Finding the right mission organization

Find the right mission organization

When I was little, my dad gave me a Swiss army knife—not that I could be trusted with it, as a tiny arc welding accident proved later—but I loved that knife. I could use tools on that single knife for so many things:

  • Big knife: Slice celery.
  • Small knife: Slice butter (but I’d pull out a butter knife to spread it).
  • Screwdriver: Turn a screw that wasn’t on tight enough to hold anything.
  • Saw: Cut logs, if they were a quarter-inch in diameter.
  • Ivory toothpick: Well, pick teeth.
  • Tweezers: Pull out splinters.

I still use the tweezers.

I found that I could use a more specialized tool for just about any particular task, and that special tool worked better than my Swiss army knife. A multi-use tool does a lot of things, sort of.

If you’re spending weeks of your life and thousands of dollars on a missions trip, you’d probably want more than a sort of good trip. If you think you may want to specialize later, you could take a short-term trip with an organization that concentrates on that same thing. Many missions organizations will do a number of things sort of well, but for some specialized areas you’ll want a group with the right tools to send you and employ your particular set of skills.

Navigators World Missions does many things well. Our pathways to the nations allow people a wide variety of contexts for disciplemaking, teaming with host partners in prayer and outreach, and serving local people. Business-as-mission work, teaching children and adults, whole-life discipleship among communities struggling with poverty, college campus, and community outreach—World Missions offers these and many other opportunities for helping you “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

But even with the wide array of opportunities we provide, we realize that our organization is only one part of the bigger body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). As one of “many parts, but one body,” we know that we can’t help you fly a bush plane as well as an organization full of pilots. If you want to specialize in thoracic surgery overseas, for your last summer before med school, you may want to go with a medical mission sending organization and volunteer in their hospital. We don’t operate hospitals but we know groups that do and want you to find your best sending organization.

Whatever your specialization, if Navigators World Missions isn’t the right fit, how can you find something that is? For starters, we’ve compiled a list of some sending organizations you may want to consider, if you already know you want to specialize in one of these areas.

Aviation:  If you want to fly and maintain planes for mission work, then Mission Aviation Fellowship or JAARS could be for you. They serve people in remote locations supporting Bible translation and humanitarian work.

Bible translation:  Maybe you want to work full-time in Bible translation, bringing God’s Word and improved literacy to out-of-the-way people groups. SIL International and Wycliffe Bible Translators have been leaders in Bible translation for the better part of a century.

Christian movies:  Harvest Productions Ministries and other Christian filmmakers are producing content for sharing Good News.

Engineering:  Do you want to serve as an engineer? EMI and others bring sustainable design with appropriate technology to people in need around the world.

Hospitals and medical missions:  Groups such as the ABWE International and Samaritan’s Purse have established hospitals, medical, and surgical facilities.

Israel and Jewish ministry:  Organizations such as Friends of Israel and Jews for Jesus communicate biblical truth about the Messiah while building solidarity with the Jewish people.

Missionary kids schools:  If your interest lies in education for missionary kids, the Association of Christian Schools International and ABWE International can help you pursue that.

Orphanage and child care:  When your entire focus rests on children, you may be looking for Compassion International or World Vision.

Prison:  Prison Fellowship focuses on ministry to incarcerated persons overseas as well as in the U.S.

Radio ministry:  Maybe you’re the kind of person whom God has gifted to work on the technical side of radio broadcasting. In that case, you may be looking for a group such as TWR or Sonset Solutions.

Relief work:  Many good organizations specialize in relief ministry and disaster-related service, including Food for the Hungry and World Vision.

Sex trafficking rescue:  To get deeply involved with rescuing people from sex trafficking and slavery, you may consider International Justice Mission or Destiny Rescue.

Whatever your focus, seek to go with an organization that will help you use and develop your God-given gifts, values, and calling. Then ask God to bless you and the people with whom you’ll be serving.

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