[Editor’s note: P2C-Students offers opportunities for young adults to go on mission trips nationally and internationally. We want all people to experience God’s heart for the world. This blog series is one way to discover more about the what, how, and why of #globalmissions.

This article was written by Melissa C, who serves as the Director of Mobilization for OMF Canada. After spending a year in East Asia, she is passionate about empowering people to join in God’s mission to the nations, locally and globally. She and her husband are avid rock climbers and tennis players and are obsessed with their adopted “pandemic cat.”]

What exactly is a call to missions?

Growing up, I had this idea that a calling to missions was something extra special and miraculous—like Moses’ burning bush moment (Exodus 3) or Peter’s vision of the unclean animals (Acts 9). So when I prayed about going on my first mission trip, I waited and looked for some supernatural sign or clear command from God to tell me whether or not I should go. 

Whatever I was looking for, it never came. Instead of supernaturally hearing from God, I simply heard my pastor tell me to sign up, and I went. Turns out that God speaks through ordinary people! 

While God may choose to speak to some people in an audible voice or through powerful visions or signs, the truth is, Scripture tells us that in many ways, God has already “called” us to join him in what he’s doing in the world. 

Jesus clearly tells us to:

  • “deny [ourselves] and take up [our] cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23)
  • “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19)
  • “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8)

And anyone who has come to God through Christ has been given a “ministry of reconciliation.” That is, God has entrusted us with the message that peace with God is possible, making us  “ambassadors for Christ” (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

With this in mind, perhaps “calling” isn’t so mysterious or as complicated as we think.

Perhaps, instead of asking the question, “How do you know if God is calling you?,” in which we are the focal point, we can ask, “How does God want you to be obedient to his will?,” in which God is the focus.

”Hearing” God’s call is about how we respond and take a step of faith in obedience to God’s Word in the Bible.

But don’t get me wrong, we don’t take this step blindly. There are very real things to consider—family, relationships, finances, career, your future—and without guidance, God’s call to missions can be daunting to think about.

How can I discern God’s leading?

Disclaimer: there is no formula, but I would like to share with you some of the things that have helped me prayerfully consider how to move forward.

1. Know God through prayer and his Word

Yes, we can—and should—come to God for answers, especially in a posture of listening and being open to his direction. But coming to God is really about knowing him

Prayer and engaging with Scripture enlarges our vision of who God is, tunes our hearts to his heart, and allows us to experience his presence and work in our lives and throughout the world. 

Cultivating an intimate relationship with God enables us to overcome our fears and worries about taking the next step, as we know our Caller: the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, ever-faithful, good and loving Father, just Judge, and Creator of the universe. He’s the merciful Saviour and gracious Redeemer who would give even his own life for the sake of the salvation of the nations for his glory.

Cultivating an intimate relationship with God enables us to overcome our fears.

2. Know ourselves

God created us with unique personalities, gifts, skills, and passions. Self-awareness increases our understanding of who God made us to be and how we can be used for his glory. 

Take some time to prayerfully consider your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, your skills and talents, your passions and dreams, your education and career. Let these inform your decisions about missions, since God can use all that he has given you to be part of his kingdom work.

3. Seek godly counsel

God did not intend for us to go through this process of discernment alone. Just like the story of Barnabas and Saul (a.k.a. Paul) in Acts 13, God has given us the body of Christ to build one another up, to listen to the Spirit together, and to speak into each other’s lives. 

And again thinking about self-awareness, oftentimes, other people notice things about us that we never realized about ourselves! Being surrounded by a godly community of people you trust is key—including your family, pastor, mentor, discipleship group, a missions coach, a missionary. They can support you, pray with and for you, share insights and godly wisdom, and affirm where God may be leading you.

4. Talk to your family

Now this point could be a blog post on its own, and there are articles that specifically talk about how to navigate this conversation (see resource section below). However, I do want to mention it here briefly because as a young adult, talking to my family was a significant challenge when I began to pursue overseas missions after university.

Coming from an Asian family with one Christian parent and one non-Christian parent, this conversation was something that I prayed about and wrestled with for months. I recognize that everyone’s experiences are different because families are complex, so there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. 

But something that I’ve come to recognize over the years is that my parents’ agreement or disagreement is rooted in their deep love and concern for me as their child. Rather than seeing them as a barrier or obstacle, I began to see that as much as God is leading me in this journey of following him, God is also leading my parents, including the one who isn’t a Christian, on a journey of trusting him.

My parents’ agreement or disagreement is rooted in their deep love and concern for me as their child.

When you start talking with your family about getting involved in missions, especially if they have reservations, I encourage you to do less talking and more listening. Ask the Lord to open your heart to hear what is underlying their responses—whether it’s their emotions, their values, or their expectations—and pray for them as he works in their hearts through this process.

5. Find opportunities to serve locally

We live in a multicultural society with people from all nations living in our own neighbourhoods and communities. There are so many opportunities to learn about different cultures and ethnicities, to pray for unreached people (see resource section below), and to serve with ministries that reach out to refugees, immigrants, international students and professionals. 

Getting involved locally can grow your heart for a particular group of people, equip you for future ministries, and enable you to be part of God’s global mission here and now.

Discerning how God is inviting you to join him in his global mission takes time and effort. It can also be scary. In my journey of discernment, God’s words to a young leader named Joshua have encouraged me to keep going:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Whether you end up going on a mission trip for weeks, months, or even years, know that God will go with you. But of course he’s already with you now, as you look for your next step. 

Additional Resources

Honouring your parents when talking about missions:

How to talk with your parents about missions (article)

How to honor your parents when you’re called to missions (article)

Honoring your parents when they don’t embrace your call to missions (podcast; an interview with the author of this blog post)

What if my parents don’t want me to be a full-time missionary? (article)

Following the call when your family isn’t on board (podcast)

Praying for global missions: 

Operation World (organized by country) 

Joshua Project (organized by people group) 

Prayercast (many different topics)

Look for prayer resources from missional organizations, such as OMF

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