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Guide To Missionary Work Abroad: Examples & How To Go


Written by Shyann Swearingen

When I hear the word missionary I think of someone overseas who’s preaching the gospel, but missions is more than that. There are different ministry opportunities/jobs for missionaries abroad, so I wanted to dive deeper into what each one entails.

What are examples of missionary work abroad? Missionaries have many options when it comes to working abroad including medical ministry, friendship evangelism, working with children, homeless ministry, sports ministry, working with human trafficking victims, and coffee ministry.

This post will help you discover all the work opportunities for missionaries abroad, and how to get started with pursuing missions.

What Kind Of Missions Work Can I Do Abroad?

The main goal of a missionary is to fulfill the Great Commission. Missionaries can work towards completing the Great Commission in many ways. The primary way is through evangelism and spreading the gospel which can be accomplished through all forms of mission work.

Having another profession is beneficial for missionaries to get overseas because many countries no longer issue visas for missionaries. Countries will allow people who work as doctors, business professionals, and educators in.

I compiled this list to should the variety of missions work overseas with ministry and show that you can combine your passions with your calling.

1) Medical Ministry

Medical ministry is focused on bettering the health of others overseas through providing medical assistance. Modern-day medicine is not available in every country and neither are doctors or nurses.

In third world countries, healthcare is nonexistent.

There is a need for medical ministry overseas. It’s a perfect opportunity for nurses, doctors, midwives, and physical therapists to use their skills for God’s glory.

By leaving the U.S. to move overseas you’ll be able to save lives by providing the sick with what they need and sharing the gospel at the same time.

Though you may not directly share the gospel daily through medical ministry you are able to shine the light of Christ while being His hands and feet.

Example Of Medical Missions

The pioneer for medical missions was an American physician named Peter Parker. In 1834, he was invited to China to work in the medical field. By 1835, he helped over 2,000 patients in his hospital.

Medical Missions is one way to spread the Gospel while caring for people’s immediate health needs.

2) Friendship Evangelism

Friendship evangelism is becoming friends with the locals in the country you are placed in and then sharing the message of the gospel with them over time. Though the name for this ministry is newer, it has been around since 1950. It has continued to be an effective way to lead others to Christ.

In other countries, this is an effective way to evangelize because of the other beliefs that are in their culture.

If you have no pre-existing relationship with someone and you go up and say, “Hey did you know that there’s only one God who created everything?” and this person was Hindu the probability of them listening to what you say is very low.

However, if you got involved in activities with this person and took time to build a friendship, they would listen and care about what you say.

As you build friendships, it also reminds the missionary of how valuable people are and how great God’s love is for them.

Proverbs 27:9 talks about the beauty of friendships:

Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy,
for good friends are like the anointing oil
that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.

Proverbs 27:9

God designed us to be in community with each other, so we crave friendship.

Engaging in friendship evangelism doesn’t allow you only to share about our savior, but it also gives you the opportunity to love on someone who may feel unloved and provide them with companionship.

3) Working With Children

Children are so incredibly important to have in God’s kingdom. They have a beautiful faith, wonder, imagination, and excitement about even the tiniest things.

Children are future disciples, so we must show them Jesus’ love and raise them to be Christ-followers.

There are three primary ways of helping children overseas. Outreach in the local community, helping at an orphanage, and through education.

Many countries overseas have a high rate of orphans, but orphanages are usually low staffed and do not have many necessities for the children.

Doing orphanage work overseas gives the ability to love on children who may have never experienced that before, show them that they are loved by their heavenly father, offer consistency in their lives, and help provide them with daily necessities.

Education is also needed overseas. Whether you have a bachelor’s in education, a certification in TESOL, or just love working with kids you can go to work in a school overseas.

This provides children with the opportunity to receive a higher education and more of a chance to graduate, which is highly unlikely in many countries. Teaching while incorporating some English also provides students with the opportunity to learn English.

4) Homeless Ministry

Though there is a need for homeless ministry everywhere the need is even more urgent overseas. In countries like the Central African Republic, Haiti, and Ethiopia have a high rate of their population living in slums with limited access to water, food, and other necessities.

Homeless ministry involves outreach to those in need, providing food, helping them find jobs, and even building homes.

