Missionary Life

What does it look like to serve God cross-culturally? Is it all about remote villages and lengthy church meetings? What kind of challenges do missionaries face? How do they keep going, sometimes for decades, in hard places? What can I pray about for them?

Take a look at these stories, videos and resources to find some answers and discover what missionary life is like today.

I thought that the goodbyes would get easier with time.

Missionaries lives are full of ‘goodbyes’ and ‘hellos’.  Goodbyes are hard – It’s hard to say goodbye to good friends. It’s hard to say goodbye to people you’ve walked with through the highs and lows with God. It’s hard to say goodbye to those you’ve seen come to know God. These goodbyes don’t get any easier with time and missionaries have to say goodbye more than most. Every four years brings goodbyes – either temporarily for home assignment, or for good if they move on to a new place. But transitions also bring the joy of meeting new people in new places and building new friendships, which helps when it comes to saying goodbye to old friends.
Pray for God to give missionaries the grace to deal well with all these transitions.

When missionaries first arrive in a new country it can feel like they’ll never fit in: they have to learn how to greet people, what to wear, even when and where they should (or shouldn’t) be wearing shoes. There is so much to learn, so many unwritten rules and everything is so different. But missionaries don’t remain outsiders forever. As they learn and get to know people, missionaries are welcomed into the community and become a valued part of it. One of our workers in Cambodia writes that her neighbors ‘treat me like a family member and I receive more from them than I can ever give in return.’ Missionaries become a real part of the community, humbly depending on others.

Home will always be home in some ways for missionaries, but for their children ‘where is home?’ can be a very difficult question to answer. In fact, their parents’ home country may be where they feel least at home. Having spent much of their lives overseas, they may not feel at all at home in the strange land their parents grew up in. This can be hard for missionaries, who would like their children to embrace and enjoy all their home country has to offer, but their children would prefer to be overseas. It can also be difficult when children grow up and go home for further study and struggle, while parents are far away unable to help.
Pray for missionaries as they struggle with and help their children with where they call home.
Pray for missionary children and parents to remember that their true citizenship is in heaven.

Missionaries are captivated by the goodness of the gospel. It’s what drives them to share Christ with those still yet to hear of him. But people have so many things competing for their attention that it can be hard to get them to listen. And if they do listen, they may not fully grasp what it means for them. So they miss the excitement of it.

This can be discouraging for missionaries. Pray for God to encourage them today and to work in their hearer’s hearts, so they too get excited by the gospel.

What does it look like to support a missionary? Sometimes it’s a hug, a bar of chocolate or prayer for a particular situation.
OMF missionaries have many stories of how their supporters have helped them in prayer and practically. It’s this kind of support that God uses to help keep missionaries going in what he’s called them to.

Give thanks for the many ways missionaries can be supported and for the relationships which are developed between supporter and worker when partnering together for Christ. Pray about how you could encourage any missionaries you know today.

Stories & Videos

The greatest cost of my missionary career? Returning home

My church home group were discussing the cost of being a Christian. Someone turned to me and asked about my experience. What had been the cost of going to Japan in short-term cross-cultural mission 43 years ago? Of joining OMF 32 years ago? Of spending my entire working life in a foreign culture?   ‘It was [...]

Where’s home? – Missionary Identity Part Three

The third and final part of our series of posts on missionary identity by OMF worker Wendy Marshall looks at how the notion of ‘home’ becomes difficult for missionaries. If you missed the other two parts, you can find part 1 and part 2 here. Where’s home? Most people’s identity is tied up with a particular place. We often [...]

Identity Crisis – Missionary Identity Part Two

‘You are what do you?’ Is that true? For missionaries, it can sometimes feel that way. The second in our series of posts on missionary identity looks at how missionaries can feel defined by their role and lose perspective. But Wendy, an OMF worker from Australia working in Japan, also looks at how supporters can [...]

Moving away from the missions front line

Dave and Fi Rickards worked for several years in OMF’s International Centre in Singapore to support missionaries across East Asia. We caught up with them to find out more about them, their work and why support-work matters just as much as ‘front-line’ church planting. How did you get involved in mission and later in support [...]

Singleness in missions: the good, the bad and the cookies

Reflecting on what it`s like being a single missionary, there’s obviously lots that could be said, but I want to focus on three aspects: the good, the bad, and the cookies. The Good and the Bad I`ll put these together because the good and bad points of being single are mostly tradeoffs compared to being [...]

‘You’re a what?!’ – Missionary identity part one

Simple questions like ‘where are you from?’ or even ‘what do you do?’ can be difficult for missionaries to answer. When you have lived overseas for several years, that can feel like ‘home’. Or people may not know what missionaries do. Missionaries’ identity can also become wrapped up in their Christian service rather than in [...]

A parent of a missionary asks: ‘What’s my part in God’s plan?’

