Let me tell you a bit about Joe.
Joe was a business student at a university in the United States. He spent a semester studying abroad in an international city. While there, he learned some of the language, developed meaningful relationships, and wanted to find a way back. In his senior year, he landed a summer internship at an investment firm in the same city. Joe loved it. Living and working in another culture has become her passion.
After graduating, Joe got a job with the same company. They got him a work visa, and he moved to his beloved city the following fall. There he not only started working, but also attended an international church. This church had members representing more than 30 nationalities. Joe’s heart was stirred. He started wondering, Did God put me in this place for another purpose?
Joe’s story is like that of many Christians who are market professionals in the global economy. They might ask, “Is it possible to live with missionary intentionality and pursue career dreams at the same time? ” I say yes. IIt is in fact the opportunity that all believers have wherever they are in the world. In Joe’s case, that desire began in another country. OWhat is it like to pursue this overseas?
For Joe, it was like taking discipleship seriously. An older believer invested in him. Joe has been involved in various church ministries. And he began to connect with other professionals who wanted to embody God’s purposes through their life and work abroad.
Eventually Joe joined a group of professionals under the guidance of a local missionary; the group sought to empower each other while reaching out to the professional community in ways that would be difficult for many “traditional” missionaries. Together they formed a team, pouring into the life of their church and intentionally living for Christ in their workplaces.
Developing a career abroad and being an ambassador for Christ are not mutually exclusive goals.
Like many expatriate believers, Joe discovered God’s purpose for him both inside and outside of his job. He considers himself a messenger (John 20:21). He realized that developing a career abroad and being an ambassador for Christ are not mutually exclusive goals. This is the thrilling frontier of market missions.
Workers in the global market have many opportunities to live in mission because of their vocation. Let me name a few.
People naturally relate to market workers like Joe more than to vocation missionaries. He works in a familiar field and he is considered a contributor to society. It doesn’t need to find a platform or an identity. He is simply himself. He works hard like them. People can understand and appreciate that.
Global professionals can often go where “traditional” missionaries cannot. Market workers like Joe also have natural, everyday interactions with people. Vocational missionaries must to find ways to connect with baristas, taxi drivers and neighbors. But these connections are often transactional and temporary. Even if a conversation goes well, it will include the subject of vocation, and the missionary should explain his reason for being there. Joe’s presence in the community, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. This gives him natural access and less complicated conversations.
Unlike traditional missionaries, market workers are not dependent on support and missions from churches, donors and mission organizations. Rather, their livelihood comes from their work, which Is require good job performance and a viable business. But having a single employer consolidates Joe’s professional expectations of a single entity. He doesn’t bother to justify donations to his family or regularly return to the United States to renew his support. He simply does his job and receives compensation for it.
Of course, not all market missions are advantageous. In many cases, expatriate workers can only stay in a country for a few years due to tax laws or other laws. Often their businesses will choose to relocate them. After all, they’re there to make money, and those valuable employees can be useful elsewhere. Of course, if global professionals see themselves as God-sent, even these changes become opportunities for missionary impact.
Individuals in the global market also have to work hard. Their businesses generally require long hours. This lack of flexibility and free time can be difficult. These workers therefore need to be strategic and intentional in how they spend their time. One of the best ways to do this is to connect deeply with a local church and possibly a missionary team where they can serve and use their gifts.
Another challenge for these workers can be learning the local language and culture. Unlike vocation missionaries, they simply don’t have time to learn the language before they begin their work. If they have a family, it will be even more difficult. However, even though English is an international business language, many will be able to practice the local language in their offices and learn the culture of their colleagues. With a little coaching and effort, they can become proficient speakers of the local language.
Marketplace Christians are not plan B or junior college in God’s missionnm
Should you go?
Are global professionals like Joe better than vocational missionaries? Of course not. But market Christians are not plan B or junior college in God’s missionnm They have a role to play in the kingdom.
Could God prepare you to go abroad with your job or career? It is certainly something that many Christian professionals should pray and consider. And even if you cannot be sent as a vocational missionary, you can still seek the guidance and support of your local church. Because we need more people who are salt and light wherever God places them. Just like Joe.