Why Serve Overseas for 6 Months

Sometimes the Lord asks us, very subtly, to do something He is calling us to. Other times, it feels like He hits us over the head with it. This is what happened when the Lord asked me to serve in SE Asia for a semester. Despite all my excuses, questions, and fears, the Lord was steadfast in showing me that He was calling me to go and serve cross-culturally for a few months. Some of my most common questions to the Lord were “Are you sure, God?” and “Why do you want me to go?” and there were a lot of thoughts of “I can’t do this.” But, the Lord was once again steadfast in meeting me in the midst of these questions and concerns. He taught me a few things about “Why should I serve overseas for a mid-term placement?”.

  1. Because we are called.   As Christians, we are called to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. This includes the hard places. This command does not just apply to a select few that the Lord deems capable of living overseas. This command applies to all believers. Our mission is to make disciples of all nations, and teach them to obey the commands He has given us. (Matthew 28:18-20)
  2. Because Jesus is better.   In all the fears and questions and unknowns of moving overseas, in all of the stress of finding a new place to live and trying to navigate a new language, culture, and type of food, Jesus is better. He is greater. He is our sustainer. He cares for us and will carry us through even the really uncomfortable times. It is a wonderful gift that our God does not fear the things that scare us, and that God is our God. As our Creator He delights in His creation and sustains us as His handiwork. (Colossians 1:16-17)
  3. Because it makes us rely on the LordWhen you are placed in an unfamiliar place, with no idea how to get anywhere or find a meal, and limited knowledge of how to ask for help or directions, your reliance on the Lord will grow like never before. I learned just how big, yet concerned with the details, our God is while I was away. A desire to read and know Scripture consumed me because my sole reliance was on the Lord. There were very few things I could do for myself, by myself. But with the grace and strength of the Lord, I was sustained, equipped, and encouraged. (Psalm 28)
  4. Because the relationships are worth itSix months is enough time to get your feet wet and begin to understand the culture. In those six months, you will meet some of the most special people. As you do life with others and depend on them for help in daily life, you will begin to trust these friends in a deeper way than you are used to. These friends, many of whom you will be ministering to and sharing the gospel with, will come to mean the world to you. If you have teammates with you, that will also be a bond unlike any other. As you study Scripture and pray and minister alongside each other, you will form deep roots. As your mid-term mission journey comes to an end, these relationships will be the hardest to leave behind. (1 Peter 4:8-10)

If you’ve never considered serving in a cross-cultural context, go to the Lord offering Him your surrender and saying, “Here I am, Send Me.” One of the greatest blessings you’ll ever know may just come from it. 

Author: Hannah Rossell, Middle School Resident at Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Ridgeland, MS. Hannah spent the Fall of 2023 serving in SE Asia with the Hands On program of the International Mission Board.