Can I become a missionary even though my family still has unbelievers?

“Maintain a relationship with them, but trust God with timing and response.”

When Linda and I were planning to join WEC, we were the first believers in our respective families. Our parents didn’t want us to go overseas for a lot of reasons. Many others suggested we should stay to witness to our families, which we had already been doing.

We knew what God wanted. We really felt we couldn’t say, “God, I won’t do what you want me to do, so now will you please do what I want and save my family?” We went to Guinea-Bissau where we were in an 8,000-square-mile area where there had never been a resident Christian witness.

While there we prayed regularly for our families and in our letters (this was before email) we shared what God was doing in the lives of those coming to Jesus. Our parents had not wanted to talk about Jesus, but they eagerly read our letters, especially when we mentioned their granddaughter.

Fast forward years later. God brought us back to America, and we were able to lead two of our parents to the Lord, and indirectly help the other two. We also saw siblings converted. In fact there is only one still outside the fold.

Bottom line: When we are concerned with God’s concerns, he takes care of ours.

Answer from David Smith, 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.

“Following Christ will be a testimony.”

Going to the missions field and leaving home can be a huge ministry to the ones you leave at home. They will see the reason you are leaving, the Glory of God. It is also important to follow God’s direction and will for your life so that your family can see the reason for the hope you have in Christ, that you are alive and living for him. 

Even if your family is against you entering the field, pray for their hearts to be softened to the idea and that they may see and understand salvation through your obedience to God. Be certain that they understand this is not something you are doing to make others proud, but for the name and renown of Christ, and the love for the people God has placed on your heart to serve as a missionary.

Answer from Shannon, who served with Mercy Ships in West Africa.

“Share Jesus with those at home, but know they may not respond.”

It’s true that people who haven’t trusted Christ for salvation can be found in families of believers and even in regions or nations that have a large percentage of believers. These unbelievers have access to the gospel; they can and often do hear about Jesus, but don’t follow him. Other places may have only one believer for every 10,000 unbelievers with little or no witness. They have much less access to the gospel. 

Few would go into missions without first sharing Christ with those who are closest, unbelievers in their circle of family and friends. We can’t make them know or embrace the truth. But we can continue to live obediently and follow the example and commands of Christ. 

As you pursue missions, trust the Lord to bring his good work to completion as you live a life that seeks to bring glory to him and draw people to him, wherever you are.

Answer from TK, who is heading to Ireland to serve with Greater Europe Mission.

Scroll to Top