Our Executive Director, Larry McCrary, corresponded recently with Melissa Fu to get deeper insight into the beauty of using your vocation cross-culturally intentionally on mission.
This conversation is an excellent example of the stories & experiences which motivated Larry's forthcoming book,
Essential Relationships Between the Sending Church, Marketplace Worker,
and Missionary Team
set to release later this year!
How do you anticipate work life and ministry goals can be balanced to fit into your limited schedule? Do you see these things as competing or complementary parts of life?
Melissa || Having now been a marketplace professional overseas for nearly 10 years now, for me, it all has to be complementary, natural, and a holistic approach. This means the challenges of balancing work and life outside of work are the same as any other person--and God still has to be in all of it.
Sure, I am involved in a few formal ministry activities with different groups, but the bulk of my "ministry" and "calling" is just life, my day-to-day rhythms and interactions in which God places me. I have learned so many beautiful lessons about God's tendency to break our culturally Christian paradigms, labels, and categories, and work in surprising, transversal ways that in the U.S. wouldn't be labeled as "missions," but are clearly part of His missio Dei.
What are some pros and cons to remaining in the marketplace? What opportunities might be available to you that aren’t available to a traditional sent one?
Melissa || The biggest pro for me has been credibility with my friends and colleagues. My relationships have deepened so drastically in this past decade in comparison with my previous three years here with a traditional sending organization. While those initial years definitely provided a great foundation, being in the marketplace and really being able to "incarnate" fully has been such a blessing and has taken my relationships to an entirely different level. Those around me now see me as one of them, someone who loves this country and who is committed to living life just like any other local, challenges and all. That perception my friends and colleagues have--an absolute gift from the Lord--allows me to have natural, almost daily conversations about faith, worldview, and certainly life in general.
How would you encourage others with a similar vision to invest their time in development?Apart from the obvious priority of clinging fiercely to the Lord and staying close to Him, for me, it is critical to know yourself and understand how God has gifted and wired you to serve Him in the workplace, wherever you are. Try new things; develop your interests and skills; get training; network in your sector. BE EXCELLENT and invest in your career.
I fear people refer to "business on mission" exclusively as that idea of going to start a coffeehouse in a "closed country" in order to share the gospel, in spite of the fact that you may have no previous restaurant or retail experience. You don't have to start a business in which you have no background or interest, or take a random job as an excuse to live incarnationally in a country. God may call some people to do that, but He can also call you to be who you are and maintain your profession because that is an asset He is going to use. And that WILL give you access to markets all around the world, legitimately and in perfect alignment with your profile.
Really consider what career God would have you pursue as part of your professional development. If that's your background and gifting, it will carry a lot more weight with those around you and can make a huge impact on your professional sector even without your knowing it.
Interested in leveraging your vocation for mission in a cross-cultural context?
Click below to start the conversation how Upstream can help equip you to take next steps.