Question about Mission Agencies for missionaries:
"I am years away from finishing my education. When should I start to look at agencies?"
"Go on mission trips with an agency now."
Start investigating possible agencies now. Check out their websites to see where they are serving and in what sort of ministries they're involved. Try a short-term mission trip with your agency of choice to see how it would be to work with them. Also, if you can attend an orientation session prior to graduation you may be able to start support raising at graduation.
"First talk with your church."
This is not an issue with which you deal with alone. The first step is to submit yourself to your church leadership according to Acts 13:1-4. As you discuss and pray with your local church leaders, the Holy Spirit will direct you, through confirmations and agreement, toward your role in missions. With this direction in focus, you can begin to look for agencies that serve that way.
Another good step would be to read the book I Think God Wants Me to Be a Missionary.
"Yes, invite coaching now."
It is good to begin the exploration early. A good mission agency will want to develop a relationship with you, not simply look at a form and give a thumbs up or thumbs down, and deploy you. During your university years they can give advice on experiences that can help prepare. If an agency simply says, "Call us back when you're out," obviously they're not seeking that sort of relationship and are not as likely to walk with you as you explore your future.
The agency I'm with first met us when I was a student. We ended up going to the field with them nine years later. They walked with us all those years in discerning God's will and exploring options. They gave no pressure, just a genuine desire to help us go where and when God chose.
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