Preparing For Missionary Work Pt.2


I go out as a missionary not that I may follow the dictates of common sense, but that I may obey that command of Christ.

James Gilmour

There are many things one should be, not just do, to prepare for missions. Most pertain to the life of a healthy church. One should not simply leave and “do” missions because they feel like they are supposed to or feel that is what God wants them to do. God’s design is for His foreign embassies to be holy, active members of His body, equipped to preach The Gospel faithfully. That being said, there are things to do to be prepared for foreign mission work.

I do not remember exactly when it first really set in for me. It was probably on one of the international mission trips I took in high school. But at some point, the thought hit me, “This is what I want to spend my life doing.” Quite a noble aspiration, right? I was filled with passion at the time, yet I was just as empty of vital knowledge. I have learned some practical things along the way that I would like to pass on to others.

Start Prayerfully Researching

There are still many unreached and unengaged people groups in our world that need outside missional help. Not all of them are third-world countries. My family is going to Japan, a very first-world country that has the same percentage of Christians as Uzbekistan. Interestingly enough, the state of Utah shares similar statistics.

But contrary to what many think, God does not call all Christians as individuals to go to all of these places. God does not even send all individual missionaries to all of these places equally. God gifts His children differently. Not all are gifted for Japan. Not all are gifted for Sudan. Begin examining the fields now and learn where help is needed and where you may be a good fit.

Read Missions Books

By this, I do not primarily mean books on the idea of missions or missiology. There can be great benefits to reading these, both from learning good and not-so-good ways to think about missions. But I am speaking mainly of missionary biographies.

While older biographies will not be able to give much practical knowledge on mission strategy in our globalized, modern world, they do have much to offer. Even better than modern strategies, these missionary biographies give us inspiration and models for us missionary lives of prayer and faithful obedience. They paint for us pictures of God’s glory in mightily saving peoples for his name.

Talk to Other Missionaries

This makes up for what missionary biographies lack. In the same way, Paul instructed his young men to conduct themselves in the ministry the way he taught them to (Titus 1:9), it would be good for young missionaries to find their Pauls out there and start asking questions.

There is much wisdom to be found in a good mentor, and even better if that mentor is a missionary in the country in which you are interested. They are twenty-six steps ahead of you. They have traveled that road and learned quite a bit along the way. If you want to do missions in the Pacific, for example, find ways to get in touch with missionaries in one of those island countries and start asking questions. I can think of no better way to learn.

Take a Trip

I will never forget how one of the men in my dorm at college announced that God had just spontaneously called him to be a missionary to Mongolia. What he meant by this was that he felt an impression to go and be a missionary to Mongolia. But he spoke with such certainty.

I sat there a bit confused, wondering how on earth one could instantly know such a thing. He had never been to Mongolia. He had not even met someone who had been to Mongolia. He did not know anything about the Mongolian language or culture. What if he did not like Mongolian food when he arrived? What if his future wife did not like the cold?

My guess is that he heard of the undeniable need in Mongolia and volunteered. What a noble and honorable intention! But he may have been wise to take a three-week trip to Mongolia first before announcing his divine summons to move there.

I would recommend the same to anyone today. I am already a fan of churches taking strategic mission trips to foreign fields. But if your church does not do that, you still can. Save money, get in touch with some missionaries, organize a plan and run your intentions past your elders, and buy plane tickets.

Utilize Good Missions Agencies

The key here is “good.” Not all missions or evangelism agencies are created equal. Find one that aids the relationship with your local church instead of replacing the local church.

Though we are not officially partnered with an agency at this point in our journey, we have benefited from a few along the way. In fact, connecting with a good agency can help with all four of the other points listed above.

Good mission agencies have a lot of free information about the state of modern missions in our modern world. They have done much of the research for you. They also provide resources and recommendations on mission literature as well as modern mission stories. They can put you in touch with missionaries to the country in which you are interested. Many of them host or facilitate mission trip opportunities.

Find a good missions agency that complements the pastors in your local church and get connected. More likely than not, you will end up partnering with one to some extent in the future.

There is one more idea to consider, seeing how our world is increasingly globalized: What is the nearest big city to where you live now, and who are the unreached people groups there? You might be surprised to learn how many groups have migrated to your area in only the last ten years.

Our world is changing. In some ways, the lost world is coming to us. But there are still those who we must reach.

For further reading
The Missionary Fellowship of William Carey by Michael Haykin
Hudson Taylor By Mary Taylor
Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global by Andy Johnson
Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper
Joseph Pliska

Joseph Pliska

Joseph Pliska is a church-planting missionary to Tokyo, Japan. He was ordained and sent out of Landmark Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. He is a husband to Sierah and father of a beautiful baby girl. He has a masters from Southern Seminary and records and produces Christian audiobooks on the side when not studying Japanese. Joe and his team in Japan have a heart to plant Baptist churches in urban Japan, led by mature and qualified men with the heart and training to evangelize and disciple others.

February 29, 2024

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