Can I become a missionary if I have a speech impediment?

“Yes. I’m a mobilizer even though I have a speech impediment.”

I work in mission mobilization and plan to be a church planter one day. While I was young I too had a speech impediment. How scary the first day of the school year was. God showed himself strong in my weakness. Whenever I was to give a speech or to read from scripture in public I was fluent. It was such a joy to feel that. It became my mark of ownership. I leaned on him for every public speaking thing I had to do… and ironically, I get compliments on my public speaking ability! 

Now I have outgrown the impediment for the most part. When it does act up it is a sign for me to “get back to God,” to spend more time in his presence. Because I let him be strong in my weakness he has opened doors for me to give many successful speaking messages to his glory. Go forward, don’t let it slow you down.

Answer from Heather, who now serves in India.

“Let God equip you like he did Moses.”

Sometimes God calls us to do things we never thought possible and, in the process, makes changes in our personalities which enable us to do the work he wants us to do. 

I was the guy who never spoke in public, not even in a small group of peers. I would never pray out loud, and I stayed at home all the time, going only to the most socially mandatory school functions (feeling quite uncomfortable at them), and almost never going to church youth group functions or to friends’ parties. 

My last year of high school I caught, for the first time, a vision for the purpose of my life. Through a series of sermons and prayer meetings at a church mission conference, God suddenly turned me on to the purpose of calling his people back to him in prayer, Bible study, and international missions. I started seeing some real changes in my personality.

The God-given purpose was so big that I was able to abandon myself to it and let God start working through me and enabling me to do things I never would have done before. I went from never praying out loud in prayer meetings to actually leading hundreds of prayer meetings all over the Southeastern United States. I started seeing leadership qualities and people-skills and speaking skills which I never had before because God was equipping me in his sovereign way to do his will. 

This same sort of personality-change happened with many people in the Bible when God appointed them to a special role: Moses had a speech impediment, Gideon balked when God fingered him for leadership, Peter was an uneducated fisherman. Yet all these men became great leaders of his people. If God lights a fire under you for something, don’t worry about your impediments. He will “equip you in every good thing to do his will” (Hebrews 13:21).

Answer from Nate Wilson, who served with Caleb Project.

“Let God give you grace and miracles.”

We have a dear friend who has been a missionary for many years; it must be close to forty years now. He stutters seriously! He went to the home where the church had arranged for him to have a meal. The hostess did not know him.

When he came to the door, he stuttered so badly that he wasn’t able to communicate with her and tell her who he was. Finally she closed the door, not realizing that this was the missionary she was expecting for dinner! I tell you that story not to discourage you but to help you understand how serious his problem was. 

God has used him in a mighty way over the years. The amazing thing was that each time this man was speaking in the pulpit, God temporarily took away the stuttering completely! Whenever he preached, he was perfectly fluent, and no one would have guessed that he had a problem.

But after the service, when he spoke to them individually or at the door, there was no question that his problem was serious. Had he not obeyed God and gone into ministry, he maybe never would have known the power of God in this area of his life. 

God has given him many responsibilities on the field that did not necessarily require a lot of oral communication. But God has also given him the grace to deal with his weakness, just as he did for Paul and his thorn in the flesh. And because of his speech problem, I’m sure he has influenced many others who recognized they didn’t have an excuse for not going into missions. 

I’m one of them. My husband and I served for many years in Asia, and now I continue to work with the mission coordinating short-term teams who go to Asia to teach English.

Answer from Linda, who serves with EFCM International Network in their outreach English classes.

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