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What Is Missionary Work?
What is missionary work?  That’s a fair question, especially if you believe God may be pointing you in that direction. While it’s great for you to consider a life of missionary service, you need to know what you’re getting into—and what your options might be. To start uncovering an answer to any question, it can be helpful to go back to the basics. And for the question What is missionary work?, the basics are found in the Gospels and in the book of Acts.   The History of Missionary Work During His time on earth, Jesus gathered a group of followers for a three-year intensive in ministry education. That education included opportunities to take the message of His kingdom to surrounding cities (Mark 6:7-13). Those early efforts had positive results, even if His disciples were often a step or two behind what Jesus was trying to teach them. Then, just before He went back to heaven, Jesus provided the marching orders for His people until He returned. Their job was to make other disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and to take the gospel to ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Over time, early believers like Philip (Acts 8:26-40) and Peter (Acts 10) stepped outside their comfort zones and shared the gospel with folks who might have been considered outsiders. Christian missionary work took a huge step forward when the church at Antioch felt the Holy Spirit leading them to commission Saul (later known as Paul) and Barnabas to extend the reach of the gospel across the Roman Empire (Acts 13:2-3). In fact, the rest of Acts narrates Paul’s missionary journeys as he literally took the message of Jesus to Rome, the boundary of the civilized world at the time.   Mission Work Today For Paul and those early Christians, the question of What is missionary work. Involved some serious thought and prayer. The leaders in Antioch even spent time fasting before they were sure they’d heard the Spirit correctly. They took missionary work seriously—and so should we. Today, missionary work might look different than in the first century. But we can still identify some common denominators to help us understand and embrace what missionary work is. Here are five basic elements you can think through as you consider the question What is missionary work? means to your life.   Learn more about Medical Missions. Medical Missions serves to connect your professional skills and biblical calling to the largest database of healthcare mission organizations, professionals, and thought leadership. Join us at the Global Missions Health Conference to find your Medical Missions calling. Or, browse our full list of partner organizations to find the right mission for you.   Missionary work involves sharing the gospel. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it really is important to understand. You cannot know what missionary work is all about apart from the gospel: the good news that Jesus lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose again to offer eternal life in Him. A lot of humanitarian organizations do some great things at home and abroad; but unless their primary goal is to share the gospel, they’re not really doing missionary work.    Missionary work can be domestic or international. You might naturally think of a believer who travels to another country to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And, in a sense, you’d be right. A lot of Christian missions do focus on international work.  But you don’t always need a passport to do missionary work. Many missionaries minister right here at home. God knows that the needs in our nation are just as powerful as the struggles of individuals across an ocean. So, in His grace, He also calls missionaries to work for Him in domestic contexts.   Missionary work can be a career or a short-term endeavor. Just like location, missionary work can also vary in duration. Some believers find their answer to missionary work in moving their families overseas.  While they may serve as a pastor, doctor, or teacher, they truly are career missionaries. On the other hand, other believers find great joy in taking regular short-term mission trips. They serve for weeks or maybe months instead of years. They may travel to same region on every trip or visit many nations over time. Whatever the specifics of their experiences, God uses these short-term missionaries to make a big difference for His kingdom.   Missionary work can involve traditional ministry or marketplace ministry. When Paul went from one town to the next, he had a plan. He shared Jesus in the Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath and shared Jesus is public spaces during the week (Acts 17:16-18). Along the way, he preached and planted churches all over the Empire. That’s traditional missions work—believers preach, lead Bible studies, plant churches, and do personal evangelism where God plants them. It’s a tried and true method that God continues to bless today. But other missionaries minister in the “marketplace.” They aren’t necessarily preachers or church planters. They serve as teachers, medical professionals, pilots, relief workers, business leaders, or in any number of “secular” jobs. They use their skills in a particular career field to build relationships and earn a hearing for the gospel.   Missionary work can be in the field or in support. You probably understand how being in the field could teach all you need to know about missionary work. But you may not realize that behind every missionary—whether domestic or international, career or short-term, traditional or marketplace—stands a support system that breathes life into their work. It could be a prayer network back home, partners from a mission sending agency, or a list of financial backers; but those individuals working behind the scenes are doing missionary work that is just as critical as what the actual missionary does on the field.   Something to Think About in Missions Of course, these five elements are just the beginning of your quest to figure out what missionary work could look like in your life. You also need to spend time in prayer, asking God to give you wisdom and direction. And you need to make sure you have these three issues settled: 1. You must have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. You cannot lead people down a path you have never walked yourself. 2. You need a clear calling from God. This includes an internal sense that God is setting you apart for missions, along with the external affirmation of leaders you trust and the church you attend. 3. You need a plan for training and education. Christian universities, sending organizations, and missions programs can help you in this area; but you need to do all you can to prepare for what God has for you. Missionaries are disciples who lead others to become disciples. They are called by God to fulfill the Great Commission in a unique way. And if God is calling you to move in that direction, He will equip and empower you to make it happen. You might not have all the answers right now. But, in time, He will let you know how the question What is missionary work? finds its resolution in your life.
