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6 Types of Christian Medical Missions - Serve Your Call
The old cliché reminds us that every journey begins with a single step. If you’re considering the role God has for you in Christian medical missions, that first step could be understanding what’s available. As you consider your calling to medical missions, along with your skills and passions, knowing your options can help you define God’s plans more clearly so you can move in the right direction.   Finding Your Place in Medical Missions The field of Christian medical missions continues to grow. As a result, the opportunities for those interested in pursuing Christian medical missions are expanding as well. Below are six great ways that you can help fulfill the Great Commission by plugging into Christian healthcare ministries.   16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:16-20   1. Short-Term Missions The simplest way to become involved in Christian medical missions is through a short-term trip. But don’t let the term “short-term” fool you. Whether you’re on the field for a week or a month, you can still make a long-term impact through the work you do.  To make that happen, keep two important things in mind. First, prepare well for your trip. While a prepared missionary can make a huge difference in people’s lives, an unprepared missionary can do a lot of damage to the ongoing work on the field. So, spiritually and professionally, prepare yourself to be as effective as possible. Second, go with an organization that emphasizes sustainability. In other words, pick a sending agency that has feet on the ground all the time, not just for a week or two every so often. There are mission organizations that serve many purposes, so finding the one that's right for you is important. That allows you to be a part of something bigger and ensures that others will be able to follow up on your efforts after you leave.     2. Long-Term Missions Some refer to this as “all-in” missions because it requires a calling and a commitment that goes beyond short-term experiences. Whether you’re thinking about Christian medical missions as a career or as an extended season of your life, long-term opportunities mean your world is going to change in major ways. As you think about the potential of long-term medical missions, focus on three phrases tied to the Great Commission. The first is God’s call. Make sure He is calling you to share the gospel and make disciples as a medical missionary. Next, lean into God’s power. On your own, you are not enough. But as Christ equips you, His power provides all you need to fulfill His plan for your life. Finally, recognize God’s presence. The truth is, He is always with you—even when you may not feel it. Take comfort in the reality that He will not leave you or forsake you.     3. Domestic Missions Not all the lost and hurting people are overseas. Millions right here at home need the hope and ministry provided by Christian medical missionaries. So, you can put your skills and passions to work without ever leaving the country. Many domestic medical missions organizations focus on helping the poor and marginalized residents of underserved areas. Some of these might live in urban areas, while others could be from rural regions. In every case, they are vulnerable and isolated from a variety of basic health care resources. So, whether you serve in a secular setting or a faith-based organization, domestic missions allow you to be Jesus’s hands and feet in a powerful way.     4. Marketplace Workers The apostle Paul was a religious scholar and a Christian missionary. But he was also a tentmaker who used this unique skill to open doors for ministry. Today, the job descriptions have changed, but the strategy of using “ordinary” careers to share the gospel has not. And, among such marketplace ministries, health care offers one of the widest avenues. That makes sense because people around the world need health care. And, in many nations, the need outpaces the availability of medical professionals. So, health care missionaries can step in the fill some of those gaps. What’s more, because of this great need, Christian medical missionaries can gain access to places traditional missionaries could never reach. So, you don’t necessarily have to choose between work and missions. As a marketplace missionary, you can use your God-given skills and your unique wiring to make a difference in the world.     5. Disaster Relief From the comfort of our homes, natural disasters can produce a mixture of pity and isolation. We feel bad for those who are affected, but the devastation can seem a million miles away. But, in reality, such disasters can provide incredible ministry opportunities for Christian medical missionaries. By their very nature, disasters create medical emergencies. As a result, those in Christian medical missions can be among the first responders on the scene. In addition, people tend to be more open to the gospel in times of crisis. At the very least, you can be the hands and feet of Jesus is an incredibly practical way by ministering to people at the darkest times of their lives.     6. Medical Education The apostle Paul once encouraged his friend Timothy to pass along all the things that he had shared with Timothy to others (2 Timothy 2:2). That way, the gospel would continue to move from generation to generation. While Paul was primarily talking about doctrine and faith issues, the principle of passing knowledge and experience also applies to other areas—including medical missions. Medical missionaries in other nations benefit from the education and experience that Christian medical missionaries can provide. It might be information that sharpens their minds, or it could be a procedure that enhances their skills. Ultimately, medical educators have the chance to connect students to the Great Physician.  Historically, mission endeavors grow as missionaries train indigenous people how to do the work on their own. Medical educators provide that through their teaching and ministry. It’s an important step toward passing the gospel on to future generations.   The time is now As you can see, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to finding your fit in Christian medical missions. You have a world of awesome medical missions opportunities at your fingertips. Through spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, and meeting with mentors, you can get a better handle on what God wants you to do and where He wants you to do it. Your journey awaits. It’s time to take the first step.   Discover Christian Medical Missions We help connect your professional skills and biblical calling to the largest database of healthcare mission organizations, professionals, and thought leadership. Join us at the Global Missions Health Conference to find your Medical Missions calling. Or, browse our full list of partner organizations to find the right mission for you.  
