How to find a missions agency
By Timothy Nomwesigwa Babweteera
Many of you have come to the realization that God is inviting you to join him in bringing the Great Commission to fulfilment. You are excited and thrilled. But like me, reality is setting in.
Questions are coming up from everywhere: Should I actually go? Who are these remaining peoples? Where are they? How do I even get there (maybe you have never even crossed the border of your country)? How will I survive when I get there?
And so the task becomes daunting, and unfortunately we lose many potential missionaries and mobilisers in Africa at this point. They have no idea how to progress, and that’s where many have concluded missions isn’t for us (Africans) but for them (Americans or Europeans). But that’s when mission agencies come in to bridge that gap, to bring to actualization your heart to see the nations reached.
Missions agencies are bridge-building specialists.
Mission agencies help you answer these questions. Their experience on the field with successes and failures means they know where the least-reached people are and how to get trained, prepared and raise support. Mission agencies are bridge-building specialists who help you get from where you are to people without the gospel. They may be just the answer to your prayer.
But how do I find a missions agency suitable for me? Write to a missionary who has been through the process or ask a trusted pastor or professor. In some countries, mission mobilisers are available to guide you. The type of agency you look for will depend on your need.
How do you tell if a missions agency is good?
- An agency should have some experience in the place it’s serving. It should also have a commitment to help its missionaries that is exemplified with love and genuine concern for them, a faithfulness and consistency to the mission task, clear lines of communication, and clear strategy and vision.
- Sharing the vision of the agency is important. Their vision shouldn’t be a human vision, lest it becomes a self-seeking, self-glorifying, inward-looking cult; it should be a God vision that stirs passion for His glory. You can tell that an agency has a God vision if they work well with other organizations and seek out partnerships. This shows they acknowledge the magnitude of the work, whose work it belongs to, and the universal community of believers.
- Mission agencies don’t reach people; missionaries reach people. Thus, an agency’s priority should be its missionaries – their preparation, training and ongoing care. A missions agency should cultivate a culture of friendship among its missionaries. You could go independently with a travel agency but mission agencies uniquely offer community which benefits you holistically in areas of psychological and spiritual health, accountability and encouragement. Without this community of fellowship, frustration is easy, accountability becomes controlling and the roles easily turn from the agency serving the missionaries (who serve the unreached) to the missionaries serving the organization.
- I personally recommend field-driven agencies because they are often in tune with the needs of the missionaries and the work in the field; therefore, they are often flexible, understanding and come up with better field strategies.
- Finally, you need to feel a sense of affinity or connection with this agency, and this can happen if you take short trips with them.
This list of qualities to look for is not exhaustive, but it can start you on your search for a mission agency. Other questions to consider include their emergency protocols and your children’s education. Usually organizations have policies that you may want to review.
Through the ages, mission agencies have taken different forms, but they have always been instrumental in revitalizing and nourishing established churches while planting new ones where they are. History tells us that there hasn’t been a significant move of the gospel into new areas and peoples without a certain structure – in our time, called a mission agency– that is separate, yet connected, to the local churches. In the early church, these were apostolic teams such as Paul and Barnabas. Later, missionary bands and monastic orders carried the cross-cultural vision forward. Today, mission teams and agencies do so.
To join an agency is to make a commitment that will not only challenge your faith and lead to deeper places of growth and devotion but also will challenge your home church to exercise their missionary responsibility, bringing the worship of God among the nations. Just like me, finding the right agency may be the answer to fulfilling your growing conviction of reaching the unreached and obedience to His call.
Timothy Babweteera Nomwesigwa is a missionary serving among the Dodoth and Ik people in northeastern Uganda. He also serves as national director for The Frontier Mission Team (FMT), a Ugandan indigenous mission agency. Contact him at timothy@ thefrontiermissionteam.org.