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Exploring Global Health Mission Trips
In one version of the Great Commission, Jesus told His followers to go into all the world (Mark 16:15). In another, He said to take His love from the home base of Jerusalem to the farthest reaches of the world (Acts 1:8). In every case, He challenged His people to make a difference around the world. One valuable way medical professionals fulfill that call is through global health mission trips. Whether long-term or short-term, the impact of a global health mission trip can resonate within communities around the world for years to come.  If you haven’t taken part in a mission trip focused on global health, as God leads, this may be the time.   What Are Global Health Issues? Before we can dig into global health mission trips, we need to understand what global health really means. As the name suggests, global health relates to any health problem that affects the world. This differs from public health in terms of scope. While public health deals more with local or community problems, global health speaks to situations that involve nations or groups of nations. In general, global health issues fall into two broad categories. First, global health advocates address physical or emotional wellness issues. This primarily relates to the treatment and prevention of various diseases. For example, risks related to illnesses like HIV/AIDS and diabetes are among the top concerns for global health workers because they affect so many people in so many places. Likewise, disease education and prevention fall under the category of physical global health issues. The second category could be called cultural or policy concerns. These issues deal with the negative impact social expectations or government actions can have on global health. For instance, the availability of clean water and access to proper hygiene are problems in many regions. Also, poverty, refugee crises, and natural disasters present global health concerns. From a Christian perspective, many medical missionaries and missions organizations view all global health issues through the lens of the Great Commission. For these groups, such as the Global Health Missions Conference, working toward solutions is an important way of serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. And mission trips focused on global health are part of the equation.   How You Can Make a Difference Meeting the needs of suffering people in underserved areas is not just a good idea. It’s a divine mandate rooted in Jesus’s command to serve the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46). That’s why so many organizations are working to answer God’s call through global health mission trips.  The list below includes five organizations that offer mission trips related to global health issues. Their influence reaches around the world through both short-term and long-term opportunities. Above all, they seek to make a difference for people, for nations, and for the kingdom of God.    Global Health Outreach Global Health Outreach is the missions arm of Christian Medical and Dental Associates (CMDA). As part of its work, GHO provides long-term and short-term global health mission trips in a variety of nations. These trips involve basic health care, education for disease prevention, support for local medical professionals, surgical care, and dental care. Since medical professionals have access to areas that forbid traditional missionaries, GHO places special emphasis on unreached groups in difficult settings.   Medical Teams International Some disasters are the result of nature. Some are man-made. All of them are the focus of Medical Teams International. The global health mission trips from Medical Teams International cover everything from hurricane relief to helping ease suffering during a refugee crisis. Serving primarily in Africa and South America, Medical Teams International also works to improve maternal and childhood health in underserved regions.    Heart to Heart International One key to solving a medical crisis is teaching people how to avoid it in the first place. Such education and disease prevention programs are part of the global health initiatives supported by Heart to Heart International. In addition to education, Heart to Heart also works to provide greater access to medicines. In addition, the agency recognizes the impact of some global health issues on the United States, so it offers medicine, equipment, and community support closer to home.   Global Health Reach The major focus on Global Health Reach is providing global health mission trips that will produce long-term results. The agency believes that partnerships are key to resolving global health issues As a result, Global Health Reach sponsors both long-term and short-term global health trips, but every opportunity plugs into a support system for local professionals. By providing follow-up with regular trips, Global Health Reach can have an impact on an area’s global health concerns for decades.   Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH) Another agency rooted in partnership is Christian Connections for International Health. Through their network of individuals and organizations. CCIH advocates for effective solutions to global health crises. In addition to health issues, CCIH global health mission trips attempt to connect best practices with faith in a way that produces wholeness for individuals and communities.    You and Global Health Missions Some things haven’t changed much since Jesus issued the Great Commission more than 2,000 years ago. Many around the world are still hurting and still need the power of the gospel in their lives. And one proven way to earn a hearing for the gospel is to meet people where they are and to provide relief for their suffering. That’s what makes global health mission trips so important. As a medical professional or student, you have the chance to use your skills and abilities to make a difference in the world. You can apply your passions on a mission trip focused on global health concerns.  All it takes for you to become part of the solution is a divine call and a willing heart. As God leads, you can be the one God uses to transform the life of someone struggling with a global health crisis today.   Want to get involved in Medical Missions? Attend the Global Missions Health Conference or Get Started with Medical Missions.