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How to Become a Missionary
Right before He returned to heaven, Jesus told His disciples that they were responsible for sharing His message around the world (Matthew 28:18-20). He called them to be missionaries, messengers who would spread the gospel locally, regionally, and internationally (Acts 1:8).  If you’ve wondered about how to become a missionary, you’re considering a noble and necessary call. More than 7,000 people groups still need to hear the story of Jesus. Missionaries of all kinds (including medical missionaries) are vital to giving them a chance to respond to God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.   Steps Toward Becoming a Missionary Recognizing the need only answers part of the question about how to become a missionary. Working through His plans and purposes for your life is a process that you need to take seriously.  With that in mind, here are seven steps for becoming a missionary. Some should be done in sequence, while others will happen simultaneously. But each of them can help you identify and refine your God-given direction as a missionary. 1. Consider Your Call. No one should move toward becoming a missionary without a distinct call from God, but understanding your call requires more than responding to a feeling. You need to affirm it through prayer, Bible study, and interaction with mentors and other believers who know you well. That’s the only way to move your internal desire toward a practical reality. You also should involve your local church in this step. In the Bible, Jesus’s command to spread the gospel was directed to churches. And in the book of Acts, churches sent out the first missionaries. Even today, many agencies, especially denominational agencies, require local church involvement.  Finally, working through your call means nurturing the spiritual disciplines and godly qualities that will help you connect with Jesus. Ultimately, becoming a missionary is more about God than about you. He is the One who calls and equips missionaries. So, you need to adopt spiritual practices that will shape you into His image. What’s more, you can never lead anyone where you have not gone, so getting to know Him better will make you more effective once your call is affirmed.   19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:19-20   2. Grow Where You’re Planted. As you think about how to become a missionary, don’t miss the opportunities you have now. Becoming a missionary is about obedience and service. One day that might take shape on the mission field, but you also have opportunities to love and serve God and others right where you are.  Of course, one way to serve right now is through short-term mission opportunities. These trips can give you a sense of what life on the field is like and where God might be leading your heart. Plus, they offer the experience you can’t get anywhere else. Or, even online missionary training, you can do it from anywhere.    3. Research Your Options. Another aspect of discovering how to become a missionary involves doing some research. Online tools allow you to dig into missionary needs and opportunities around the world. Likewise, missional job boards provide information on where your skills and passions can intersect with God’s open doors. But you’ll also want to research specific questions related to life on the mission field. For instance, you’ll probably be curious about what kind of salary you could expect as a missionary. You also need to find out what sending agencies require and what skills would help you be effective as a missionary. Research plays a role in both practical learning and personal discipleship.   4. Get Training. In general, training to become a missionary can take two forms: vocational and ministry. For example, the field of medical missions training ffers a wide variety of opportunities: doctors, nurses, therapists, educators, mental health, and so forth. But each of these areas requires special training. At the same time, becoming a missionary is first and foremost, a spiritual calling. That means ministry training is vital. Even as a medical professional, you will need to know how to share the gospel and have a solid background in biblical studies. It could be helpful to develop some pastoral skills and have a foundation in the basics of counseling. This training can take many forms. Most Christian colleges offer some missionary training track, even for those who want to use other skills (like medicine or business) to share the gospel. Other options include specific training programs offered by missions organizations or online training. You can even start your training now by talking to missionaries you might know and by reading books about missions and missionaries.   5. Build a Network. Knowing how to become a missionary includes knowing how to build a team. At first, that team will probably be your prayer network, especially as you seek to find God’s path and purpose for your life. Later, you will also need a financial network to provide resources for your work. Often, these two networks will overlap, so it is wise to start building support as quickly as possible.   6. Get Out of Debt. Many potential missionaries have been derailed by financial debt. The truth is, it’s hard to gain traction on the mission field if you are hounded by things like mortgages or student loans back home. Some mission agencies may even reject you as a candidate if you have outstanding debt. So, as you work toward becoming a missionary, make getting out of debt and staying out of debt part of your program.   7. Find an Agency. The final step in discovering how to become a missionary is to identify the right mission organization for you. Honestly, there are a lot of great options out there. Some represent denominations, and others work independently. But this will be the organization that basically has your back while you are on the mission field, so you have to choose wisely.    Where Will Life as a Missionary Take You? As you read through Scripture, you’ll see God hand-picking individuals for His plans and purposes. For example, Jeremiah was identified as a prophet to the nations before he was even born (Jeremiah 1:5). Likewise, God chose Saul (later known as Paul) to be a missionary before he ever became a Christ follower (Acts 9:15-16). God had a plan for these men. In fact, God had a plan for every person we read about in His Word. What you need to remember as you seek to become a missionary is that God also has a plan for you. He will lead you. He will equip you. He will provide for you as you learn how to become a missionary. If God has called you to become a missionary, He will help you make it happen.     What is Medical Missions?  We help connect your professional skills and biblical calling to the largest database of healthcare mission organizations, professionals, and thought leadership. Join us at the Global Missions Health Conference to find your Medical Missions calling. Or, browse our full list of partner organizations to find the right mission for you.  
