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Why Missionaries Should Stop Going Undercover

“When I used to look at missionaries who are reaching closed countries, I always thought that they had to go with some sort of cover story,” says Rachel of Ashland Grace. “I thought they had to say they were going as English teachers, even though they were really going as church-planters or evangelists.”

After all, unreached countries are unreached for a reason. They don’t have easy cultures, governments, or languages to integrate with. So how else are believers supposed to reach these places if they don’t go undercover?

As a former missionary herself, Rachel jokingly says, “I think people looked at us and said, ‘You guys are just a bunch of weirdos! What are you guys doing?’” But in early 2024, Rachel visited some global workers in these kinds of places, and God gave her a completely different perspective. She says, “I used to think that the undercover method was completely legitimate, but as I talked to many of them, I realized that’s kind of a false philosophy.” 

Speaking from the perspective of the global workers she visited, Rachel says, “We are realizing that we need to be fully here as the people we said we came here to be. We need to be people of integrity and to contribute to this community while also responding to the opportunities that God gives us.” 

As she watched these global workers in action, she realized each of them was all about doing an excellent job in their field: making the best cup of coffee, providing the best schooling possible, or helping every person with special needs they saw. She reports, “They were all hitting it out of the park, and doing their jobs with excellence.” As these global workers built relationships with locals and demonstrated their excellence, God then gave them plenty of opportunities to answer the question, “Why in the world did you guys come all the way here to do this?”

What a great set-up to tell them that God’s loving Spirit inside of them is what drove them to do what they do!

Isn’t that strategy so much better? If you say you’re an English teacher, but only spend a couple hours a week teaching English, that will only make the locals suspicious. 

We believe in this idea of holistic ministry so much that we actually have our entire Transformational Works Network dedicated to this kind of ministry. But you don’t have to go overseas to start experiencing the fruit of this outreach strategy—you can start trying it right where you are. God, how do you want me to use my skill set to bless others this year?