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Long-term mission

Long-term mission service overseas with BMS

Our mid and long-term mission programmes are for those who are committed to serving God in some of the most marginalised and least evangelised parts of the world. Following a period of language learning and cross-cultural orientation you will work under the guidance of local leaders to build capacity in local churches and communities whilst sharing your faith and helping to disciple local believers.

Our mid-term programme is for those serving between two and four years, and our long-term programme for those serving upwards of four years.

The BMS World Mission vision document states that ‘the highest goal of all we do is to bring people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and an experience of the abundant life that Jesus described’. Mid and long-term mission workers live out this calling from several years to a lifetime in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America.

BMS has individuals, couples and families who serve from several years to a lifetime in Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East. They have the common desire to make Jesus known so that people throughout the world might experience the abundant life only Jesus can bring.

You’ll find some of the vacancies we are looking to fill by clicking here. There are other recruitment needs which aren’t listed, so don’t be put off if you don’t immediately see something that seems to fit you.

Below is some key information about mid and long-term mission service with BMS, including next steps. If you have any other questions, please get in touch.

What type of people is BMS looking for?

People from many different backgrounds with different skills and experience serve with BMS overseas including single people, married couples and families with children.

BMS is a Christian mission agency so, above all, we are looking for those with the desire to share their faith in word and action and enable people to know the love of Christ. We are looking for people who are servant-hearted, willing to learn and prepared to work under local leadership and alongside overseas partners in some of the most marginalised and least evangelised parts of the world.

You need to be a committed Christian who is active in a local church in the UK and you must have the support of your local church.

Many different skills can be used by our partners. Those who serve with BMS need to be flexible in using some of the more transferrable skills from their profession as well as life skills and experience. You will need to be prepared to teach and pass on those skills to those you are serving so they can carry on the work long after you have left. You will also need to be prepared to learn another language as well as learn how to live in a different culture.

In addition:

You must be physically and psychologically fit, obtaining clearance from our medical advisors.

You must be ordinarily resident in the UK.

You must be able to obtain a clear enhanced DBS certificate.

‘Being involved in cross-cultural mission has been no easy option… But I would not exchange those nine years for anything – the opportunity to live with and learn from some incredibly faithful, passionate, dedicated and inspiring Christian brothers and sisters; to bring our children up in a culture which emphasises relationships over roles, people over possessions; and to wake up in the morning and feel the reality hit me again that I’m not just involved in, but sold out for God’s amazing and daring mission to the whole world.’

Pete and Liz Maycock, long-term mission workers, Thailand

How long can I go for?

Our mid-term programme is for those wishing to serve for an initial period of two years following training which may after review be extended for a further two years. Our long-term programme is for those wishing to commit for more than five years (which includes a period of training). All long-term placements have an initial agreed fixed period of service (usually four years) which is reviewed and often extended.

The periods of service for those going long-term are divided into time overseas and time back in the UK on home assignment. Typically that might mean 12-18 months overseas followed by two months in the UK on home assignment.

‘When people hear that we are committed to being here long-term, it feels like we are already a step closer to building real relationships. Relationships which we hope will have a deep and lasting impact for us all and the Kingdom of God.’

Joe and Lois Ovenden, long-term mission workers, Zimbabwe

Where can I go?

BMS sends workers to around 20 countries on four continents. We aim to match the needs and opportunities of our overseas partners with the skills and gifts of those who apply. Factors such as length of service and education for children will also play a part in the decision as to where you might go. Please note we are only able to place you where your skills and gifts match the needs or roles that our partners are recruiting for.

Does my age matter?

God calls people into overseas mission at different ages. We have people serving with BMS from 17-70 plus across all our programmes. However there are some age restrictions on visa entries to some countries as well as limits on insurance.

If you have some years of professional experience or are taking early retirement there may be a role that our partners could use you in.

‘Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.’

William Carey

What about children?

God calls whole families to serve him, and we are thankful for the many families who work with BMS. We recognise the special circumstances surrounding taking children overseas and the concerns of their parents. It isn’t always easy but our mission personnel do it successfully. They say their children often benefit so much from growing up in a different culture.

