Then Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Matt.16:24 NIV). With these words, Jesus made it clear that being a follower of Christ involves self-denial.

While it is true that all Christians must deny themselves to some extent, those called to be missionaries must exercise a great deal more self-denial than the average church goer. Not only do their career prospects suffer while they spend time overseas, but many are called to work in third-world countries, where things we take for granted in the west, are either in short supply or virtually unobtainable.

Many missionaries have to contend with such things as; lack of proper sanitation, water supplies that fall well short of western standards, and a scarcity of medical resources. Surrounded by poverty and squalor, crime is very often rampant, with a general lack of security due to an understaffed police force. Such are the problems that come with living in a third-world country.

Few countries welcome missionaries as such, but in most cases they are tolerated because of other skills which they possess. As a result, few missionaries are granted permanent residence overseas, and in most cases the time comes when the missionaries, have to return home and resume their careers. Many families find this readjustment difficult.

Not all people are called to be missionaries, but in supporting those who are, we all have the opportunity to share in their work.

Ian Carlson