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Physical Therapy in Medical Missions
If you’re like many people, your first thoughts of “medical missions” probably revolve around doctors and nurses reaching folks who have limited access to medical care in their part of the world. And that’s certainly a part of it. But in recent years, the definition of “medical missions” has expanded. In fact, one of the fastest growing areas of need around the globe is physical therapy medical missions.  While physical therapy is common in the United States and other developed nations, it remains out of reach in many underserved nations. There are real physical therapy needs on the mission field. It is vital for healing and recovery from things like physical problems caused by malnutrition and disabilities caused by natural disasters.   What are Physical Therapy Medical Missions To understand the potential of physical therapy medical missions, it’s helpful to define what the term actually means. In general, physical therapy teaches people how to relieve and avoid pain through movement. This could include stretching, exercise, and other activities that promote mobility and the basic functions of life. Physical therapists can help athletes with injuries, stroke victims who have lost function, and injury victims who have suffered a disability. On the mission field, physical therapists can provide a service and ministry that no other medical professional is qualified to offer. Medical doctors and nurses have important roles to play, but most do not have the experience or training to provide specialized physical therapy. That makes physical therapy medical missions an exciting option for those who have the skills for the task and the heart to reach people.   A Couple of Things to Consider While physical therapy medical missions are growing in many respects, it still has some challenges that potential missionaries need to consider. The first is finding a medical missions organization that actually promotes physical therapy as a pathway in medical missions. Because the idea is relatively new, not every mission organization is prepared to provide opportunities for therapists. So, you will need to do some research to find the right fit. Another challenge is the issue of sustainability. In other words, if you go on a 6-month or 12-month mission trip, what happens after you leave? While some medical professionals can accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time, sustainability is vital to the work of physical therapy. You will need to find an organization that can extend the treatments and provides the care after you leave. Fortunately, physical therapists can nurture sustainability in many ways. Because so much of physical therapy medical missions involves proper education and practice, a qualified therapist can teach local patients what to do, empowering them to carry on after they leave. In that sense, physical therapy represents one of the most sustainable forms of medical ministry. But it is still important to talk with sending organizations about their philosophy related to sustainability.   “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” —1 Peter 4:10     What’s Required for Physical Therapy Medical Missions? The first thing a sending agency will need is confirmation of your qualifications and licensure. Just as a medical doctor has to have the necessary degrees and experience to practice, physical therapists must be qualified to do their work. In most cases, an active license from your home country will be sufficient to practice in other nations. But, as always, do your research to make sure. Beyond proper licensure, physical therapists in the mission field need to demonstrate some key skills to serve effectively. For example, leadership in the missions field and the ability to teach others are vital in providing care.  It also helps if a therapist has a broad range of experience. For example, physical therapy medical missions can involve both pediatric and geriatric patients. Therapists will also face various issues, such as helping amputees, caring for stroke patients, and ministering to individuals injured in the workplace. As with all missions endeavors, a wide knowledge base and flexibility can make a huge difference.     Finding your spot of service As you consider the role you might play in physical therapy medical missions, you can also find resources to help you find the right fit for you and your skill set. For example, events such as the Global Missions Health Conference can provide information and offers training for physical therapy missions. The conference, held every year in Louisville, Kentucky, also has breakout sessions related to physical therapy. Also, job boards and websites, such as the one offered by Medical Missions, can point you in the right direction and help you identify possible opportunities in physical therapy. You can use these tools—along with prayer, Bible study, and the guidance of mentors—to find God’s plan for your life. You can determine if physical therapy medical missions is the right direction for you—and, if it is, how you can get started.   Want to get involved in Medical Missions? Attend the 2023 Global Missions Health Conference or Get Started with Medical Missions.