We want to be as supportive as possible and take into account the needs of the whole family. We aim to provide children with an education which enables them to re-enter the British system without difficulty.

Do I have useful skills?

Our core areas of work are:

Church planting
Leadership training
Development
Education
Health
Justice and advocacy
Disaster relief

We are looking for people who have professional skills, and also people who have transferable skills that can be used within these areas, for example administration or project management. We take into consideration your life skills and experience too.

We also want people who are willing to share their faith, disciple local believers and build relationships; who have a flexible attitude and a servant heart. Character is just as important to BMS as professional expertise.

For an indication of some of our current specific recruitment needs, see our current opportunities page.

‘The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.’

Jesus, Matthew 9:37-38 (CEB)

Will I have to learn a foreign language?

We place high value on integration with the host culture especially for long-term mission workers. Language is a significant factor in this and, of course, enables you to better do the role you are hoping to fill. All long-term mission personnel will need to undertake a period of language learning and cross-cultural orientation.

‘After overcoming the struggles of language learning and deepening my understanding of the culture, I now feel better equipped to make a significant difference by meeting people’s needs from their standpoint rather than mine. It is a wonderful privilege to be serving God as a cross-cultural mission worker.’

Amanda Redwood, long-term mission worker, Italy

Do I have to raise my financial support?

BMS believes that while we offer one of the best financial packages for mission personnel serving longer term overseas, we also believe in providing opportunities for friends, colleagues and family to affirm your mission calling in a practical way. Therefore, much as allowances are provided, mission personnel should be prepared to invite a small number of people to sign up to our 24:7 Partners scheme aimed at their own, specific, financial support. The role of the sending church is valued in providing pastoral, prayer and financial support. Sending churches are asked to support mission workers financially by giving £49 per regular attendee up to £10,000.

Long-term workers (4 years +) are fully supported by BMS and receive a living allowance and pension. Mid-term workers (2-4 years) are only supported in part and do not receive a pension and will need to raise support for their personal living expenses.

Do I have to be a Baptist?

BMS is proud of our Baptist heritage and our support comes largely from Baptist churches in the UK. The majority of people who serve with BMS currently are from a Baptist church but not all. We have people serving from many different church denominations.

You need to be in sympathy with the Baptist understanding of church and baptism in particular. Some of our partners overseas will only accept people who have been baptised as a believer.

Do come and talk with us as we welcome enquiries and applications from anyone genuinely committed to Christ, whatever church they attend.

‘We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.’

John Stott

Will BMS train me?

We believe in the need for good preparation for everyone who goes overseas with BMS. Because we feel so strongly about this, BMS provides an appropriate length of training free of charge to everyone who serves with us at our residential training centre in Birmingham.

Mid-term applicants train for one term. Long-term applicants train for two terms. Whilst the training, board and lodgings are provided for free, we ask those in training to sign-up ten 24:7 Partners who are able to commit to supporting you financially. These funds are passed on to you during training (but they offset BMS costs when you are overseas). Mission trainees do not receive a personal allowance or pension.

Our courses are practical with a variety of training methods. We seek to help you gain knowledge and expand your skills but also to provide time and space to consider your spiritual life and for character development. For those serving long-term we take professional development seriously and try where possible to help you develop relevant skills and expertise.

What about pastoral and member care overseas?

People are the greatest asset BMS has and so we make it a priority to care for our personnel. We have experienced and knowledgeable staff overseeing all the geographical areas in which we work. You will get regular visits from these people in your placement. You can always contact someone from BMS in the event of an emergency.

BMS mission personnel speak very positively about their experience of pastoral care.

What would BMS do in the event of an emergency overseas?

Going on mission is not a safe option and so there can be no guarantees of complete safety and security. Obviously we pray and trust God’s protection for our personnel but God allows all Christians to go through difficult situations and mission workers are not exempt.

We have good risk management policies and procedures in place in the event of a medical emergency or security situation. We have excellent insurance cover for all personnel which provides emergency repatriation in the event of a medical emergency that can’t be handled in situ. We have an emergency phone answered by BMS staff 24/7.

