How can I prepare for service?
Although not a prerequisite for short-term service, previous overseas experience is something that is extremely helpful for someone who desires to spend the next two years in ministry outside of the United States. Since IMB does international cross-cultural missions, perhaps you have some involvement in the international community here in the States. Consider talking to your church or associational office about ethnic ministry in your area or work with your BSM's international ministry on campus. A volunteer trip overseas is always good preparation. Formal witness training is a real plus.
Should I pursue a Journeyman position or seminary first?
If you wish to pursue both a Journeyman position and a seminary degree, there is no right or wrong way to approach this. If the passion for missions is strong right now, take the Journeyman route. Seminary will be there when you get back, and there may be scholarships available from the seminary for a returned Journeyman.
On the other hand, if missions is your life’s calling, you need to get prepared. Go ahead and get a seminary degree (or the needed 20 or 30 hours) then come through our application process.
You may want to check with the Southern Baptist seminaries about the International Church Planting degree that combines seminary education and IMB service on the field. This is also referred to as 2+2 or 2+3 programs.
How much financial support is provided?
Journeyman missionaries are fully funded through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®. This is the backbone of Southern Baptist missions. The only support that needs to be raised is prayer support!
We provide an adequate system of support that meets basic needs. Monthly support includes a base salary with cost of living supplement (field parity). The base salary remains constant, but the supplement may be adjusted up or down depending upon the cost of living in your particular country. Housing and work-related transportation are provided on the field, so basically the expenses you will pay out of your salary each month will be for your food, utilities, and personal expenses. If you choose to travel on your vacation time, that is also your personal expense.
Support begins the day you travel to start orientation. It is normally paid by direct deposit. Field Personnel Orientation expenses are covered by IMB.
Is insurance provided?
IMB provides comprehensive medical insurance and modest life insurance. There are no retirement benefits provided through the Journeyman program. We also provide travel insurance. IMB continues to provide medical coverage for up to two months after completion of service (for a two-year term of service). After this, obtaining other coverage will be necessary.
What about my student loans?
If you have recently graduated and have student loans, you may go ahead and start paying them, but your payments must be within the limits of $75 per month if you are single and $125 per month if you are married. Many times, however, student loans are more than this debt limit. This does not necessarily disqualify you from service — student loans may be eligible for deferment until you return. Typically you will qualify for deferment because either 1) your monthly income is below the minimum required to make payments or 2) you are working for a non-profit organization overseas. Not all loans qualify for deferment — you will need to contact your lender to determine if deferment is an option.
What about other debt?
Get any consumer debt paid down to within our debt limits of $75 per month if you are single and $125 per month if you are married. It is always best to go to the field debt free. Please note: this monthly payment limit includes the total of all payments. Most people will sell their car before coming to orientation or just after leaving orientation. If you choose to keep paying for your car (for when you get back), we will ask you to write a letter of how you intend to get within the debt limit.
Some people sell their homes while others will rent them out while they are overseas. If you rent, have someone here in the States who has Power of Attorney manage the property for you. Your consultant will request a letter from you explaining your plan of action to be within the debt limit.
What will my housing be like on the field?
Your housing will probably not compare to western standards, but it will be adequate in which to live. Depending upon the country and the city, you may live in a house, or an apartment, or maybe just a room with a local family. You will learn more about the accommodations as you are matched with a job.
How do I exchange money while on the field?
Exchanging money varies from country to country. Depending upon the country, you might be able to go to a bank and write a personal U.S. dollar check and receive the balance in local currency. Most likely you will either use your Visa or MasterCard at a bank to get a cash advance (but watch out for fees), or receive a cash advance from your mission treasurer (whereby you write a monthly personal check to IMB to clear your personal account).
Do I need to know a foreign language to go?
Knowing a foreign language is not necessary. If you need the local language to do your work, you will have some intense language study during the first few months. This may be in a school setting or a more casual context of learning from a tutor or nationals.
You should expect to learn to speak the local language while in country. You may not need the language to get your work done, but you will need some language to show the local people that you care about them, their heritage and culture — and that you are not a tourist! Certainly you will learn proper greetings and departures, and how to bargain at the market. The main focus of your language learning will be in order to build relationships and share the gospel.
What if my friends and I wish to apply together?
The Journeyman Program is an individual and not a group opportunity. You will come through the application and interview process individually, though you and a friend may come through simultaneously and be able to serve together.
Can my family or friends visit me on the field?
We encourage you to invite family and friends to come and visit you! They will return to the States with a bigger heart for missions and will become an advocate for your people group.
What if I am engaged or seriously dating someone?
If you are engaged now (or soon to be engaged) this is not the time to think about being away from that person for the next two years! You will definitely be distracted from developing relationships on the field and focusing your attention on your main task of missionary work.
It is best to perhaps go ahead and get married, then come through the interview process together. You will need to have been married at least a year before starting your assignment. Participation in an EXPO is by invitation only, and you should be married at least 4-6 months before attending an EXPO. Talk with your Personnel Consultant to help determine the best timing of attending an EXPO and starting an assignment.
I'm an MK — can I go back to my parents' country?
For MKs, IMB's policy is that adult family members do not serve in the same country. You can serve as a Journeyman in your parents’ country only if they are no longer serving there.
What is the process for applying for a passport?
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Begin to apply for a passport as soon as you sense God’s leadership overseas. It takes a number of weeks to get a passport, (even if you have all your "proof" documents in order). So, when God leads you overseas, you will then be ready to go. If He leads you to stay, you will have a good source of I.D. and will be ready for any international volunteer trips that come your way. It is always a good idea to keep your personal documents up to date and in order, including your driver’s license.
If approved to serve, IMB will pay for your expenses getting to the field. This means reimbursement for passport fees and required inoculations. You will learn more about this at an interview conference. You are required to get your own passport. The passport-type photos you sent with your application are not for passport purposes. The place to start your passport process is the U.S. Post Office or online.