7 Reasons Every Pastor Ought to Train Believers Overseas for at Least a Week Each Year

I realize I’m writing this post in the midst of COVID, when few people are traveling—but I trust the opportunities will open again. When that happens, I pray pastors will again make commitments to travel overseas to train nationals alongside missionaries on the ground. Here are some reasons why:

  1. It’s one way we can assist others in fulfilling the Great Commission around the world. In one week, walking alongside and learning from committed missionaries and national believers, we can help others obey everything Jesus commanded (Matt 28:20). 
  2. All of us could use some time with missionaries who are giving their lives in risky places around the world. I’ve never been with a missionary when my faith wasn’t challenged and stretched. They don’t see themselves as heroes, but I see them that way. 
  3. We need to see that the world’s much bigger than our own little world. It’s easy to see only our ministries and get caught there. Sometimes we see only frustration; at other times, we only build our own kingdoms. In either case, time overseas could be helpful. 
  4. We’ll think better cross-culturally in our own setting after we’ve spent time learning cultural issues from missionaries and national believers. That is, we should go overseas as learners – and then come home as better equippers and evangelists. The world is among us, so we need to learn how to reach them. 
  5. It’s incredibly encouraging to see the thirst and gratitude of nationals who receive training. It’s humbling, actually, to see how much trust and confidence they place in those who come to teach them (and who among us, beginning with me, doesn’t need some humbling?). Then, they often want to just keep learning long after we’re tired!  
  6. We’re often forced overseas to teach the Word at a basic level for new believers, and it’s good for us to be pushed to do that. Our responsibility is not to impress with our knowledge; it is to communicate the gospel well to our audience—whoever and wherever that audience is. 
  7. Many of us are quite blessed, and we have few excuses not to consider going. I know there are legitimate reasons not to go, but many of us can find the time and dollars to provide this kind of training. There are even organizations (like World Hope Bible Institute and others) who help facilitate all the details of such training. We just need the commitment to do it. 

Now’s the time to make this commitment. If I might help connect you with opportunities, feel free to connect with me via this site. 

1 Comment

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    Unless you count the ten years that I lived in England. I have not done any overseas missionary work. However, my mother was trained at a Church of England women teacher’s training college which was founded to train women as home missionaries to the poor and which at the time she attended the college also trained women as overseas missionaries. I lived with my grandparents, mother, and older brother, and my grandparents had been active in supporting both overseas and home missionary work when my mother was younger. My mother also had friends from grammar school and college who became teachers or overseas missionaries. Missions was something we talked about around the dinner table and in the evening. (My mother would support missionary work in Appalachia until her death.) My grandfather had at one time been a young men’s Sunday School teacher and church organist at a Wesleyan Congregationalist Church; my grandmother was the daughter of a school master who attended with his family both the Church of England parish church and the Non-Conformist chapel in the community where he taught school. He adopted this practice because it enabled him to build relationships with his student’s families and to set a good example for his students.

    In England schoolteachers taught religion in school. There is no separation of church and state. My early Christian faith was nurtured at home and at school, more than it was at church. As I recollect, we did not have Sunday school classes. We did, however, have daily assembly at school where hymns and gospel songs were sung, Scripture read, a Bible talk given, and prayers said. The principal of the first school that I attended was an ordained minister of the Church of England. The school was jointly operated by the county and the Church of England. My mother, when she was the head teacher of Rumburgh Village School, a school operated by the county, began the school day and closed it with prayers from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. We also had daily assembly.

    When my family emigrated to the United States in the late 1950s, My grandfather and my mother bought land north of New Orleans in St. Tammany Parish and we built a home on that property. In Louisiana counties are called parishes. We began attending the local Protestant Episcopal parish church at our end of the county. The county had only two Protestant Episcopal parish churches at the time. My grandfather used to commute by Greyhound Bus to New Orleans where he worked and met one of the parishioners on his daily commute. The two became friends and the parishioner invited him to church. The rector of the church was a former overseas missionary to the Philippines. He and his wife had been interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II. I attended that church while I was a teenager. My older brother attended a local Baptist church with his friends from school and I attended Royal Ambassador meetings at that church during the week. One of the things that we studied at these gatherings was the importance of missions. Both the rector of the Protestant Episcopal parish church and the pastor of the local Baptist church were regular visitors to our home. One of the subjects that was brought up during these visits was, you guessed it, missions.

    During my university years I took a six years’ break from church, a break which extended into my mid-thirties when my three nieces began school. I had not intended to take a break from church. I was the oldest member of my confirmation class and was at the time excited about becoming a member of the church. The Protestant Episcopal Church’s campus ministry at my university was nothing more than a service of Holy Communion and a free chicken dinner on Wednesday evenings. The rest of the week the student center was closed, and its doors were locked. I was envious of the Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist students. Their denomination’s had active campus ministries. Their student centers were open throughout the week. They offered a quiet place to study if a student needed one. The Newman Center had a residence hall for Catholic students. My emerging spirituality was Word-based, not sacrament based. I skipped Communion Sundays at my home church because I was not confirmed and could not receive communion. They involved a lot of kneeling and were tedious and boring. I stayed home with my grandmother who was unable to kneel due to her rheumatic knees. I learned in my teen years how a church’s practices can be a barrier to attendance.

    I returned to the Protestant Episcopal Church in my mid-thirties due to an incident that occurred in one of my nieces’ Sunday school classes. They had been attending an Assembly of God church with one of their aunts. My oldest niece’s Sunday school teacher cut off the head of a doll and told the class that is what God does to bad children. This prompted me to offer to bring them with me to my old church where my mother was still a member of the choir. The church’s new rector was a gardener and he, like the gardener in the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, would recognize the potential of his parishioners and would tend his parishioners until they began to bear fruit. He encouraged me to become a licensed minister of the church and take on an active role in the teaching and worship ministries of the church. I would become the worship coordinator on the launch team of a new church that the church launched jointly with the diocese. I would serve as the senior licensed minister of the new church for fifteen years. During that time, the church would become involved in a partnership with a church in Baton Rouge that organized, trained, and sent short-term missionary teams to Honduras and to the Sudan. The Baton Rouge church had a ministry to Sudanese refugees.

    After the Episcopal Church and I eventually parted ways over its lack of enthusiasm for church planting and evangelism, I became involved in a series of new church plants. One was involved in overseas missionary work to Romania and to Zimbabwe as well as missionary work in the United States. Another involved in overseas missionary work in Nicaragua, home missionary work in Eastern Kentucky, disaster relief throughout the United States, and various “For Calloway” projects.

    I have also been involved in two churches that have not been involved in any kind of missionary work except in response to one-time call from their judicatory. The difference between these churches and those active in missions is noticeable. Churches that are active in missions are more outward and other focused.

    Short-term overseas mission trips can be a real eye-opener for Americans and can lead them to become more in various forms of missionary work. My small group, which is now disbanded, at various times included a member who is involved in prison ministry and who now operates a halfway house for newly released prisoners, a Wycliffe Bible translator, a couple who were involved in a ministry to children with learning disabilities, an advocate for abused, neglected, and exploited children, and a couple who are involved in Eight Days of Hope. Most these members had gone on short-term overseas mission trips.

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