Using your professional skills in missions

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” Romans 12:4-6 (NIV)

Since OM’s inception 60 years ago, the emphasis has been on using ordinary people to share the gospel around the world. That’s still true today but, in this time of modern missions, OM has evolved. While the organisation is still passionate about evangelism and church planting, there’s also a growing awareness of how God has equipped every individual with different gifts and skills—and no matter what those gifts are, they can be used in global missions.

Mark of the USA first became interested in missions while working in the corporate world but, when he examined his own skill set and passions, he didn’t see how he could fit into God’s plan for the nations. “I was always under the impression that missionaries…had to be pastors or evangelists,” he said.

It wasn’t until he was on a short-term mission trip and heard many full-time missionaries explaining that their greatest need was administrative staff that he realised that perhaps he could find a place as a missionary, after all. Mark joined OM Middle East and North Africa in personnel, using the skills he’d learnt working in the business world to enable evangelists, relief workers, and other ministry team members to serve in their own callings.

In fact, many support team members within OM who left their professional jobs to serve as full-time missionaries are passionate about freeing up other team members so everyone can serve in their appropriate giftings.

“We’re here to drive the processes of the departments and…enable the organisation,” said Jamie Bell of Ireland, who works for OM International in IT.

Jamie was called to missions as a child and was ready to leave everything behind to serve God full time, including school. But God spoke to him through a woman at church, telling Jamie, “The Lord knows the plans of your heart, but you have to get a good education first.”

After finishing university, Jamie was led into IT at a multi-million-dollar company. For years, he assumed God had called him to that job, where he would financially support missionaries, but God told him his time was finished—and he joined OM.

“I’ve always felt like God has a handle on my life, and has been training me for [a specific job]. He put me on a course that led me to have the perfect experience for the job [in OM],” he explained. “I’ve got a specific skill God’s given me and…my job is making a difference.”

Mark’s wife, Julie, experienced a similar childhood call to missions, eventually abandoning her professional photography business in the USA to move overseas. When she observed that OM communications was asking preachers, evangelists and team leaders to write stories and take photos about their ministries, which pulled them away from the ministries themselves, she saw the opportunity to use her gifts.

Julie now heads up OM’s new International Communications Internship programme, which connects young professionals with OM teams worldwide and trains them to “use their skills as advocacy for the ministry.” Julie envisions the programme as helping these young people see themselves as part of the Body of Christ.

When someone is serving God in their gifting, “it creates the most joy in the individual and most effectiveness in the ministry,” Julie asserted. “The idea that we’re the Body of Christ on the mission field, making disciples among the nations, and able to recognise how God has gifted us and to do it diligently is a privilege.”

This passion for equipping the Body of Christ is leading OM to recruit professionals to help grow more vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached. While these roles have gone unseen for years, OM is moving forward with greater emphasis on professionals taking part in the larger vision of reaching the nations.

This talent, undergirded with a heart and attitude of service, is what OM hopes will push the organisation into the future. From keeping teams in Zambia connected to the Internet or finding the right role in the right country for a new OM recruit, to interviewing church planters in Brazil, professionals play a significant role not only in the mechanisms of the organisation but also in the kingdom of God. More than cogs in a giant machine, they act as the hands and feet—or ears and elbows—of Jesus to bring glory to the Father and carry the hope of the gospel to the least reached of the world.

Katie M. Stout is a seminary student, writing tutor and running enthusiast, which is a good thing, since she also loves food. She formerly worked with OM in communications.

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