“I want to tell you something. The other night when I was doing homework in my room, I felt like God was calling me into missions. I think he wants me to be a missionary when I’m an adult.”
A young man in our youth group shared those words with me a couple weeks ago. He’s only in middle school, but his heart has already been prompted by the Spirit to at least consider what a life in missions might look like.
“Do you have any advice for me?” he asked.
What a thrill! What a privilege to plant seeds for missions into this boy’s heart. I prayed for him and about his question for a couple weeks. I wrote his mom an email last night with some ideas. I thought I’d share them here with you, that the Lord may use them in the life of another who may be feeling prompted toward a future on the mission field.
1. Immerse Yourself in the Bible
The best way to prepare for a life in ministry is to know and love the Word of God. Being young does not preclude you from being able to study the Bible! You can dive in at any age or stage of life. I would strongly encourage all Christians—but especially those who feel called to teach or lead in some way—to be fiercely committed to a local church and possibly a youth group, or a small group, or a discipleship relationship, or all of the above. You can’t overdo it on studying scripture, and no matter how old or how smart you are, the Word of God will never be fully known to you. I encouraged my young friend to get a good study Bible so that he can overcome hurdles when he comes to them. One thought is checking out the CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students.
2. Familiarize Yourself With the World
Displaying a world map in your home does wonders for simply reminding you that life is bigger than your own hometown. Maps are somehow inherently attractive—wherever one is displayed people linger over them and examine far away places. Our family had one on our dining room table, under a plastic mat, for years. It kept us at the table well beyond meal time.
In addition to the map, I encourage teens to get a subscription to World Teen Magazine. It is age-appropriate and will broaden your horizons in geography, history, sociology and current events. Also, making a daily habit to check on the Joshua Project website will increase both your knowledge of and burden for people around the world. The site features a different unreached people group each day.
3. Read Missionary Biographies
Reading missionary biographies will enlighten and motivate any Christian to consider going to the mission field. There’s just something about reading what another person was willing to do for the name of Jesus that spurs us on to good works ourselves. They’re an invaluable resource for anyone considering missions! There are many great series written for kids. We own many of the Christian Heroes: Then and Now and they were perfect for my kids when they were in elementary school.
Other missionary biographies that I have enjoyed are Reckless Abandon, The Story of John G. Paton: Or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals, A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael and Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God, among many others.
4. Be in Ministry Now
As my husband and I were preparing for the mission field, our missions pastor gave us good advice: Dive headfirst into as much ministry as we could while missions was still a ways off. He knew we needed to excel at serving and that would require practice. He also knew that it would benefit us to get to know many people in the church, to experience a variety of relationships and needs and learn how to elevate others above ourselves. We washed dishes after church dinners, served coffee, taught classes, you name it. I’ve heard many wise men and women in full-time missions say, “If you’re not willing to be a missionary right where you are, don’t fly around the world to give it a try.”