I recently participated in a podcast about the International Mission Board’s Journeyman program, where college graduates and young adults spend two years ministering overseas. I began my Journeyman term 10 years ago, so I enjoyed reflecting back on that pivotal time of my life. I pray God uses that podcast to call more laborers to the field. In the meantime, here are 10 things from my experience that didn’t make the podcast:
- “Two years” is a relative phrase.
As I was preparing to start my term, two years felt like a lifetime, but those two years flew by. Now, several years later, it doesn’t seem like very long at all, but those two years completely changed my life and still impact me on a daily basis.
- God loves to use our quirks.
My love of sports (even though I am not very good at them), my affinity for office supplies and my distaste for reading opened all doors for me to share the Gospel and build relationships.
- The “travel bug” is real.
I never knew that I enjoyed traveling until I served as a Journeyman. Now I can’t get enough of it. I want to see all the places, meet all the people, eat all the food and do all the things—and then do it all again!
- Sometimes you surprise yourself.
If you had told me in college that one day I would be paragliding off a mountain in Eastern Europe, hitchhiking in a foreign country, or valuing duct tape and BBQ sauce as treasured possessions, I would have thought you were crazy. All of those became a reality for me on the field.
- God can use anyone.
I am a small-town girl who got culture shock just moving to Texas. I am mediocre at a lot of things, but I possess no special talent or ability. I have Lupus and other medical conditions that, in some ways, limit what I can do. I battle my sinful flesh daily. In spite of all this, God still used me.
- It is hard.
Culture shock is real. Language learning is hard. The identity crisis is brutal. Being away from loved ones hurts. But it is all so undeniably worth it.
- I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I never desired to live overseas, but God called me to go and then worked out every detail to make it happen. It was so far out of my comfort zone I couldn’t even see it anymore, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
- The Cooperative Program & Lottie Moon Christmas Offering are legit.
This was mentioned on the podcast, but bears repeating. Southern Baptists have done an exceptional job of making missions possible for those who are called. The ability to focus on the mission instead of the money is an invaluable gift. So thank you for giving!
- It’s not about me.
International service makes you acutely aware of how God is working all over the world and how each person’s faithfulness or disobedience affects others.
- The need is great.
There is a whole wide world of people who need to hear the Gospel. We are all called to share with those around us; it’s just a matter of where. If God is calling you to go, go. If He is calling you to stay, find ways to support and encourage those who are going while you continue sharing with those in your local context.
If you or someone you know is interested in the Journeyman program, I’d love to share more about my experience and connect you with others who can help; just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.