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What’s your motivation for moving abroad?

by Mark Silvers
in Blog, Mark Silvers, Mission work
Finding and focusing on the why for missions

I spend my days moving people toward the least-reached. Sometimes people are eager, and sometimes they need a little push to keep moving forward. But I never want to be the reason people say yes to missions. Nor do I want them to be the reason, ultimately.

How do we know what’s really in our heart? It can be difficult to uncover our true motivations. I say motivations, plural, because usually there are more than one. And that’s not a bad thing. 

But some of them fall short in the long run. And it’s my job, as a missions guide, to help you find and focus on the real why.

Lesser Motivations

Do any of these resonate with you? If so, don’t count yourself out — keep reading.

The adventurer | Are you motivated by the lure of living in an exotic culture? While the idea of learning a new language and experiencing a new way of life are daunting to many people, not to you! You love a good challenge.

The resume artist | Does your company offer an incentive for transferring to an international office? Not only will you get to see a new side of your company, the resume experience will also put you on the cutting edge when you apply for a better position.

“We need a deeper motivation ... that doesn’t start with us, so that it doesn’t change according to our emotions.”

The humanitarian | Do you dream of changing the world? Your skills in healthcare, education, engineering, and community development can help put an end to injustice and bring real aid to people’s lives.

Are any of these motivations wrong in and of themselves? No, not really.

Exploring culture, building your career, and pursuing social justice are good, God-given desires. But I would argue they’re not enough.

What will keep you motivated when the thrill wears off? When the work isn’t worth the pay? When people don’t appreciate your help?

If we are to be disciple-makers, we need a deeper motivation — one that doesn’t start with us, so that it doesn’t change according to our emotions.

God’s Glory

The primary motivation for a disciple-maker going to the nations must be to see God exalted across the globe. God desires the glory of His name to be spread throughout the earth (Habakkuk 2:14), and He chooses to use His people to accomplish the task (Matthew 28:19-20).

Pastor and author John Piper put it this way: “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” God desires and deserves worship from all nations.

For us, a decision to move cross-culturally ought to flow from our desire to join God in His purposes. When we choose to live and work in an area where there is no known gospel witness, God brings His love to life through us, transforms lives, and redeems worshippers.

“Our motivation to live and work cross-culturally must not be primarily about our love for culture or world change, or even our love for the least-reached. We must first be motivated by our love for God.”


One of the characteristics of a true disciple, a follower of Christ, is obedience. In his book A Better Way: Make Disciples Wherever Life Happens, Dale Losch writes, “Disciples are recognized by obedience to all that Jesus commanded. This would include, first and foremost, what He had commanded them right here—to go and make disciples who, in turn, go and make disciples.”

No matter where we live or what we do, all of God’s people must be making disciples. And some of us should be doing that among the least-reached.

Pastor and author David Platt said in his foreword to the book Multiply, “This is the grand purpose for which we were created: to enjoy the grace of Christ as we spread the gospel of Christ from wherever we live, to the ends of the earth.” In other words, we were created to enjoy Christ as we obey Him.

Our motivation to live and work cross-culturally must not be primarily about our love for culture or world change, or even — although important — our love for the least-reached. We must first be motivated by our love for God.

Is God stirring in your heart to make His glory known among the least-reached? Are you seeking to obey Christ in making disciples among all nations? Talk to a Crossworld recruiter today.

Mark Silvers, Crossworld Director of MobilizationMark Silvers served with Crossworld in the Philippines for 10 years and joined the home office staff as Director of Recruitment in 2009. Mark’s driving passion is to reach the 3.2 billion people in the world today with no access to the gospel.

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