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7 Awesome Mission Trips to Africa
Sometimes, Christians will joke about following God wherever He leads—as long as He doesn’t call them to Africa. But the truth is, the African continent is a stunning mixture of incredible beauty and devastating need. That’s why many sending organizations have a full slate of mission trips to Africa listed in their short-term, long-term, and career options.   Getting to Know Today’s Africa While it’s easy to think of Africa as a mysterious place, it’s important to move past stereotypes and examine the facts. For example, Africa is the second largest continent in terms of both land and population. It accounts for about 20% of the world’s land mass (nearly 12 million square miles) and more than 12% of its population (1.2 billion people). Those people are spread across 54 nations, including the islands of Madagascar and Seychelles. More than 1,500 different languages can be heard on the continent. Geographically, two regions of Africa are divided by the Sahara Desert, one of the largest deserts in the world. Yet, areas of Africa thrive thanks to magnificent rivers (like the Nile) that feed into fertile valleys and forests. The continent is home to both large, modern cities and traditional, rural villages. Religiously, Africa has a long history with both Christianity and Islam. Many in the more rural regions also practice spiritism and naturalistic religions, along with witchcraft.    7 Mission Trips to Africa  All of that information makes mission trips to Africa a vital tool in fulfilling the Great Commission. The combination of a large population and spiritual diversity means that many African people need to hear about Jesus. Plus, so much of Africa is underserved and mired in poverty. It’s a place where opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus abound, especially when it comes to medical missions. The list below highlights seven organizations that are sponsoring medical mission trips to Africa in 2023. Since the needs are so great, the opportunities are rich. Regardless of your specialty, you can find a place to serve on a mission trip to Africa.    Pioneer Christian Hospital This 60-bed hospital is located in the Republic of Congo and exists to share Jesus while making an impact on the overall health of the nation. Pioneer, which serves an area that roughly 300,000 people call home, offers opportunities for both long-term and short-term African mission experiences. Visiting medical missionaries work with Congolese staff members to treat a wide array of medical issues.    Tenwek Hospital. The motto of Kenya’s Tenwek Hospital is “We Treat, Jesus Heals.” Founded in 1937, this 361-bed hospital continues to meet the needs of residents in a variety of ways, including dental and optometric services. Tenwek is also a teaching hospital that trains new doctors and has a research emphasis to keep up with important medical advances. Medical missions opportunities are provided in cooperation with hospital partners, like Samaritan’s Purse and World Gospel Mission.   World Medical Mission. Speaking of Samaritan’s Purse, this North Carolina-based ministry provides additional medical mission trips to Africa through World Medical Mission. The ministry’s Specialty Teams represent a focus on short-term experiences in places like Kenya and Cameroon. Some of these teams share knowledge with local doctors, while others focus on medical equipment and building relationships that could help expand its network of medical facilities. World Medical Mission also has internships and apprenticeships for students.   Cure International. If you have a heart for children, you will want to look into the African mission trips sponsored by Cure International. With hospitals in seven African nations (Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Niger, Zambia, and Kenya), Cure specializes in treating children with disabilities. The surgeries they provide are performed at no cost to the families involved. In addition to medical professionals, Cure also offers opportunities for spiritual ministry and facilities management.     One World Health. Mission trips to Africa sponsored by One World Health focus primarily on the nation of Uganda through two kinds of trips. The group’s typical short-term experience—Clinical Outreach Teams—lasts one week and provides support for local hospital staffs. One World Health has three of these trips planned this year, in May, July, and December. The second option is an ongoing project called Partner in Global Health. This trip provides continuing education to local professionals and encourages a four-week commitment.   Global Health Outreach. As part of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, Global Health Outreach offers dozens of outreach events each year, including mission trips to Africa. For example, in June a trip to Zambia will focus on orphan care. Because HIV and other illnesses have devastated its adult population, Zambia has the world’s highest orphan rate, despite being only the size of Texas. This trip will bring together medical doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses, physical therapists, and even non-medical volunteers to meet these needs. In addition, GHO has separate general medical trips to Ghana and northern Africa scheduled for later in the year.   Medical Educators International. If you’re a teacher at heart, Medical Educators International might be the group for you. Like GHO, Medical Educators International is a ministry of Christian Medical and Dental Associates, but it provides academic and clinical training for indigenous medical staffs. In addition to instructing students on the practical aspects of health care, MEI missionaries also model ways to show the love and compassion of Jesus. In June, MEI is sponsoring a trip to Tanzania to teach medical residents in classroom settings and through hospital rounds.   Follow Your Calling If you sense God calling you to take part in a mission trip to Africa, you’ve got plenty of options. Your gifts and abilities might be the perfect fit for a missions experience that will change your life and the lives of so many on the other side of the world.  Accept the challenge. Follow your call. Be Jesus’s hands and feet in Africa this year.   Discover Medical Missions. Medical Missions serves to connect your professional skills and biblical calling to the largest database of healthcare mission organizations, professionals, and thought leadership. Join us at the Global Missions Health Conference to find your Medical Missions calling. Or, browse our full list of partner organizations to find the right mission for you.
