Serve Asia offers a variety of opportunities to serve the Lord. One participant has even leveraged her accounting skills to serve amongst an unreached people group on multiple occasions.
An Accountant on the Mission Field
Working as a Chartered Accountant in public practice in New Zealand, Karen* might not seem to fit the mold of the average Serve Asia worker. Serve Asia, OMF’s short-term missions program, offers a variety of opportunities to Christians interested in working overseas for a year or less.
But, as Karen learned, Serve Asia opportunities range from “normal” activities, such as student ministry and English teaching, to less common possibilities such as using one’s accounting skills to help a fledgling missional business in East Asia. Karen first heard about the opportunity while attending a missional business workshop.
“It gave me a different perspective on mission, but was also a pivotal moment for me when I realized that I could use my vocation in this way,” she said. “I have since been an avid advocate for people from all different backgrounds to use their vocation for missions – even if it’s not a career that is traditionally associated with missions.”
Missional businesses serve a vital role in blessing local communities and representing Christ’s kingdom in areas where traditional missionary work might not be possible. Like any business, it needs good accounting practices to survive. That is where Karen came in. She has now made three Serve Asia trips to help a missional business in Southeast Asia.
Using the Gifts God Gave Her
On the first placement, she set up the accounting system, implemented the software, documented the accounting processes and procedures, provided training, prepared financial reports, integrated the accounting software with a point of sales system (thus ensuring that inventory was being accounted for correctly) and helped implement barcodes for the products of the business. Subsequent placements have focused on ensuring business compliance with local tax and company law. Her days are long, but it’s worth it, she says.
“Every time I come back from a trip, it refocuses me on what is really important in life. I think each time I come back, I see the world a little more through Christ’s perspective, rather than my own.”
Like many cross-cultural workers (long and short-term), one of the greatest challenges Karen faces for each placement is raising the necessary financial support. Thankfully, God has provided every time. She also struggles with whether she should leave her life in New Zealand, where she offers tax and business advice to small and medium-sized businesses, and join the work of the missional business long-term.
“I have a renewed enthusiasm for overseas mission when I come back from [the Serve Asia placement], and it definitely triggers another serious check in with God on whether I am still in the place he wants me to be.”
For now, she remains in New Zealand, but she hopes to encourage others to discover their calling, no matter where it might lead. As Paul said in Acts 20:24, “’My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord.’”
*Name has been changed.