By Paula Schlueter Ross
If you have a “heart for service” and you can speak English, LCMS World Mission would love to talk to you about missionary service.
More than 200 opportunities to serve in some 30 countries are available. Among those needed are music and early childhood teachers, doctors and nurses, computer and finance specialists, and agricultural and construction workers.
But the largest number of openings are for those who can simply converse with people who want to practice their English skills: U.S. Lutherans who are willing to share their faith as they build relationships with people across the globe.
“Anyone can serve,” says Jennifer Mustard, placement counselor for short-term service with LCMS World Mission. Having “a heart for service” and “a heart for people” is “the main thing,” she says.
That sentiment is shared by Erin Alter, the mission board’s placement counselor for long-term service, who says “ordinary people can have an impact” because “God works through them to accomplish His mission.”
Lynette Lierman, a banker from Omaha, Neb., believes God called her to service. Lierman, 27, had never experienced overseas mission work before she signed up for a 10-day mission trip last April with her congregation, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Omaha. On the trip, she taught English in Hong Kong, mostly to high-school students, and ended up serving an extra week.
A few weeks after she returned home, Lierman says she “committed to spend one year as a missionary in Hong Kong” and began working toward that goal — raising prayer and financial support and eventually giving notice at her banking job.
She has been serving since mid-August as an English teacher in schools operated by The Lutheran Church–Hong Kong Synod, an LCMS partner church body, and says her short-term service, where she “had the chance to experience and understand what a mission would look like,” was “a big part of my decision to come.”
“The short-term missions give individuals the chance to do their part to spread the news of Jesus to the children of Hong Kong in a quick, yet intimate, setting,” Lierman told Reporter via e-mail. “We had each formed a close bond to many individual students before we left. It’s a rewarding experience for the individual, as well as an incredible benefit to the schools here.”
Lierman, who serves four schools, teaching English to students in first through 12th grade as well as leading weekend Bible studies and other activities, says first-grade enrollment at one school has increased by 70 percent, and, at another, 30 percent.
“The Lord provided us [LCMS English teachers] to these schools, and He provided us with an amazing reassurance in numbers,” she said. “Now 70 percent more first-graders will spend the next six years of their lives learning about Jesus.”
Lierman believes “more people should pray about becoming missionaries. It was eye-opening to me to see the way that missionaries can be used around the world.
“Just being able to speak English is enough for us to help expand His kingdom.”
Lierman also received training from LCMS World Mission — including cultural information and lesson planning — before she arrived on the mission field, as do all Synod missionaries.
Alter says LCMS missionaries like Lierman, who offer their English-language skills along with their faith in God, are “having a significant impact on the efforts of the Hong Kong Synod to use these schools to reach out to the community with the Gospel.”
Mustard adds, “If this is what God is calling you to do, now is the time to start the application process.”
- short-term mission teams that can serve 10 to 14 days.
- short-term missionaries, who can serve from one to six months.
- long-term missionaries, who can serve one to two years.
“We want to send LCMS Christians out into the world to be serving and sharing the Good News,” says Alter. “And there really are so many types of positions that there’s a good chance we can match most people up with something that’s going to be a good fit for their unique gifts and abilities.”
Summer — when school is out and workers have vacation time — is a popular time for service, “but we do have needs throughout the year,” notes Mustard, particularly in April, October, and November.
Those times “are often beautiful times to travel around the world,” she said, “so I encourage people to think outside the box in that way.”
“We need people,” Mustard adds. “God has chosen to work through people to share his message of hope and salvation, and so we need those people to go out into the world. It’s His chosen way to work, and so we need to respond to that.”
For more information about mission service, visit www.lcmsworldmission.org/service or call LCMS World Mission at 800-433-3954 and ask to speak to a placement counselor.
Posted Feb. 10, 2010