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Missionary  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotMissionaries typically provide a number of services, including teaching, medical assistance, construction and church work in isolated and economically deprived communities throughout the world.

dotPaula Pence spent seven years in Rwanda administering Sunday school classes and other Bible study groups. "We did a lot of training classes," she says.

"My husband began the mission there, so it was like getting a board together and doing all the details of a business type of thing as well as speaking in churches."

dotMissionaries have to be prepared to travel a lot and live away from family and friends, often for long periods of time. They also have to be able to deal with operating around foreign languages and unfamiliar customs.

"You don't get to know the people if you live out of [the community]," says Pence. "You need to live among them."

dotOther groups of missionaries visited the village where she lived and put up buildings, provided medical services and built churches.

"Our mission worked with all the other missions that came in," she says. "We all worked back and forth together."

dotIndividual talent often prescribes the type of work a missionary ends up doing.

Many people work as teachers, doctors, veterinarians, ministers, agricultural specialists or journalists. Charles Hedrick, a Baptist missionary, says his group has over 150 different job categories.

dot Gerry Dargatz, a district missions consultant, says that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to gain credibility with the indigenous community. That means being able to offer things like teaching English as a second language or working in a medical clinic.

"You have to meet a heartfelt need to get a starting base," says Dargatz.

dotFieldwork in economically underdeveloped countries can be very harsh, so peak physical fitness is important. However, many of the teaching and administrative positions are in relatively developed areas.

dotSome missionaries never leave their own country, choosing to help those closer to home or to work in administration. There are even highly specialized missionary support jobs, such as aviation mechanics.

At a Glance

Spread Christianity in remote areas or your own backyard

  • The job increasingly requires advanced education
  • There are as many as 150 different job categories for people working as missionaries
  • You might need some theology training