SOUTHEAST ASIA (BP) — Newsflash: Most International Mission Board missionaries are NOT preachers. The mission agency notes this is probably one of the best-kept secrets about its work.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, say those on the field. After all, Jesus was a carpenter. John was a fisherman and Paul was a tentmaker. The IMB released a list of what some of its missionaries are doing in order to share the Gospel:
1. Hand washer
Clean hands save lives. Missionaries in many developing countries stave off death for many by teaching the proper technique for washing hands. (Yes, there’s an actual technique.) Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under age five, according to the World Health Organization. Traveling from village to village, missionaries demonstrate basic hygiene and clean water techniques. Caring for needs like these opens the door to share the Gospel and stories from the Bible.
In the midst of beakers, Bunsen burners and chemicals, God makes Himself known. While one IMB Chemistry professor teaches the periodic table of elements, he also explains his belief in the One who “created all things” to a class filled with atheists. “This is chemistry for God at its best,” the professor said.
3. Cheese maker
Producing cheese is just one of many jobs for an IMB missionary who works on a dairy farm. While this farmer sells all kinds of dairy products in the local market, the goal is to live “life-on-life” with unengaged, unreached people groups. This micro-business gives the community an opportunity to see and respond to Christians as they daily live out the Gospel. As a result, small Bible groups are continuing to develop.
4. Big game hunter
A hunting trip is one of the few ways to reach out to the remotest hunting farms and workers in the heart of Africa. The local guides see a stark contrast between the actions of these believers and most of their regular visitors. Days spent out tracking game turn into the perfect opportunities to share interests and stories from the Bible. Evenings often end with showing the JESUS film back at camp.
Swimming, cycling, running — it’s all in a day’s work for one missionary. He meets up with those who are also passionate about this ultra-endurance sport and trains alongside them. During the hours and hours of exercise, the missionary talks about his real passion — God. Many are hearing the Gospel for the very first time and are taking it home to their families.
Shade-tree mechanics can attract an instant audience and abound all over the world. These short-term missionaries take the “grease monkey” culture to new heights as they share the Gospel with many who would never go to a church service.
7. Organic farmer
Missionary farmers raise everything from domestic animals to local cash crops. Pastors come here to learn sustainable organic farming techniques while also learning how to plant and maintain healthy churches. Through community engagement, villages are opening up to organic farming and allowing these evangelists to share the Gospel through community engagement.
Being a parent is one of the most important “unofficial” jobs for a missionary family. One couple says so many people asked why their children acted differently than others that they decided to start parenting classes. They focus on biblical ways of teaching character, ethics and morals to children. Parents open up to hearing more about Jesus as they learn about growing respectful (Godly) families.
Adventurous missionaries do whatever it takes to reach “the ends of the earth” — river rafting, rock climbing, and hiking mountain passes (just to name a few options). Many people groups live in places so remote that scaling cliffs or hiking for days is the only way to get to them.
Simple needlework patterns serve as a great conversation starter while riding public transportation. The moment a Christian worker pulls one out of her bag a crowd can gather. She uses patterns that depict Bible stories, from creation to Christ, and explains the meaning to onlookers.
“People will stay to hear one, two or more stories,” one worker says. “I like to refer to this as ‘Sew and Sow.'”
Baking overseas can often involve a cauldron over an open fire. Some missionaries teach women to “bake” (or rather steam) cakes, cookies, bread and other delicacies. As part of the lesson, classes are conducted with the Bible as the textbook. Missionaries report that 500 people have come to faith and 15 house churches have been started as a result.
To learn more about how you can be a part of “the norm” on the mission field, go to http://www.imb.org/go/default.aspx. Or take a quiz at http://stories.imb.org/asia/interactives/view/which-missionary-job-should-you-have.