Very few people wake up one morning and say, ” I think I’ll be a missionary.” This is a career choice that takes a lot of thought and planning. At one time, our daughter thought she might like to be a missionary. Before deciding if this career is for you, research your options and what is required.
Contact the church, denomination or organization you wish to work for. For instance, if you are a Catholic, call your local Catholic parish and ask if they are presently hiring any missionaries or do they have plans to in the future. Recently, the Southern Baptist Conference had a dry year where they did not hire one new overseas missionary.
Ask your chosen church or organization if they desire a degree from their school or one sponsored by their church. Some denominations will only accept missionaries with degrees from a church affiliated school. Other churches will accept anyone with a degree and calling to help others.
Ask the missionary board you wish to work for what degree you will need. Degree choices might include Missions, Bible Study or a specific field such as Teaching. If you are not sure whom you want to work for, ask around to get an idea what most organizations are looking for.
Beforehand, experience volunteer work in a church setting. While in high school, apply for a summer week of work in one of the summer volunteer programs such as Student Life or World Changers. Students spend a week working on houses, roofing, painting, doing yard work and other miscellaneous volunteer work. Also, volunteer at your church of choice with vacation Bible school or a Sunday school class. If you do not enjoy giving to others and thinking of yourself last, this might not be the career choice for you.
Select the school you wish to attend and apply. Many of these schools require a letter of character from a preacher and several references. Some look at past volunteer work. Apply to more than one to increase chances of being accepted to a school with a great missionary or Bible program. Some schools with mission degrees have easier admittance standard while others are very competitive. Remember that almost all schools look closely at GPA’s and SAT or ACT exam scores.
Becoming a missionary takes planning. Above all else, it requires a commitment to God and others. Those serving in missionary fields often live in less than modern conditions and sometimes risk their own safety. Consider careful this career before choosing. Many say the advantages of being a missionary far outweigh the disadvantages.