Five reasons why it’s good to go overseas with a mission agency

“Can I use my profession to serve Jesus in Asia?” a young student asked.

“Absolutely,” I said. “For most of Asia – about 80% – it’s necessary to have some sort of profession to be able to secure a visa.”

I wondered where the conversation might go, then she asked, “Is it OK to minister in Asia without going through an agency? I would rather use my profession than raise support.”

I sensed that underlying her question was, “Why bother going through a mission agency?”

  • Have you ever thought… “Since Jesus said, ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few’ – why doesn’t God want me to get out there as quickly as possible?”
  • “Support raising is so hard unless your friends are rich, and anyway, isn’t it best to go as a ‘tentmaker’ like Paul?”
  • “Can’t I just be accountable to my sending church who know me well – why bother with strangers in a mission agency?”

Here are the top 5 reasons why you shouldn’t do mission alone:

1. Strong, ongoing networked prayer support

This should be the number one reason you join an agency! Jesus’ early words to His disciples concerning mission were: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

A good agency will insist on your prayer support as much as they encourage your financial support and will provide a network of prayer supporters who will take an active interest in your ministry.

So, when you have experienced the love and prayers of retired missionaries from the same agency who have been along the road before you—and when you have heard their prayerful sincerity, passion and wisdom—you’ll want these faithful saints praying for you as well!

2. Member care and ongoing training

About 20 years ago, a large survey was conducted (called Reducing Missionary Attrition Project – ReMAP) on why missionaries leave the field. What they found was that one of the key reasons was simply because they retired!

Also high up on the list were:

  • Inadequate commitment
  • Immature spiritual life
  • Poor cultural adaptation
  • Inadequate training

As a result of the survey, many agencies have changed the way that they care for, train and prepare missionaries throughout their ministry lives. In other words, the missionaries who do well over a long period of time are those who are well cared for by their agencies.

In addition to training, a good mission agency will provide:

  • field care through ongoing cultural-awareness training
  • access to effective language learning so you can minister to the heart of the people you are serving
  • a ministry context where you will thrive and be fruitful
  • greater knowledge of the overall region where you are serving
  • passionate advocacy and prayer for your area of ministry
  • effective crises response, pivoting during the unexpected=
  • ongoing medical and counselling services for illness, burnout and mental health

And when things go wrong within your team, or conflict with local people arises, a good agency can help you resolve the conflict.

3. Mission knowledge and strategy

It takes years of prayerful ministry to an unreached people group before they respond to the gospel, grow as disciples of Jesus, and begin to reach out to others. A good agency will have a strategy for evangelism and discipleship, often in collaboration with a local or national church.

Think for a moment about the issues which an agency must consider:

  • Which people group is the least unreached?
  • Are there national churches who can assist?
  • What is the most effective way of presenting the gospel?
  • How do we ensure ongoing effective discipleship?
  • How do we train up the national leaders for ministry?
  • Who takes care of the ministry when we need to leave the country?

These, and other complex issues, are all part of an agency’s strategy for reaching a particular people group and need spiritual wisdom and prayerful consideration. Agencies can also advise you on the various options you can take to work or start a business in a particular country.

4. Accountability

Paul said, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5). He didn’t minister alone. He took along others and reported back to his sending churches.

Missionaries are accountable – to our sending church (even if it does not financially support us), to fellow mission workers, to local Christians.

Good mission agencies have a vision for the long-term – they aim for a flourishing long-term gospel ministry that transforms lives. They’re accountable to every worker who is part of the agency—to equip and encourage you to thrive.

And because they’re accountable, they will do all they can to ensure that you are adequately prepared and trained – especially in language learning and cultural adaptation – so that you are able to proclaim the gospel effectively.

5. Financial integrity

One of the chief roles of a good mission agency is processing the finances that come in to support you. They will help you plan your budget and factor in things such as insurance, medical costs and superannuation.

But more importantly, your agency will be responsible for handling your money with integrity and keeping up with Australian financial laws, such as compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (an important legal consideration when sending support money overseas).

And for me personally, I was so glad that OMF took care of all of the paperwork I needed to stay in the country – especially when my language was in the beginning very immature!

If you want to chat more, please get in touch via email

© 2024 Nic Crook, Queensland State Ministry Leader, OMF International

Picture of Written by Nic Crook, Queensland State Ministry Leader, OMF International
Written by Nic Crook, Queensland State Ministry Leader, OMF International

Nic has been State leader since 2017 having ministered as a church planter with OMF for 8 years in northern Japan. Nic loves engaging young adults and challenging them to consider, “What is the gospel?” and our responsibility in this generation, to take it to the ‘ends of the earth.’

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