If you, like Anura Leslie Perera, feel called to missionary service, you will certainly spend a great deal of time in contemplation about the path you want to follow. Be careful not to let this important period of reflection turn into a self-defeating project. While it is natural to be concerned about your suitability to become a missionary, and appropriate to explore issues that may limit your service, you may feel that there are certain issues that disqualify you before you begin. Here some common concerns – and none of them deal breakers!
A major concern for many young people who want to share in missions is that as recent graduates, they feel burdened and disheartened by a significant amount of student debt. The irony is that for many, this debt if for the very studies that a person may have taken to prepare themselves for mission work. Student debts may be so significant that you may feel that you will work a lifetime to repay the loans, and you may feel as a result that you are simply not able to become a missionary. While this can be a very real challenge, don’t despair – instead, share your mission’s vision with as many people and churches as you can and you may find that support will well up from the community.
It is the case that there are some health considerations that could prevent you from stepping on the missionary path, and it is important to evaluate whether your personal health situation could or should keep you from mission work. In some instances, it may be the case that availability of medical support for your particular ailment limits where you are able to serve, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t find a suitable place to serve. In other cases, honest reflection is required to understand whether your health is likely to be adversely affected by service or if service is simply more likely to be inconvenient or perhaps uncomfortable. If the latter is the case, then you must seek guidance through prayer and introspection about your priorities. Discomfort will not keep you from serving is that is what you are called to do.
A missionary life is enriching on so many levels, and many children embrace the opportunity to accompany parents on mission work – indeed, they may have their own calling to missionary service and will be thrilled to support the mission. However, this calling can also be challenging, isolating, and sometimes even dangerous, and the safety and well-being of children must be an important consideration. To some degree, this will depend on the age of the child(ren) – there are some times in a child’s life when the sorts of transitions involved in mission work are more easily managed than others. With older children, a critical part of understanding whether a missionary life will work for your family is to discuss it with them, and perhaps to seek out guidance from missionary families who can share their experiences.
A missionary calling is one that you should make every effort to pursue – remember that many of the things that you might first perceive as disqualifiers are instead the first of many challenges to confront and transcend.