If you read 30,000 Teachers (or, of course, even if you haven’t read it) and feel a new or renewed determination to find your place in your global context, here are some resources that might help you continue to be educated, encouraged and equipped. Some resources are more informational (full of facts and figures) and some are more inspirational (full of faith and stories). Personally, I love story. Story can probe deep into my spirit and embed multimodal truth. Story carries me further than simple information does, but this is not true for my husband, Gary, who feeds on facts and reads himself to sleep on Physics textbooks. So in this section I offer links to both—challenging, world-opening stories, and solid, mind-filling facts.
We think the best first step to learning more about missions is to find out what is going on in your local church. We recommend that, before you dig too far into these or other sources, you get connected with the mission-focused people and programs in your own congregation. You can sit down with a missions pastor, have coffee with someone on the missions committee, or get together with any regular attender who is active and informed. You can email a missionary (but pick up some guidelines first), or have a few missionaries over for lunch when they are in the US. You can also learn in action by signing up for a short-term missions project. Once you have a feel for what is going on in your own church you can supplement your learning with these and other sources.
One of the definitive reference works on Christianity worldwide, Operation World is now in its 7th edition and still contains the most complete and up-to-date information about the situation of Christianity in countries, regions, and people groups around the world. It is designed as a guide for prayer, but is also useful as a tool for secondary research. Find it and more here.
If you are serious about learning about missionary movements and approaches, Biblical Missiology is a rich online source of careful, Scriptural evaluations of missionary books, organizations, and ideas. You won’t run out of solid, enriching (free!) reading.They publish an excellent Biblical model of mission theory and practice (which you can find here online or in PDF format).
Open Doors, the ministry begun by Brother Andrew (whom you can read about in God’s Smuggler), serves persecuted Christians worldwide through Bible and Gospel development, women and children’s advancement (including support for orphans, women’s literacy, micro-business for women, and job training) and community restoration. They also maintain the World Watch List,, a regularly updated resource on world-wide persecution, and create an eye-catching solidarity band that you can wear to spark conversations and to remind you to pray. You can follow Open Doors on Facebook or Twitter to be regularly reminded of your global context, stay informed, take action, and pray.
Voice of the Martyrs, the ministry begun by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand (whom you can read about in Tortured for Christ), also serves the persecuted church worldwide and particularly serves the families of those victimized by persecution. VOM is a member of ECFA and publishes a free monthly newsletter. Sign up for it here! VOM provides action steps for those of us in the Global North who want to encourage suffering Christians worldwide and speak out against injustice. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter for opportunities to donate, sign petitions and write letters to imprisoned Christians or their governments. You can also join VOM Voice to become equipped and informed to be a voice in your church, on your campus, or in your community .
“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God” was the desire that sprouted into the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief agency that helps “in Jesus’ Name.” There are many wonderful things about this agency; not least of all that they serve anyone without discrimination, but are faithful to explain that the help is coming from the God who gave us the Bible. One thing my dad taught me when I was a kid growing up in impoverished, animistic societies was that if you give aid without giving the gospel, the recipients of that aid will thank whomever they were already worshiping. If you want to honor God with your service, you can give generously to all, but do it bravely in the name of Jesus. Samaritan’s Purse has been doing this faithfully for over 40 years.
Samaritan’s Purse organizes the superb program “Operation Christmas Child,” which distributes millions of beautiful Christmas boxes to children around the world each year. Samaritan’s Purse is also involved in many other meaningful, life-giving ministries, like the Children’s Heart Project and Operation Heal our Patriots. Samaritan’s Purse publishes a yearly gift catalog that provides a wonderful way to teach your kids (and yourself) to care and to give! (My family and I save our change all year so that we can order a bunch of precious gifts from the catalog—like soothing toys for traumatized children, nourishing milk for newborns, shoes, water filters, literacy lessons, fruit trees, livestock, bicycles, beans, and other things we would like to offer but wouldn’t know how. And it gives us the most precious gift of all—the gift of giving).
If you are serious about discovering the relentless heart of God for world missions, you might want to find a “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” class in your area to take. “Perspectives” is a paradigm-changing, thought-provoking, unsettling experience. It takes you through a systematic theology of missions, a biblical theology of missions in Biblical history, a history of modern missions, an overview of cultural variation, and an introduction to mission strategy. “Perspectives” can be taken for college credit (arrange it with your Christian college first), for a certificate (there’s a lot of constructive homework to do!) or for enrichment (skip the hardest parts of the homework, but still take in as much of the reading as you can). It may ignite a passion for missional living, and impact the way you understand the Bible. Click here to find a class in your area.
