. Make it a habit to ask yourself, is this something I could live without?

While a missionary’s goal is never to retire from making disciples, learning how to live on a budget now is good advice for those who plan to go overseas long-term. In the future, you’ll be grateful that you decided to save and plan ahead. Read more about missionaries saving for retirement.

BONUS: Mix and Match

A hybrid of the list above could be using both fundraising and teaching English as a way to support yourself in ministry. Or, you could freelance and earn money while starting up your own company. Or, yet another option is saving more than twenty percent of your paycheck while you are employed by an American employer in a well-known company.

Having a job while engaging in full-time ministry in another country isn’t without its challenges, but the opportunities are endless and these are just a few ideas of how missionaries make money overseas.

While making money is not the end result of missions, we still live in a real world that demands a price. However, there is a far greater reward when you use the tools God has placed in your hands to fulfill the calling He’s placed on your life for His glory.

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