Question about Professional Skills for missionaries:
"I am in engineering. How could I use this in missions?"
Lawrence was basically a missionary engineer; he used his engineering through a mission organization. Look into Engineering Ministries International to explore going this route. EMI supports missions and indigenous ministries in developing countries by sending engineers, architects, and related design professionals on project trips to design facilities such as orphanages, medical centers, and clean water projects.
Some relief and development ministries, such as World Vision and World Concern World Concern, also seek people like you with technical know-how.
You can also use your engineering skills as "tentmaker." A tentmaker is a bi-vocational missionary who may be self-supporting financially, but whose main purpose is to be in a cross-cultural context for the purpose of sharing the gospel. If this is your interest, you might begin by contacting Global Intent. They list as their goal: "to mobilize and equip missions-committed Christians to serve abroad as effective tentmakers, especially in countries of greatest spiritual need." They claim they can find jobs for almost anyone.
Editor's Note: See also Missionary TECH Team, an organization that exclusively does technical and design support for other ministries all over the world.
After several years I decided that the opportunities for the traditional, "full-time" missionary were so great that I left my engineering job. In many countries, where doors for traditional missions work are less open, I would have kept it. Even here, I still work (in another job) part-time so that I can honestly tell people that I'm an English teacher and translator, rather that saying, "I'm a missionary." What most Catholics here hear when you say that is, "After I've finished destroying your culture, I'd like to help you change your religion to that of my non-Christian cult."
Have a job you can explain helps others relate to you. And that helps you build relationships and share your faith.
But I would caution you against going before you have had a chance to build a support network back home through your church and also to get some training.
We work in a primitive area and the jungle mountains of Irian Jaya have no roads at all. My engineering training came in very handy in planning and supervising jungle airstrips for Missionary Aviation Fellowship and other mission planes to use. We also put in a small hydroelectric power plant. Many other things we have done or helped other missionaries do were made easier by that engineering training!
Many missionaries, obviously, do not have such skills, so it is very good to have someone with such a background in various fields. Effective missionary work involves a lot of partnership.
Talk to various mission agencies and information sharing services about opportunities to use your training, directly. If the Lord does not open up something along those lines, choose to work in some significant spiritual ministry in some less developed area of the world. There will inevitably be opportunities to use your training, even if you do not use it constantly or extensively.
I always encourage those involved in engineering or mathematics fields to consider Bible translation. The same analytical skills used in those fields are vital for Bible translation, which I consider one of the most significant ministries of all! What can we do that is more significant than providing God's Word for the first time for a whole people group or language group?! God can continue to use his Word within that group, with or without missionaries!
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