Ask The UMC: How many missionaries are there?
"Missionaries serve as agents of God’s transformation. They do not go and fix problems on behalf of others — they go to be in ministry with the local community. They go to learn, listen and serve as witnesses of God’s transforming grace and power," says Judy Chung, executive director of Missionary Service for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
"United Methodist missionaries are engaged in a variety of ministries as teachers, farmers, educators, doctors, accountants, community developers, volunteer coordinators, pilots, nurses, professors, administrators and more. They serve the needs of the community as identified by local leaders as key priorities. And they cross many boundaries to dedicate their lives and the lives of their families to be in mission," she said.
People called to missionary service through Global Ministries must meet some basic requirements. These include being a professing Christian, having the appropriate education and experience for the position, and the willingness to serve. They usually (not always) serve outside their country of origin.
When commissioned for service, an anchor cross is placed around the necks of the missionaries. The anchor cross is an early Christian symbol that serves as a reminder that we are firmly grounded in Christ while engaging in God’s mission.
In 2018, 68 young adults from 24 countries were commissioned to serve as Global Mission Fellows, a two-year mission service opportunity, and 15 new missionaries were commissioned for long-term mission service.
Interested in becoming a missionary? Learn about service opportunities and which one may be right for you.
Video series: I Am a Missionary
This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications. First published Feb. 12, 2019.