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Attend a Missions Conference in 2023
Almost every career has a path for continuing education. Some might include formal classes and advanced degrees, while others could involve special conferences or events. The world of missions is no different. Whether you’re a veteran or just dipping your toes into God’s call on your life, attending a missions conference can make a difference in your life and your ministry. And, even if you’ve never thought about attending a missions conference in the past, this might be a great year to start making your plans.   3 Reasons to Attend a Missions Conference If you’ve heard God’s call to missions, you may wonder why you need to be part of a missions conference. One great reason is the opportunity to network. If anyone needs a support system, it’s a missionary. And missions conferences give you the opportunity to learn from others and build new relationships. Second, you can be trained to be more effective in what you do—or will be doing. The world is a big place, and things are happening all over the planet. Some of these things could affect your ministry, but it’s hard to keep up with everything on your own. Mission conferences bring groups together from everywhere. The keynotes and the breakouts provide important information about both world conditions and the global work of God. Finally, being a part of these missionary conferences can draw you closer to God and to your calling. Discipleship is a vital part of any Christian ministry, including missions. Digging into the worship and instruction can help clarify your call and keep you moving in the right direction.     2023 Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC)    This medical missions conference will be held November 9-11 at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference will provide both keynote talks and breakouts that cover a variety of topics related to medical missions, global health issues, and education. Over the years, GMHC has become one of the premier missions conferences in the United States and draws presenters, partners, and participants from all over the world. In addition, the conference can be attended virtually. Learn more about the virtual Global Missions Health Conference happening this year.    Other solid options for missionary conferences include the following: • Cross Conference. The next Cross Conference is scheduled for January 3-5, 2024, in Louisville. Founded by long-time pastor John Piper, Cross Conference challenges believers to “make their lives count by making Jesus known.” While the stated target audience is young adults, ages 18-25, this missions conference has something for everyone. The emphasis on holistic discipleship and surrender to God’s leading makes it a great place to dive deeper into your missions calling. • Business as Mission (BAM). Decades ago, evangelist Billy Graham recognized the need to connect Christian leaders around the world for the sake of the gospel. That led to the creation of the Lausanne Movement, which eventually opened the door for Business as Mission. Much of the organization’s content is web-based, but it uniquely exists to support the redemptive power of believers in the marketplace. • Local church and denominational conferences. As mentioned above, churches across America hold missions conferences every year. You might find one close to home that can provide encouragement and direction. In addition, many denominational missions groups host regional and national events. For example, the International Conference on Missions (held November 15-19 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) focuses on churches aligned with the Restoration Movement of the Christian churches and Churches of Christ. Likewise, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention hosts events throughout the year that help churches and individuals focus on the Great Commission.   How to Stay Connected and on Mission Of course, as great as the Global Missions Health Conference and these other opportunities might be, they are really just scratching the surface. The options are truly beyond what one blog post can encompass. That’s why a resource like the Missions Event Calendar published by Missions Catalyst can be a great tool.  Whether you’re interested in medical missions, marketplace missions, or a more traditional form of missions, being a part of a missionary conference is a great idea. God has provided a wealth of resources, so it just makes sense to take advantage of the opportunities. It will take some research and planning, but the end result could make you more effective in your ministry, which will bring more glory to God and expand His kingdom.