A Support Team: Tom

Getting Ready to Go

Looking back, Tom recalls a persistent urge to go to China for the past 20 years. After graduating from college, he spent a few years in the military which allowed him to live in Japan and Korea. Wherever he went, he tried to share God’s love, but a constant pull to China remained in his heart.

Alas, family needs kept him from following his heart. Upon leaving the military, he tried selling real estate, but that was not the right career for him. Then, he tried teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and found that he enjoyed teaching. After a few years in ESL teaching, he went for a PhD in English because he wanted to teach at the university level.

Last year, he went on his first exploration trip to China. He has now applied for a position at one of the leading universities in China and is waiting for an offer. Is Tom finally ready to go?

To answer that question, we suggest that he examine the following areas:

Preparing Holistically

Tom is interested in going to China as a tentmaker. Finding a suitable job affects both career and ministry. He has prepared professionally. Now he needs to turn his attention to other areas of preparation.

  • Has he developed ministry skills such as sharing his faith, leading Bible studies or reaching out to people of a different culture?
  • If he is committed to China long term, then has he started studying Chinese to serve the locals more effectively in the future?

Recruiting Prayer Support

Is he an active member of a congregation that will support him in prayer? (He may also need to raise funds to cover expenses not covered by his salary.)

A prayer team will be critical for fruitfulness in China. A minimum of 30 concrete pledges such as “I will pray for you at least once a week” would be a good start. In serving the unreached in China, he is entering into spiritual warfare and will need protection and support to be fruitful.

Church membership with a local community of believers provides both accountability and support. This would make up his home community.

  • Has he developed a relationship and shared with his pastor?
  • Does the missions committee understand his vision for China?
  • Will his small group leader mobilize members to pray for him?
  • Does he have someone to coordinate his newsletters?

By sharing his plan with a few mature Christians that he trusts, he can ask for their feedback and advice. As a result, he would have a core group to rally around him and serve as his support base.

Sorting out Financial Obligations

Does he have loans or financial commitments that would cause financial hardship if he does not have a stable source of income in China?

The need to reduce or clear debts before going to work overseas for a modest income is simply conventional wisdom. This is especially important when teaching contracts are renewed annually (i.e. no guarantee of stable income). It is important for a good testimony, too. It will also be wise to have some savings for a buffer so unforeseen income changes will not cause financial hardships.

Hence, he may consider raising some financial support as part of his preparations for China. A modest amount of $500-1,000 a month would be a reasonable target. Many organizations that send English teachers to serve in China have similar guidelines. A sample budget for raising support would be:

  • $200/mth for international health insurance
  • $200/mth savings for medical or other emergency needs
  • $100/mth for pastoral care & other support services with a sending organization

Going with a Sending Organization

In addition to partnering with a church for support, there are other logistics where he may need support. For example, medical and psychological screenings provide helpful baseline data before going overseas. These would be taken care of by a sending organization.

Considering the investment of time and effort in going to China long term, joining a sending organization like GoLiveServe for support is one item that Tom, and others like him, cannot afford to overlook.