Working in a homeless ministry allows you to ignite light into a very dark time for many of the people you engage in ministry with. You seeing them as God’s creation and your brother/sister in Christ will help them to know that they are loved, and provide them with hope in Christ.

This ministry is life-changing and though you may not bring every person you engage with to Christ, you will still make a difference and help them be able to become stable on their own.

Caring for the homeless in the center of the parable of the good samaritan found in Luke 10:

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  

The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Luke 10:33-35

Jesus calls us to be like the good samaritan and being involved in homeless ministry allows us to put this calling into action.

5) Sports Ministry

Sports ministry is a way of combining sports and evangelism. You don’t need to be a professional athlete to work in sports ministry overseas, but should love sports since that’s what you’ll be doing daily. Sports, especially soccer, is a universal language that connects us to other cultures.

It’s also something that not every kid, teen, or adult has access too so they find joy in seeing a real soccer ball for the first time.

Sports ministry was created in the ’50s and has continued to thrive since. Each organization that specializes in sports ministry has its own way of doing so.

Some examples are having a team that plays sports for a crowd then doing evangelism after, by playing sports with kids in the country they are based, running a fitness center for the community that is supported by the church, or handing out videos that share professional athletes testimonies.

This ministry is an excellent opportunity for those who enjoy staying active and gives them an opportunity to work with people of all ages and even the chance to work with the disabled by trying to incorporate sports that are inclusive for them.

6) Working With Human Trafficking Victims

Human trafficking has increased within the past 10 years not only in the U.S. but also in foreign countries. This is one of the largest criminal enterprises and has spiked the social justice movement in ministries.

This type of mission work allows those who have a heart of social justice to be a part of this movement by giving them opportunities to prevent this from occurring and also counsel those who have already experienced this.

Working in the field of human trafficking can at times be dangerous, but most organizations offer safety training.

By working in this ministry you’ll be able to shine the light of our savior in a very dark spot and show those who have experienced this that they have a heavenly father who never left their side.

7) Coffee Ministry

Coffee Ministry is a form of mission work that allows you to mix business and missions. This form of mission work has spiked within the past 10 years and is a unique way to engage in evangelism.

In countries where Christianity is illegal or rarely spoken of coffee, ministry opens the doors to the gospel. It gives all who enter the coffee shop the opportunity to see Christ in the workers and have both themselves and their coffee cup filled.

Making good coffee and being personable are necessary skills to become a barista and are both skills that anyone can achieve with effort. This allows anyone who puts time into these skills the ability to get involved in coffee ministry.

Joining this ministry will help you grow in your coffee art skills while also being the hands and feet of Jesus.

How To Go On The Mission Field

There are two different directions you can choose from when pursuing missions: attending a missions college or getting connected with a missions agency. Depending on your current situation you could choose either option. Read each option below to discover which one is better for you.

1. Missions College

Missions colleges are a great way to gain hands-on experience and grow in your knowledge of God and His word. Some agencies and ministries also require you to have a bachelor’s degree before you can join their team, so I highly encourage you to explore this option.

Though it is not usually a requirement that you obtain a bachelor’s degree from a missions college, attending one allows you to go into the missions field with experience and a greater idea of all that is encompassed in missions.

When looking into colleges before the missions field you will find several different options varying from Christian colleges that have missions as a minor or electives for missions or ones that offer missions as a major.

To see a list of colleges and find the one that best fits you click here.

Before making a decision on a college take some time to pray and meditate on which one you are choosing, so that you are fully putting your future in God’s hands.

2. Connect With A Missions Agency

Though some missions agencies require that you have your bachelor’s degree before you enter the missions field, there are still quite a few out there that do not require a bachelor’s degree.

To get connected with an agency you can either connect with your head or missions pastor to see what connections your church has.

Doing this allows you to know that the organization is trustworthy and most likely has the same beliefs as you since they are connected to your church.

Another great way to get connected with a missions agency is through this website called Missions Next. This company connects aspiring missionaries to mission companies.

When you register on their website you complete a survey that they use to pair you with organizations that fit you best based on your responses.

You can also search on the site for short term trips so that you can get a taste of the missions field before becoming a missionary. You can search for specific companies and message them and set up phone calls as well.

Click here to check out their site.

Whichever way you decide to get started in the missions field trust your future is in your heavenly father and with your eyes on Him you will make His name known among the nations.

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