How could I use an education degree in missions?

“Many missions organizations need special education teachers.”

I am a trained Special Education Teacher, living and working in Zambia. Our ministry, Special Hope Network, serves children with intellectual disabilities and their families. While living here, we have met and worked with World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, and many other smaller organizations that don’t have staff trained to meet the needs of children who have special needs.

They call us to help them when they are out in a village and find a child who has an intellectual disability and incredible need, whether educational, medical, or otherwise.

An additional need is for missionary families who give birth or adopt children with intellectual disabilities. They need help in order to complete the service they are on the mission field to do. This is a constant need, and families greatly struggle to meet their own family’s needs and do their missions work.

We have seen a need for anything from educational support, to testing, tutoring, one-on-one help in a national school, and even a homeschooling break for hardworking parent. These have each been needs of friends of ours here in Lusaka.

As a trained teacher, you are incredibly well-suited to support any missions organization, and help them in an area where there is a gap. As a special education teacher you would be one of the only SPED teachers in an entire country.

Your use for God’s kingdom is potentially quite amazing, especially if you are willing to serve the neediest of the special needs population, those who are severely and profoundly disabled. We have enough work for three lifetimes, so your usefulness can be happily promised (at least by our limited experience here in Zambia)!¬†

Glad you asked. Please do use your teaching expertise to serve God’s kingdom!

Answer from Holly who has served with Special Hope Network in Zambia for eight years.

“Teach missionary kids in a school or as a tutor.”

My wife and I are both teachers. The way that we got into missions was at an ACSI Association of Christian Schools International convention we were both attending.

There we found dozens of schools desperate for teachers willing to work on the mission field teaching the children of missionaries. In fact, lack of educational resources for children is the number one reason many missionaries leave the field.

Contact ACSI and inquire about the international schools that need teachers. Some agencies not only send teachers to such schools but also place teachers with missionary families, or hire traveling tutors.

Wycliffe, SIM International, TEAM, and our mission, Latin America Mission, all send out teachers and can also find a place for you to work. 

Be encouraged. Teaching is a great way to reach people because you are meeting their physical and emotional needs as well as their spiritual ones. My wife and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Answer from George, serving in Costa Rica with Latin America Mission.

“Help missionaries stay on the field.”

One of the big challenges that missionaries on the field face is that of providing education for their kids (MKs). It can be so frustrating that some valuable people have to return home because they do not have the skills to home school (or, if they do, may find that these responsibilities overshadow their ministry purpose).

Some missionaries choose to send older children away to boarding school because of the lack of qualified teachers nearby.

You can provide invaluable assistance by being there to help educate these MKs. Wycliffe and other groups almost always need teachers. I know that Operation Mobilization has teachers on their traveling ministry ships. I have a friend who has taught MKs in Egypt (with students from more than one sending agency) and she regards her work as vital to their overall mission of spreading the gospel.

Realize that in addition to your teaching schedule, you can be sharing the gospel, through friendship evangelism or other means, in whatever county you serve. And your service goes far beyond teaching. You may be the only Bible that some people “read!”

Answer from Rob, who has served for four years with Operation Mobilization.

“You could work in a public school, but consider the obstacles.”

In some African countries you could probably easily get a job teaching school in the national system, with a salary at the same rate someone from that country would receive (likely much less than you would receive at home, or require to live on, with the expenses you would have as an expat). Similar situations may be found in Europe, Latin America, Asia. 

Do many of these positions involve being part of a mission agency? No. In most cases you would also be doing a job a national Christian could do. Even if a mission were willing to have you do it, it might be difficult to persuade supporters you were doing something they would wish to finance. So be sure to look at other options.

Answer from David, director of mobilization with WEC International. David has been a missionary twenty-five years as a field worker in West Africa and at WEC USA headquarters.

“Different answers for different places.”

I’m sure the answer to this question will vary according to where you feel you are called (as far as being able to teach national children). Probably in most countries you could get a job teaching English quite easily, though maybe not in a public school.

Please don’t discount teaching MKs (missionary kids), as this would not only give you a legitimate reason for being on the field and, in most cases, plenty of opportunity to minister to nationals in your free time, but would also possibly enable other families to stay on the field who would otherwise go home due to problems schooling their children.

Answer from Lori in Asia.

“Education opens up the world.”

Being an educator can open up the unreached world for you. The greatest needs are in this area! You can probably go to any country in the 10/40 window as an educator. 

But take time to prepare yourself ministerially, first. Too many people go unprepared. Finding a job is the easy part; being effective in ministry is the tough part.

Answer from Ari, who served for six years in Asia and North Africa and then became International Director of Global Intent.

“Serve overseas in an orphanage.”

Serve abandoned or orphaned children, from infants to teens, in Christian childcare facilities around the world. Volunteers are needed to help with a variety of tasks, including child care, medical and dental services, construction, administration, and teaching. 

Christian Orphanages¬†has link to 150 such Christian facilities. The search engine can take you directly to countries or types of ministry in which you may be interested, or take advantage of the “Ask Us” service to obtain personalized assistance. Special thanks to the web folks at¬†Mission Finder.

Answer from the AskAMissionary staff.

“Great Commission opportunities abound for educators.”

I serve as the Director of Mobilization for Teach Beyond, a mission that focuses on Great-Commission-focused educational initiatives. We are overwhelmed by the number of ever-increasing opportunities for educators to serve in a variety of roles around the world. 

Serving at a school geared towards missionary kids helps many missionary families stay overseas and can also “release” existing missionaries from the temporary positions they needed to fill at the school.

There are also a countless number of opening at schools that use education as an outreach to establish or develop the church in their region. Many of these schools are in limited-access countries where you’d have the opportunity to teach students who may have never met a believer.

In addition to the K-12 teaching opportunities, there are also needs for educators to be working with adults in theological education, teacher education, and EFL. It has been so exciting to see how God is using education in the work of foreign missions. Thus, if you are an educator and wondering if your degree/experience is needed in missions, I’d encourage you to take the next step of exploring the countless opportunities you’d have to make an impact for the sake of the Great Commission.

Answer from Michael, who has served with TeachBeyond in Germany and the United States for ten years.

“Serve in a Christian school.”

A degree in education is a great tool to serve in missions. There are many Christian schools around the world that are offering monolingual or bilingual instruction to their students.

In a Christian school, the recruitment of qualified teachers is a real challenge, because it is not only a question of finding a certified teacher but also one who is a mature Christian and who loves God enough to invest in the kingdom of God using his or her gifts and abilities. 

One option to serve in the Caribbean is Doulos Discovery School. It is a Christian school located in the mountainous area of the Dominican Republic where many people do not have the opportunity of a good education.

The mission of the school is “educating and equipping servant leaders through Christian discipleship and expeditionary learning to impact the Dominican Republic.”

Answer from Cesar in Dominican Republic, who has served with Doulos Discovery School in Dominican Republic for two years.

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