Have you ever wondered what it would be like to leave your family and everything you know behind to go share the gospel with people overseas? Arabah Joy knows, because that’s exactly what she and her family did 14 years ago!
Today, I’ve invited her to share more about her life and what it’s like to be a missionary overseas. Enjoy!
1. Tell us about your current work as a missionary in Asia. What do you do? How do you help?
My husband and I are church planters. We work in a large Asian city helping local believers start new churches. Our roles have changed over the 14 years we’ve lived overseas but church planting is where our heart is.
2. What made you decide to become a missionary?
You know, becoming a Christian means becoming a disciple and a disciple follows his or her master. We don’t get to pick and choose how God uses us. We don’t get to choose our ministry. We like to think we are in control of our lives but we aren’t. What we get to do is serve the Master, follow His leading, and lay down our lives. And that’s how Jackson and I ended up on the mission field.
3. How have your missionary work and travels around the globe impacted your family?
I wonder the same thing! We live the life of a third culture family which means we are pretty much out of place wherever we go. Third culture folks will know what I mean when I say that. I think this has been one of the more difficult things to deal with–not really fitting in anywhere and knowing our kids will always be a bit out of place. My kids know nothing about American pop culture or everyday things like central air/heat. They don’t have a backyard and we don’t have a car. They don’t know their grandparents or aunts and uncles. They don’t attend a school with other Americans. It’s just a different world for them than what most Americans experience. And that’s okay but it means we are strange!
4. How is attending church there the same/different as attending church at home in the States?
Well, since we are in the position of church planters, most of our time overseas has been without a church for us to actually attend because we are working on evangelizing folks and organizing them into a core group for a church to be started. Most of the time, we have done house church at home with just our family. We currently are living in a big city where there is an international fellowship and we attend that each week. Even so, there are no paid staff, no outreaches, no events… just a time of singing and exhortation around the Word of God. One of the things I miss the most is real, deep church community in my heart language (English!).
5. How do you have time to be a missionary, take care of a family, run a successful blog AND write books?
I definitely do not balance well or juggle things well. I tend to get very focused on one particular role/project at a time. So if I am working on a writing project, that becomes a season of writing until I’m done. Then I can focus on other things or roles. My husband is very supportive and he believes in my gifts and callings (sometimes more than I do!) If I sense the Lord leading me in a certain direction, we talk about it and what it will take to get it done. Then he helps relieve other responsibilities until that season is over. One thing I have learned is that there is a time for everything…and no season can hold everything.
6. What advice would you give to those who want to reach the lost who can’t move across the world to become an overseas missionary?
The lost are all around us, even in our own homes. There is nothing glamorous about being an overseas missionary. Each one of us has the potential to be the aroma of Christ in every place we go. When we look for, pray for, and expect those opportunities, our eyes are opened to the spiritual work we each are called to. In fact, we are each called to glorify God in everything we do, whether it be eating, drinking, blogging, taking a neighbor a meal, taking turns in the car pool, or anything else we do. Every day we have the INCREDIBLE privilege of doing the most menial things unto the Lord. These everyday things can become extraordinary gateways for sharing Christ when we do them for the glory of God.
That being said, I have found it takes some intentionality to actually share Christ. I have written about how I do this in everyday life here: 20+ Personal Ways to Share the Gospel.
I encourage everyone to just start with a simple plan. Maybe what trips you up is starting a spiritual conversation. Have a plan to help you move past that obstacle (and see my article above). Or maybe you need to learn a simple gospel presentation. There are many out there, so find one that works. Or perhaps you just need a way to encounter more lost people. Prayerfully take this before the Lord and let Him direct you in this as well. I can promise you He’s happy to show you the way! Don’t allow yourself to get stuck because “stuck” then becomes habit which becomes lifestyle which is why so many Christians fail to ever share their faith with an unbeliever. Let’s change that!
7. Is there anything else you’d like to add or that people should know?
As a final word, I’d like to simply exhort my brothers and sisters to grow in their understanding of the gospel. The gospel isn’t just for unbelievers, it’s for us as Christians as well. The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is empowering, enabling, and life transforming. Understanding and daily considering concepts such as justification, sanctification, redemption, and consecration have done more for me as a believer than any amount of sermons, Bible study groups, workbooks, and the like could ever do. Eating at the table of grace is what’s kept me on the field and kept me nourished in difficult, lonely times. This is the only hope I have at offering anything of value to my family, community, readers, or anyone else. The gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16). So let’s cling to it. And let’s spread it all around the world.
Interested in learning more about being a missionary? Ask your questions below!
Arabah Joy is wife to Jackson, adoptive and biological mom to 4 little ones, and missionary to East Asia. Her adventures span far and wide, from eating pig snouts to giving birth in three different Asian countries. Mostly though, she is a broken woman redeemed by grace. She has written several books including the 40 day devotional, Trust Without Borders. You can find out more and connect with her at ArabahJoy.com.
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