Why You Should Consider Career Missions if You’ve Been Laid Off

God can use all sorts of circumstances to direct us into ministry—even unemployment.

As the pandemic has panicked the globe, many people are entering a “new normal.” For many, this new normal has included working remotely, temporarily lay-off, and or permanent job loss.

But there are hidden blessings happening right now too. Many believers worldwide have gained a greater sense of connection with church and family during quarantine through neighborhood walks and video calls, in spite of social distancing. In many cases, these connections have resulted in gospel encounters. Perhaps you’ve now learned to live beneath your means. And perhaps, amidst the depressing barrage of news on television and social media, you now know more about Asia and Italy than ever before.

Spiritual conversations. Living on less. A growing knowledge of foreign countries.

This may not be an accident. But in order to make sense of the Lord’s ongoing work in our hearts, we must turn to his Word.

He Will Keep Your Life

If we’re being honest, this is hard. Many of us believers in Christ, unfortunately, have not responded to the pandemic with much more wisdom than our secular neighbors.

But when our hearts are troubled by the devastation around us, our cries are to echo that of the psalmist in Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. (vv. 1-8, ESV)

We have the promise that the Lord will “keep” our lives (v. 7)—not that we are immune from all danger, but that we will triumph over every affliction and one day be raised from the dead. This blessing is not just for us; it leads us to look beyond ourselves: “May God be gracious to us and bless us… that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Ps. 67: 1-2).

This is where missions comes into the equation. We live in a world ravaged by disease and heartache; yet as believers, we have the hope and gospel of a God who mends both broken hearts and bodies. This message must be shared.

Four Reasons to Consider Missions Right Now

While we do not yet know how God will use this pandemic, I believe that the Spirit is using the present time to call many believers to devote their lives to missions among the unreached. There are four reasons I believe this.

1. All Christians are called to participate in the Great Commission

First, God already desires every Christian to be employed in his mission, regardless of their employment status elsewhere. Before Jesus’ ascension into heaven, he told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). This command has become the impetus for every Christian missions movement since. Paul Davis recently observed, “The Great Commission wasn’t given to the Western church but to the body of Christ.” Neither was the Great Commission given exclusively to the disciples, the early church, pastors, or modern nonprofits. It belongs to the whole church.

There are many Christian jobs, missions trips, and opportunities for ministry overseas, but no matter what form it takes, every Christian is called to make disciples.

2. God sovereignly uses brokenness to glorify himself

Second, throughout Scripture and history God has used calamity for his own good purposes. The God of the Bible is trustworthy and sovereign, exercising control over everything, from the massive stars ignited by his breath to the invisible atoms that compose our bodies.

The prophet Isaiah writes:

Remember this and stand firm…
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, “My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose”…
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:8-11, ESV)

The same God who calls us on mission also directs every world event for the purpose of spreading his the fame of his name. It would be unlike God not to use global panic to advance of his kingdom. There is truly no one like our God!

3. There is no greater threat to the world than eternal punishment

It is tempting to doubt God’s goodness during difficult seasons, especially when jobs are lost, or when vulnerable friends or relatives are isolated or possibly sick. If you are a Christian, consider the sheer weight of facing the death of just a loved one who does not know Christ and remains under God’s wrath (see Rom. 1:18).

Now consider the fact that at least 2 billion unreached individuals in the world will certainly face death at some point without ever having meaningfully heard the gospel message. That is why missions matters.

4. You (yes, you!) can bring glory to God through missions

My fear is twofold. First, I fear that many of us are like Jonah—called to missions, yet making excuses or running the wrong direction. My other fear is that many will read this and remain unchanged.

Not all are called to go; many are called to stay, send, support, pray, and train. But standing idly by on the sidelines is not what Jesus had in mind when he commanded his followers to “go and make disciples.”

  • To go means to dedicate your life to disciple-making, whether in your country of origin or in a new culture. This often means that giving up a life of comfort to prioritize the kingdom of God and the fame of Jesus famous among the nations.
  • To send is, in part, to dedicate your life to the support of those in Christian ministry at home or in pioneer missionary contexts. This is a life that is saturated with prayer and sacrificial giving.

Maybe you have been thinking about finding a Christian ministry job, or applying to be a missionary, or landing a pastoral position near you, but the timing hasn’t been right until now. Perhaps you have been praying about missions, but simply have not had the bandwidth at your job to entertain the prospect of traveling. If God is stirring in your heart a desire to go as a laborer into his harvest, don’t suppress the desire.

What to Do When You’re Laid Off

So what now? Here you are, perhaps laid off, with more time on your hands than you had expected. You now have more free time than ever to pray at home and consider your calling, and more time to talk to your pastor to get his input. If God is calling you to participate in the Great Commission by going, that is not a conviction to ignore. In this time of quarantine, consider what it might look like to start the conversation with a missions agency like ABWE who can come alongside the local church to help send you overseas or into a new culture to share the gospel with those who desperately need it.

For some, God has you on mission locally with your family, your church, and your community. That is a beautiful calling as well, and I would implore you to not forget about brothers and sisters in Christ who are on the mission field currently. Pray for them, give sacrificially to their ministry, write them letters to encourage them. Maybe you don’t personally know any missionaries, but you would like to support missions. There are so many creative ways to do this, including adopting an unreached people group.

Make the most of your quarantine, employed, telecommuting, or laid off. Do not miss this opportunity for God to guide you to your “new normal.”

Noah Gwinn

Noah Gwinn is a Mobilizer for ABWE, passionate about connecting missions minded individuals and churches with teams on the field. He also serves as the Director of Music and Communications at Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Noah graduated in 2019 with a ministry degree from Liberty University.