Our overseas partners in countries with significant security issues are regularly in touch with the national security services and will advise personnel on the safest options for living in the country. We monitor the UK Foreign Office website to keep abreast of any security situations as they develop. Where situations have developed in countries we have evacuated personnel either back to the UK or to a nearby country. We have also sent out a member of staff from the UK to help support personnel who have faced a traumatic incident and have provided critical incident debriefing either in-country or back in the UK. Above all mission personnel play an important role in undertaking risk assessments and managing emergency situations so as to minimise their impact.

‘So should everyone be passionate about missions? My answer is a resounding but qualified ‘Yes!’ A primary mark of a believer is a burgeoning passion for everything that is precious to the heart of God… If we are to be people after God’s own heart, we must share this heartbeat.’

David ‘Gunner’ Gundersen

What about prayer support?

We know that prayer is vital and we try to make sure that prayer is at the heart of all of our thinking, strategy and actions. We partner you with BMS supporting churches through our Church Partnerships scheme who will give you prayer support in addition to that from your own home church.

In addition when you are in the UK on home assignment you will be deployed as a BMS speaker to various supporting churches to share the story of what God has been doing through you and BMS overseas. To help the churches maintain their support you will also be expected to write regular prayer letters and to keep a blog so people know your on-going story and how to pray for you.

How often will I visit the UK?

For those serving more than two years you will have regular breaks back in the UK. The usual pattern, although not the only one, is to spend 12-18 months abroad and then two months back in the UK on what we call home assignment. This enables you to catch up with family and friends and to visit the churches and groups who have been supporting you as part of the Church Partnerships scheme. This reinforces your partnership with them in the work you are doing and enables them to continue to pray effectively.

Am I entitled to free NHS care when visiting the UK?

You may have heard about legislation which came into force in England in 2015 which changed overseas workers’ entitlement to some NHS care (note: due to devolved decision making, legislation is different in Scotland and Wales). Unless mission workers can prove they are ‘ordinarily resident’ (OR) in the UK they are required to pay for secondary healthcare (e.g. giving birth, surgery and consultant check-ups) when returning to the UK for holidays and home assignments. Secondary care will be charged at 150 per cent of the cost. Accident and emergency and GP services continue to be free at the point of use.

The vast majority of our mission workers will be able to prove they are OR and so will not incur any costs for secondary healthcare in England. BMS works on alternatives measures on a case-by-case basis for those who may find it more difficult to prove they are OR in England. On returning permanently to the UK after a period of mission service workers are automatically classed as ordinarily resident once again.

What happens when I return to the UK?

We want to help you make a good transition back to life in the UK. We recognise that for some people this will be difficult and we want to support you through that process. You will have the opportunity to talk through your experiences with BMS UK staff during a debrief.

We will encourage you and give opportunities for you to tell your story by visiting churches and other groups. You will be offered the chance to attend a ‘re-entry’ retreat.  For children there is support to attend a TCK re-entry programme. We also have an alumni programme called Mission Plus for those who have served overseas with us in any capacity. This enables you to keep in touch with BMS.

Your church too will play an important part in your transition to life back in the UK and we provide them with information on how they can support you on your return. Long-term mission personnel are supported financially for a few months after their return while they do their church visits.

What next?

We at BMS would love to help as you consider what God has for your future. Get in touch with us, and a member of our team will be delighted to help.

We also recommend that you meet with your church leader to talk through and pray about your application.

After your initial contact and discussion, it’s likely that we’ll then ask you to complete an initial application form. This doesn’t commit you to anything but forms a basis for our discussions when we meet with you.

Once we have received your initial application form it will be circulated around our Regional Leaders who will explore with our overseas partners if your skills and character match any of the roles they are recruiting for. If there is a role we envisage you for and we wish to pursue your application, you will be invited in for an initial exploratory interview at our offices in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

We take the responsibility of journeying with you to discern God’s call in your life very seriously, and consequently the selection procedure for long-term service is a thorough process, details of which will be explained to you in detail along the way.

If at any point you have any questions or would like an informal telephone conversation, then please get in touch.

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