When God called my son and his wife to long-term missions overseas I became a parent of a missionary which was both amazing and daunting. Amazing to think that my son would be used by God in this way. But also daunting as I wasn’t part of a missionary family. I had no experience of [...]

What about the grandchildren? Missionary life as a grandparent

There were times in my missionary career when I couldn't understand why fellow missionaries returned home for the sake of their children or grandchildren. However, this all changed when we had our own children and I appreciated why workers left, and even more so when we became grandparents. Missing Milestones To miss a birth of [...]

Discovering new opportunities with Diaspora Returnee Ministries

When returning from church planting work in Japan, we were told that work with Japanese overseas would be ‘different’.  ‘You’ll have to be flexible’ they said.  ‘Open to being involved in different ministries all across the city’. Well, we are coming to the end of our first year of outreach among Japanese short-stay residents in [...]

How do missionaries balance their family responsibilities well?

Sam helps coordinate OMF’s Mekong Minorities work. He was originally sent to North Thailand from Singapore as a single missionary. There, he met Kul, who he later married and today they have four children. In this interview Sam reflects on what these family changes have meant for his ministry. How did you meet your wife? [...]

‘Visiting prayer partners is like visiting family’: partnership on home assignment

After every ‘term’ of three or four years in East Asia, OMF missionaries return home to reconnect with family and mission partners. It’s a time for rest and refreshment, but also for encouraging others to engage in God’s mission. It follows the pattern of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14:26-28: they ‘returned by ship to [...]

When missionaries’ children grow up: learning to let go

‘Mum, I’m in hospital’. When I heard these words from my son, my heart sank. All sorts of scenarios raced through my mind until he continued. ‘I ate a pork bun at the university café and started feeling sick. I got so sick and dehydrated I decided to go to the hospital’. I found out [...]

Biking, banking, cooking: what does a year of language and culture study look like for a new missionary?

What does the first year of an OMF missionary in Thailand look like? If you join OMF long-term (for 4+ years) then you live in Lopburi, a small town about 2 hours north of the capital city of Bangkok, for about one year. If you join OMF for a shorter term, then your time in [...]

Five things we’re learning about transitions in the ‘autumn’ of our ministry

After two years as part of the OMF Singapore team, Ian & Madeleine have now passed the baton to their successor in their ministry to East Asia. We are grateful to God for the opportunity to serve alongside them. Their cheerful disposition and wise leadership have been a blessing to us. Here they share how [...]

What’s the Cost of Living Internationally?

*PING* It was 6:30am, and I forgot to silence my phone. I didn’t want to look, but curiosity got the better of me. I unlocked the phone and was surprised by what awaited me there. It was a cartoon picture of my friend riding an eagle with an American flag. Underneath this picture was a [...]

My Love-Hate Relationship with Suitcases

I have a complicated relationship with suitcases. In our transient lifestyle, luggage literally moves my life back and forth across the ocean. Over the 22-plus years of being missionaries, we have grown to be pretty expert packers, if I may say. I am thankful for those nifty devices: oversized duffel bags with wheels and 20-lb. [...]

The Things Transitions Teach You

Rosalind is no stranger to transitions. She joined OMF as a doctor, but in her time  as a missionary, she has performed many roles, and including on leadership teams. She came back to Singapore to further equip herself with counselling skill, knowing that it will be beneficial to her future ministry. A Simple Life? I [...]

Being Served

By Andy Smith I came to serve Filipinos. Little did I know how much they would serve me. On my first Sunday here, a missionary family took me to a local church. The Filipino pastor looked familiar. After the service, I approached him, introduced myself, and asked, “Have you been to the United States? I [...]

Long-term Commitment & the Fear of Missing Out

The phone rang and it was a local school principal. “There’s been an incident. Hurry. Go do something!” My wife and I rushed out on our motorbikes and found our church member and her daughter on the side of the street, crying next to their suitcases. They were about to flee back to China to [...]

Trauma!

We joined OMF willing to do whatever was needed to contribute to the mission of reaching South East Asia’s millions. In our journey for the last 26 years, we have embraced many different ministries. As part of this journey (including when we were here as short-term workers), we have experienced numerous critical incidents or stressful [...]

Don’t Wait Till It’s Too Late (Don and Sandy Graham)

Hear Don and Sandy's story of how God led them overseas even in the later stage of their working careers. Music: Doctor Turtle - Hypocritopotamus

Hosting a Short Term Mission

Ever wondered what is it like for a missionary to host a short term mission trip? omf.org/taiwan Music: Blank Kytt - Jangle

Prayer Guides

Workers in the Harvest Field

5x5x5 prayer guide – digital and pdf

How to Pray for Missionaries

From OMF UK – digital and pdf

Pray for Your Missionary

From OMF US – digital and printable

Would you like to experience missionary life?

Going on a short-term mission trip gives the opportunity to meet and serve alongside mission workers and get a glimpse into what life is like for them.

Explore the wide range of short-term mission opportunities available with OMF.