BLOG: Counting the cost

This article is part of our series, ‘What’s stopping you?’, where we explore the barriers to getting involved in overseas mission and how God is at work in the midst of them.

Following God’s call to overseas mission is one of the most rewarding, life-giving things you can do. However, it can also involve making painful, personal sacrifices. There are heavy costs involved, and it’s so important to be prepared for them. In Mark 8:34-35 (NIV), Jesus said:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Carrying your cross

One of the biggest sacrifices involved in going overseas is the physical distance from your family and friends. I vividly remember the pain I felt when saying goodbye to my family at the airport at the start of my first mission trip. Walking away from them, knowing I wouldn’t see them again for a year, was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done. Instant messaging and video calls make this a lot easier than it was for missionaries of the past, but it’s still painful to give up physical closeness to your loved ones.

Another lesser-known sacrifice is the loss of sense of identity that often comes with culture shock. You know where you fit within your own cultural context and community. These things give you an understanding of who you are, as do your relationships, career, and ministries. Giving up these things can be disorientating as you need to rediscover yourself and your place in a completely new context. Sometimes it can even feel like you have two different lives!

There can be many other sacrifices too, depending on where you are called to go. In some contexts, you may need to give up comfort and convenience to live simply. For some, singleness can be a cost of going overseas as they struggle to find potential partners in their contexts.

There will be an element of loss wherever you go. It’s important to remember that the loss you feel is normal and you can and should grieve those losses.

God of all comfort

God knows our pain more than we do, and He longs to comfort us and be close to us in the midst of it all. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV), Paul tells us:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Sacrifice of praise

Alongside the sacrifices, there is so much to be gained through going on overseas mission. Just as you lose something of yourself in giving up cultural contexts and communities, you gain so much in discovering your place in new ones! Particularly in the Arab world, where people are so hospitable and it’s common for families to welcome you in as one of their own. There’s so much joy to be found in making new friendships, and you learn so much about life and yourself in discovering a new culture. It is through these friendships that you will likely play your part in seeing people come to faith and grow in their discipleship.

The sacrifices of long-term mission are huge, but it’s so worth it to follow God’s calling on your life. Jesus gave up everything for us through the agony of the cross to bring about the overwhelming joy of the resurrection. So, we too must give up everything that He requires of us to play our part in bringing the good news of His resurrection to those who have yet to hear it.

Maybe you feel a sense of calling to mission but are worried about the challenges that could be involved. We would love to hear from you wherever you’re at, and to pray with and support you however we can. Why not chat to one of our mission mobilisers? Get in touch with Ben.

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