If you can’t find “Perspectives” near you, look for a break-away class called “Pathways to Global Understanding.”
(As a caution, some of the material in the “Perspectives” course has been influenced by the “Insider Movement” you can read more about the Insider Movement and its effects on “Perspectives” here.)
Many missionaries who work internationally, and also many Christians who live in their home countries, sometimes wonder how to explain the Gospel clearly to people who speak another language or are from a very different culture. The Global Recordings Network (founded by Joy Ridderhoff, whom you can read about in the classic Count it all Joy) has been providing linguistically sensitive, culturally appropriate, Biblically accurate evangelism tools for over 75 years. If you have a neighbor or friend from another country, if you are preparing for a short-term missions trip, or if you want to provide tools to missionaries already working overseas, you can download free audio files and other materials to give away here. If you have an android phone, you can download the 5Fish app, which allows you to locate and play GRN messages on your phone from anywhere (which is AWESOME. I like to go to the park near my home in Phoenix, where a lot of refugee families spend time. While our kids play on the swings together, I play their own tribal languages on my phone for them. They are astonished and very grateful. This is a great, quick-draw tool to spark cross-cultural, cross-linguistic conversations and friendships.). GRN specifically works to provide the Gospel to small people groups in the most remote regions of the world, where there are no Bible translations and no local churches.
A GRN rep I know used to describe the inequitable distribution of Christian materials around the world by bringing a bunch of fast food to college chapels. He would begin passing out cheeseburgers in the first row, which would run out by about half the second row. Then he would pass out soft drinks, which would run out by the third row. Ice cream sandwiches would make it to about the fifth row, french fries and Fritos to the sixth row…etc. He always started with the first row, which was overloaded with lunch options, and there was never enough food to reach the people at the back of the room. Then he would explain how Bible translators, book translators, seminaries, radio stations, tv stations, webpages, discipleship materials, Christian music, and other Christian resources start “at the front of the room;” they are targeted at the largest people groups in the world, which is why we in the Global North have such an abundance of resources while many people still have none at all. The Global Recordings Network is one of only a handful of organizations that start at the back of the room. They target the smallest, most overlooked populations on earth. Find out more about their mission here.
We recently had dinner with a family who work with another organization that targets the smallest and most underserved people groups on earth. Mike and Lori work to provide digital Bibles and Scripture portions in the world’s most over-looked, living languages without technical or legal restrictions on copying and sharing. Find some of those sharable Bibles here! Connect with Mike and Lori to find out more.
One of the biggest challenges for Western Christians who want to be involved in missions is to find the most effective role for the first-world church to play. KP Yohannan and others have argued that the current movement in world missions is not to send Western outsiders to do the job but rather to support national insiders. The Western church has wealth and expertise, but national churches, pastors, and evangelists have better cultural knowledge, language skills, and an insider status that will increase the credibility and longevity of the Christian message. A powerful mission strategy is to partner with local leaders and enable them to be kingdom builders in their own countries To read more about this perspective, check out Revolution in World Missions. It is free if you order it directly from Gospel for Asia (no joke, it really is!). If you find the message compelling, go online and begin supporting a national evangelist for $30 a month.
For resources specific to teaching as international ministry, Don Snow’s English Teaching as Christian Mission, Jan Edward Dormer’s Teaching English in Missions: Effectiveness and Integrity, and Michael Romanowski and Teri McCarthy’s Teaching in a Distant Classroom: Crossing Borders for Global Transformation offer some excellent insights.
Snow’s (2012) book is my favorite of the three and focuses on the theory and theology of teaching, including teaching as a Christian vocation, as witness, as ministry, as Christian service, and as a pathway toward making peace.
Dormer’s (2011) book gives a basic overview of how Christian teachers can be impactful in their own contexts and focuses on the importance of integrity and professionalism.
Romanowski and McCarthy (2009) cover almost the same material as Dormer in their first 3 chapters–they discuss the impact of Christians as missional English Teachers and stress the importance of integrity and motivation. They then provide a crash course in teaching, which is speckled with illustrative anecdotes.
There are dozens of new mission-focused texts and missionary stories published every year. To browse more, check out CBDs list of missionary titles.
To comment on or add to this list, email us at ThirtyThousandTeachers@gmail.com.