Read our interview with Ryan, a missionary working with us in the Middle East, to see what drew him to mission, what challenges he faced, and what advice he has for those interested in mission work.
Where are you from and where are you living now?
My wife and I are from Connecticut and California and we are just in the process of moving from one country in the Middle East to a new country in the region.
Have you always worked where you are now, or have you worked other places as well?
We met at Biola University in California and at that time we were already planning on moving to the Middle East. Before heading to the field, we spent two years living and working in ministry in Brazil, and then two more years in ministry in Connecticut.
What drew you to mission work?
I first sensed a call to full-time ministry when I was 14 years old and I had good mentors at church who helped to shape that into a specific direction. At 16 years old I went to the Middle East as an exchange student and during that time I made a commitment to return to the Middle East full time. There were many steps in that journey, but during one week of my time as a student in the Middle East I encountered a ministry ship that had docked in the harbor of the city where I was living. That event had a particularly significant impact on my decision to return to the Middle East.
My wife, Ness, was first introduced to the idea of serving in the Middle East through her friendship with me, but she had also pursued her own journey to missions through the Student Missionary Union at the university.
What vocational skills are you using as part of your mission work and how did you develop those skills?
I am using preaching and teaching and writing skills that I learned at the universities where I have studied. Besides that,I am using coffee skills that I have developed through self-study and some training courses. And I am using business skills that I have developed through experience, trial, and error.
What obstacles did you feel you faced going into mission and how did you overcome them?
I generally felt empowered and sent by the community around me, but there was an initial anxiety about finances. Trusting in God’s provision, slowly building support relationships with people and churches, and finding creative ways to raise and earn funds helped to overcome that obstacle.
What advice would you give to people considering mission work?
There are many things to say here, but some of the pieces of advice that stand out are:
1) Build good relationships with home churches.
2) As you think about where to serve consider the kinds of needs that you will contribute toward meeting in the place where you will serve.
3) Consider the status of unreached peoples and the areas of deepest need.
4) Consider with whom you will serve. Team is an essential part of long term fruitful ministry.