Can we become missionaries if we have some health problems?

“Probably. Even some disabled persons are missionaries.”

Years ago missions were very limited to healthy, young people. Anyone over thirty need not apply. Today, the mission world values the maturity that accompanies age and infirmity, so they accept retirees, second-career professionals, and even disabled persons are welcomed. 

I know disabled missionaries working in third-world countries. For example, a wheelchair-bound young woman works in a small Senegalese town and a man paralyzed from the waist down serves in South America.

I also know of people whose children had life-threatening diseases and they still served effectively for many years. You might expect people like this to serve in only large cities overseas but that is not always the case, either. Look for an organization which can effectively place you and work with your limitations as well as your strengths.

Editor’s note: Readers might appreciate the book Love Has a Face, the story of Michele Perry’s journey. Born with only one leg, she overcame her disabilities to become “mama” to 100 orphans in war-torn Sudan.

Answer from Jennifer in West Africa with United World Mission.

“Yes. Perhaps serve with a medical mission.”

You could minister in medical missions in a setting where the quality of care was relatively high. Plus, you will be able to relate to those you minister to on a profound level. Paul had his thorn in the flesh. Who knows what it was?

You have a thorn too. Find and listen to the Twila Paris song “Thank You For This Thorn.” Glory in your weakness, for in it you are made strong. Let this be something that endears you to others, not something that inhibits you! 

Answer from Stephen with The Luke Project.

“I have lupus and I’m a missionary.”

I have lupus. My husband and I came home from Cameroon, Africa, because I became ill, and now we work in the Pacific Northwest. It is very, very possible to serve the Lord in missions, even with lupus.

I go into the office with my husband about three times a week. I might have to lay down and rest — my husband, Tim, had a couch put in my office — but I can still be a part of the work. In Wycliffe, there are several people with lupus or other chronic illnesses who are serving in third-world countries. 

Our health situations do not take the Lord by surprise. He asks only for our willingness to serve him. We are not “lupus ladies,” but his children, with hearts ready to serve.

Answer from Deanna, who has been a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators since 1974, serving in Cameroon and the United States.

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