Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Thanks for tuning in to episode 111 of Missions on Point. We're in a series on contemporary issues and missions, and today's topic is contract employment, benefits and issues. This is related to our previous episodes on business as missions and what is business as missions or BAM and what it is not, but this specifically deals with contract employment. The basic case is an opportunity in which a Christian believer sincerely wants to make an impact on evangelism in the world and seeks out contract employment in order to go live in a different place, perhaps close to a pioneering missionary kind of a place. This person may utilize their large international company's network to discover openings in another city. They may actually pursue a resume that gives them opportunities to hire on as an expert or a contributor in their particular field, in a foreign country, specifically in places that are strategic for the sake of the gospel.

I remember hearing this story decades ago of a retired ophthalmologist, a Christian who was sort of regretting that he never went to the mission field even though he kind of felt a missionary call when he was younger, but he established his practice. It was a well-respected practice in the United States. He retired and at age 70 he went to Afghanistan where there was a particular eye disease problem that he could use his expertise to minister to people and serve them in the name of Christ and hopefully share the gospel. In fact, the story goes, he had amazing spiritual fruitfulness at that age of his life because he went to an opportunity and assumed the responsibility for that job in that strategic place. Now, similar to many other considerations of missions, I would say that the primary thing is to keep focus on the end goal. That is if a Christian is going into contract job, ask the right kinds of questions to find out what the spiritual opportunities might be and keep the spiritual opportunities there as the main purpose, the work or contract as the platform for fulfilling that purpose.

It means that the person going as a contract worker needs to have excellence in their performance in the contract that brings them into that location so that they have a good testimony and reputation for the sake of Christ and their words about the gospel and about Jesus, our believable because they're living it out in their life. So what kind of contract jobs are out there? There's a lot of them. Some of the biggest ones happen to be in the area of medicine and medical related businesses or work. It also has to do with education and the whole profession of education in terms of raising the educational standards and levels and access to education among needy peoples of the world. Also, very common is teaching English as a foreign language, which is less and less available now because so many people have been trained in English that national speakers are taking those jobs instead of expatriate speakers, which may cost more to the local institution that is doing TOEFL.

Another one is tourism and travel consultancy, and those kinds of things seem easy to start or to get into, but are actually very challenging to excel in. I am not in favor of people opening up a travel agency or a travel consultancy agency and not actually doing the work of generating hundreds and thousands of room nights and tourism visitors in their travel consultancy, less accessible perhaps to the American or Western contract worker. Are those with higher skill levels in educational requirements in engineering or technology or finance? Certainly skilled laborers working in certified white collar positions of management are significant and important in almost any international company. There are a few situations in which someone who is very skilled in a particular labor type of job, whether that be construction or electrical work or plumbing or any of the trades, might find some work in some of these countries.

In fact, it's kind of funny from our side of the water to see the state of some of those trades in some of the countries and strategic areas where our people would go, they may not even have the right kinds of supply of materials and history of doing things in the best way in order to accommodate that kind of a job. There are possibilities opening up for people who are qualified to be a business consultant or those working with a variety of different kinds of relief organizations for humanitarian purposes, a wide variety sometimes in high security or dangerous situations. There are other possibilities in the airline industry and in other kinds of consultancy for shorter term leadership of startup companies in countries that need development of mining or manufacturing or oil field production. I would say that it's easy to kind of fuzz or gray out the line between a contract worker and a missionary because if they're going with a missionary purpose in mind, they need to be concerned about what rules, regulations, local laws, and culture would allow them to do or prevent them from doing.

With regard to ministry. Often we think of a missionary as someone who is especially called and trained for long-term ministry in an area where they're contributing to church planting and leadership development of churches in such a way that they have that ministry as their primary focus. However, in the world of business as mission and contract workers, that line can sometimes get grayed or fuzzed out a little bit. Certainly our Christian friends working overseas need special prayer and encouragement to stick with it. However, most contract jobs only are offered on the basis of several years at a time. It is challenging for the Christian worker living overseas to be master of their schedule. The work may be very demanding. It may be high pressure and take more time than just an eight hour day. Their weekends may be shorter because of the local culture. They also have to live and they have to live in an environment that is cross-cultural and have other linguistic considerations.

They may not speak the local language well or find it a challenge to operate in a local language and culture situation. So think back to some of those original questions. Make sure that you or your friend interested in contract work for the sake of Christ. Ask the right kind of questions to have the right expectations. This is one of the primary principles of avoiding fallout or dropout or attrition in the missionary workforce, and that is developing accurate, realistic expectations before you go so that when you go, you're not disappointed, disillusioned, discouraged and drop out idealism and the spirit of adventure can blind someone to the very real personal cost of loneliness, isolation challenges to even their own faith in the process of living overseas. Another consideration that should be mentioned is the issue of singleness in the contract work situation. Often western single people overseas don't realize the pressure that they're going to have.

For girls, it's a pressure to get married to a local, whether or not they're a Christian. I've known lots and lots of single gals who could count up the number of times that they have been approached, whether in a salacious moral kind of way, or in a straightforward proposition for marriage kind of way, for people that might be confused in their motives with regard to marrying a blue passport, that is to getting a ticket to America somehow. Guys have similar but different kinds of temptations. Most other cultures have at least an underground view of morality that is not at all biblical, and sometimes it's right out on the surface just blatant immorality everywhere you turn, and the temptations can be stronger than the guys resolve to walk in a holy and pure way in that culture. So the conclusion of this little bit is that if you have any kind of a problem with moral purity in your home country in the west, then don't take a contract employment as a single on your own overseas.

There are whole segments of Christian organizations that are trying to encourage people to do this kind of thing in the name of Christ, go work wherever you are and just live as a Christian. I want to tell you that it's not as easy as it sounds, and there are plenty of opportunities for people that are trained properly and committed to the right kinds of priorities to actually serve in that way. Yet on the other hand, there are lots of opportunities for pitfalls and problems. If you're not committed to having the proper kinds of qualifications to stay long-term and have a long-term resident witness for Christ in that situation, then maybe you need to reconsider or maybe you need to get more training and preparation to qualify you to be effective for Christ in that contract. Work overseas, and if you're married and if you're married and have children, then the issues compound.

You have so many other things to think about with regard to the isolation potential of your wife overseas or your husband. If you are the contract worker, as the wife, the children and the children's safety and education and all of those things are major considerations for your taking a contract to serve in another country. So take seriously the words of Christ regarding the cost of discipleship. He says in Luke 14:26 and following, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you desiring to build. A tower does not first sit down and count the cost whether he has enough to complete it. Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish all who see it, begin to mock him saying, this man began to build and was not able to finish.

Or what king going out to encounter another king in war will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with 10,000 to meet him who comes against him with 20,000, and if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has, cannot be my disciple. Jesus is just telling us practical wisdom here, that when we commit to move forward, we need to count the cost before we begin. And that's my appeal to us today for those that are considering contract work overseas for the sake of Christ. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

Comments (0)

Please login to comment.

Register for an account