Missionary travel is one of the oldest forms of “tourism”. Missionaries visit certain countries or areas for an extended period of time to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as economic development, health care, social justice, literacy, and education. The word mission is actually derived from the Latin missionem, meaning the act of sending. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any ideology, creed or religion.
Pros and Cons
There are two contrasting views when it comes to missionary work. While some people maintain that the work missionaries are doing significantly improves the standard of living in developing countries and poor regions, others believe the locals are being manipulated for the sake of religious
Some even believe that missionaries have a perceived lack of respect for other cultures. Still, the education and health care provided by missionaries is certainly beneficial to the locals who, in most cases, are living in third world countries in extreme poverty. For missionaries themselves, there are positives and negatives. While you don’t make much money, and may not have control over where you go or for how long, you do get to travel and experience new cultures, while at the same time making a positive impact on the lives of those who may be less fortunate than you.
Two of the most well known destinations for missionaries are Brazil and Russia. Brazil receives missionaries from all over the world, including the United States, Spain, and Africa. The churches in Brazil do not only provide religious services, but also humanitarian services such as educational opportunities, medical care, and clean water. It is the second most-visited country in the world by missionaries. Still recovering from the collapse of the Soviet Union and suffering from political turmoil, Russia is another popular destination for Christian missionaries. Over 20 000 missionaries visited Russia in 2010 to help citizens with medical care and education, and to spread the Christian Gospel.
The Road Less Travelled
It may be surprising to learn the United States is actually the most popular destination for missionary travellers. The country is generally a Christian nation and is one of the top countries that send missionaries, but it is a popular destination for missionaries of other religions to travel to and help promote their religious beliefs. France is another surprising destination, which was 6th overall. France has a Christian presence that goes back hundreds of years, but recently less than 1% of the French population professes to be Christian. Thus, it has become a popular destination for Christian missionaries.
Costs and Savings
Serving a foreign mission abroad is typically much more expensive than serving a mission in your own country, but it does offer a unique experience in that you are able to travel at the same time you are doing your missionary work. Airline travel fees will be one of the biggest expenses, and it is likely you will need to bring extra baggage because missionaries tend to relocate for extended periods of time. Luckily, since most of the missionary work is done in third world countries, the cost of living may be significantly lower than the one in a first world country. It is important to ensure your trip is well organized, and researching different missionary organizations is key to help saving money and utilizing all resources effectively.